The state of the world may have drastically altered, but the status quo in Formula One remains very much the same. As if to emphasize the point, Michael Schumacher was the fastest in Saturday's final qualifying for the US Grand Prix. A much-reduced crowd in Indianapolis was treated to another cameo from the man long-since crowned as world champion. While the US struggles to come to terms with the enormity of recent events, the German vowed to put a smile back on the face of Americans. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the spiritual home of motorsport in the United States but despite a strong security presence, those assembled were determined to enjoy themselves. Schumacher senior didn't disappoint the crowds on Saturday. The world title is already his for the fourth time and he's now aiming for sole possession of the record for the most wins in a season -- currently co-owned by himself and Nigel Mansell. "I am pretty confident. The car has been going very well all weekend. We have worked consistently and improved the car. We worked very well for our race optimization and things are looking positive," said Schumacher. McLaren Mercedesâ€™ Mika Hakkinen was also in the mood to spread a little happiness. As he turned 33 on Friday, he picked up a belated birthday present in the shape of the second fastest time of the day.
|Top 5 lineup for Sunday's US Grand Prix|
|Racer / Car||Timing|
|Michael Schumacher / Ferrari||1 min 11.708 secs|
|Mika Hakkinen / McLaren Mercedes||1 min 11.945 secs|
|Ralf Schumacher / Williams BMW||1 min 11.986 secs|
|Juan Pablo Montoya / Williams BMW||1 min 12.252 secs|
|Rubens Barrichello / Ferrari||1 min 12.327 secs |
"The most ideal situation would be that where the end of your run, the end of your timed lap, when you are going round the very last, or second-last, third-last corner, you would be behind another car, you would get a great tow and maybe you would get some lap-time benefit. But you have to be quite close to the other car to really to get the maximum tow on the straight line and if you do it at the start of your lap then you will lose in the corners, turn one, turn two and turn three. So it is very difficult. So I don't think I got any advantage when I was following David (Coulthard) and vice versa," said Hakkinen. Meanwhile, William's Juan Pablo Montoya had to be content with the fourth fastest on Saturday.