Rubens Barrichello has taken his third pole position of the season after getting the better of team mate Michael Schumacher in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. As predicted, the session was a Ferrari-dominated affair, with the Williams of Ralf Schumacher the only car able to challenge the Italian team around the Hungaroring.
Having been eclipsed by the world champion in practice, Barrichello moved ahead in the 37th minute of the qualifying hour and improved again just before the flag fell. Despite his best efforts, Schumacher, who chose to complete only three of his four runs, never got in front again and was left trailing the Brazilian by just six hundredths of a second.
Barrichello's session was not without drama. He had to abort his first run after the Renault of Jenson Button spun immediately in front him, but in the end everything came together for the Ferrari number two.
"Since this morning we have improved the car a lot and I am very, very pleased," he said. "There is just one line everyone is following and if you get off line you spin.
"I think everyone is having a difficult time. The circuit is always known as being a bit dirty on Friday but it clears up, because of the rain that is happening here it is still a bit dirty. To be honest to get everything done correctly is as bit of a compromise.
"I am looking forward to the race. Starting from pole position I have the best chance as the track is cleaner, and I will do my best and try to win."
Schumacher, meanwhile admitted there was little he could do to halt Barrichello's progress. "He was doing a good job and I couldn't match it," he commented.
On his decision to opt out of a final run and instead conserve tyres, he added: "To some degree you try to do it, but on the other side you want to have it available for a last run."
Ralf Schumacher was the only man to split the Ferraris during the session after finding a dramatic improvement on his practice pace, which put him almost a second clear of Williams team mate Juan Pablo Montoya in fourth.
"We have had a very difficult weekend so far, a lot of ups and downs," he said. "Since we couldn't find anything we tried something very dramatic to our car, totally the opposite to before, and it worked."
Behind the Ferraris and Williams there was little to choose between the rest of the top ten. Jordan's Giancarlo went fifth fastest to claim the 'best of the rest spot' ahead of Renault's Jarno Trulli and the two Saubers of Felipe Massa and Nick Heidfeld.
Button fought back from his dramatic 360° spin to claim ninth on the grid as the Renault team debuted a new qualifying engine. Meanwhile McLarens, by their standards, had a disastrous day. David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen ended the session in tenth and 11th places respectively.
Jacques Villeneuve was another driver to survive a 360°C pirouette after losing control of his BAR at Turn 5 on his way to 13th place, one spot down on team mate Olivier Panis. The final Honda car, the Jordan of Takuma Sato, was 15th.
Jaguar had a disappointing session with Pedro de la Rosa and Eddie Irvine down in 15th and 16th, ahead of the two Toyota's of Mika Salo and Allan McNish, who again struggled around the Hungaroring circuit.
There had been fears after the searing pace of Ferrari in practice that Minardi would fail to qualify. However, both Mark Webber and new team mate Anthony Davidson safely made the grid.
Davidson was the only man on track in the first 23 minutes of the session as the other teams bided their time. The BAR tester put in a steady performance in his debut qualifying hour to finish in 20th place, around half a second down on Webber.
Conditions were fine and sunny throughout the hour, with track temperatures peaking at over 30°C. This was good news for Michelin, who claimed five of the top ten spots after having looked to be off the pace of rivals Bridgestone in the cooler practice conditions.