Saturday April 22nd, 2000
By Timothy Collings
Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, driving a Ferrari, grabbed the third pole position of his career on Saturday when he timed his run perfectly to head qualifying for Sunday's British Grand Prix.
Barrichello clocked a fastest time of one minute and 25.703 seconds to end up three-thousandths of a second ahead of German Heinz-Harald Frentzen in a Jordan.
Both men clocked their best times in the final seconds of a thrilling session watched by fewer than an estimated 10,000 fans following the organisers' decision to close the circuit to ticket holders because of flooded car parks.
Defending world champion Mika Hakkinen was third quickest in his McLaren -- just three-hundredths of a second slower than the Brazilian -- as the top drivers pushed hard for a time in the final minutes of the qualifying hour.
"I really must thank my previous British teams, Jordan and Stewart, for giving me so much running here in my career," said Barrichello after the sesssion. "I have not done a lot of dry running or testing here, but I know the track well from my old days.
"That was a big help to me and I am glad I had that chance today in a competitive car. Now, I am looking forward to the race very much."
The session was run in almost the only dry hour of the Grand Prix weekend so far but was followed by another rain storm which left the track flooded again.
Last year's winner, Briton David Coulthard in the second McLaren, wound up fourth fastest ahead of world championship leader Michael Schumacher of Germany, in the second Ferrari, and Briton Jenson Button in a Williams.
It was the best grid position of Button's brief career and boosted his hopes of claiming a points finish in his first home event.
Button's well-timed late run proved decisive as he clocked his time among a series of efforts by other drivers during a hectic final two minutes.
Frentzen had been quickest early in the session as the track dried out following all the rain and was followed by Barrichello before Coulthard, Canadian Jacques Villeneuve in a BAR-Honda and, briefly, Michael Schumacher, enjoyed posting the fastest lap time.
As it became clear that the dry line on the circuit would broaden, the teams became more daring on their choice of tyres and the lap times began tumbling. This saw Villeneuve go top again before Briton Eddie Irvine in his Jaguar took over.
But Irvine had gone out too early and he was left spectating in the final minutes as Jos Verstappen of the Netherlands, in his Arrows, clocked his fastest time, followed by Frentzen and then Barrichello.
It was a measure of the intensity of the late frenzied action that Verstappen ended up eighth on the grid as others clocked improved times in the final minute.