Indianapolis: McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen thrust himself back into the thick of a three-way Formula One title battle with a perfectly timed US Grand Prix pole position on Saturday.
The Finn piled on the pressure as Ferrari rival Michael Schumacher and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya failed to match his speed in qualifying for the race that could decide the championship.
Schumacher, whose hopes of claiming a record sixth crown in the penultimate round of the season looked to be receding, qualified a disappointing seventh while the swashbuckling Montoya was fourth for Williams.
Schumacher has 82 points, Montoya 79 and Raikkonen 75 in the closest showdown in years.
Ferrari’s Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, last year’s winner at Indianapolis, joined Raikkonen on the front row . He was 0.124 slower than the Finn’s time of 1:11.670.
Raikkonen said he had simply got it right.
“I wasn’t very happy with the car at all yesterday or today. But we just got it right for qualifying and had a normal, good lap and it was enough.”
It was Raikkonen’s second career pole, following the Nuerburgring in June.
Montoya starts next to Olivier Panis in a Toyota, the Frenchman’s best qualifying of the season. Ralf Schumacher lined up behind him on the third row with Spaniard Fernando Alonso’s Renault, while Michael Schumacher shares the fourth row with David Coulthard, Raikkonen’s teammate.