Heinz-Harald Frentzen - at the pinnacle of his career after his first Formula One victory - took a gamble and won by adding his initial pole in qualifying Saturday for the Monaco Grand Prix.
Frentzen's Williams-Renault toured the famed 2.093-mile street circuit in 1 minute, 18.216 seconds, averaging 96.286 mph. Two-time series champion Michael Schumacher turned the second-fastest lap - 1:18.235 in a Ferrari earlier in the session - and will occupy the outside of the front row Sunday."I wasn't expecting at the last outing to catch Michael's time," Frentzen said. "We made a risky setup at the end and it worked out for one lap."
But Schumacher wasn't surprised when he was outrun.
"I wasn't really believing that that would be the time to beat because I thought if I could go that quick, the others would do the same," he said.
Schumacher won here in 1994 and 1995, but his race last year lasted less than a lap. He crashed into a barrier coming down from the Loew's hairpin curve.
Mindful of that, Schumacher announced his plan for Sunday.
"First of all I want to finish the race," he said.
He hopes to become the first Ferrari winner in Monaco since Gilles Villeneuve, the late father of series point leader Jacques Villeneuve of the Williams team, in 1981.
Frentzen knows what it will take to give Williams a Monte Carlo victory for the first time since 1983.
"Be relaxed and confident," he said. "And also having a good start. That's the most important thing."
Frentzen's lap was faster than the qualifying record of 1:18.56 Schumacher set in 1994 on a slightly shorter track.
The track has changed since last year. A new chicane has smoothed out the racing line entering the swimming pool curve, and added about 40 meters to the length of the course.
Frentzen's pole ended Villeneuve's run of four this season.
Villeneuve was third in 1:18.583, although his next lap was cut short.
"I went a little too quick into the St. Devote turn and hit the guard rail with the rear of the car," he said.
Giancarlo Fisichella was fourth-fastest in a Jordan-Peugeot, followed by the McLaren-Mercedes of David Coulthard.