An expectant Formula One audience will finally be given the chance on Sunday to witness whether the Ferraris are free to race as claimed this week.
There is an all-Ferrari front row for the United States Grand Prix, but for the first time this season, Rubens Barrichello is ahead of team-mate
For the sake of the sport, all but Schumacher's ardent fans will be hoping Barrichello gets a flier and takes the first corner of the Indianapolis
Motor Speedway in first place.
Formula One needs to put on a show in America to enhance its appeal and if Schumacher is seen to make the getaway and then goes on to win his eighth
race this season, it will do little to attract any wavering race fans.
For technical director Ross Brawn, who conceded to being anxious last week in Montreal as he witnessed Barrichello duel for the lead with Schumacher
midway through the Canadian Grand Prix, there are likely to be further heart flutters once the race starts.
He insisted this week his two drivers are "free to do what they can and is sensible," though it has long been assumed Ferrari operate under team
orders in favour of Schumacher.
Brawn is adamant that is not so and there is an "open approach between the drivers," a theory which will hopefully be put to the test in
Barrichello described his first pole since the final race of last year in Japan as "a high," and is now looking to cement that with what would be his
first victory since Suzuka
But he has to beat Schumacher, who holds a 16-point lead in the drivers' championship despite winning seven of the eight races so far.
"It is always a nice fight, and being in front I hope he doesn't get as close as I got to him in Canada," said Barrichello.
"But I have no problems with Michael. I'm always proud to be racing against him, and in getting the pole today I've done it against the best, but then
I believe I am driving better now than at any point this season."
Schumacher, who has won twice at Indianapolis and been second in the other two races since Formula One returned to the States in 2000, said: "I hope
to keep it that way, but then hopefully finishing one higher than my lowest position."
But Schumacher knows neither he nor Barrichello can give anything but their all if they are to win, adding: "We are on the front row and I will be
fighting against Rubens who has done a fantastic weekend.
"He has been very strong so far and that's the way we push each other. It means each of us has to give 100% otherwise we will be beaten, and as we are
racers we do not want to be beaten.
"I've had bigger margins at other circuits, but maybe Rubens has not got it together as good as I have, but he has got it together here. It will be
interesting between us tomorrow."
It will be the BARs on the second row of the grid, with Takuma Sato keeping his car on the track on this occasion, unlike at the Canadian Grand Prix
last Saturday when he spun late on to slip to 17th, pipping team mate Jenson Button by two tenths of a second.
Sato, who had a collision with Sauber's Felipe Massa on Friday, is aware he and Button face an uphill task to beat the Ferraris.
"This is a great result for the team, particularly after I lost half a practice session yesterday, so I'm really pleased to get back on the pace,"
"To win any grand prix would mean everything, but trying to beat the Ferraris will be very difficult as we have seen so far this season, but that is
our aim and we will try."
The third row is taken by the BMW Williams' of Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher, both of whom will be looking to make amends tomorrow after
their disqualifications at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve due to their cars sporting illegal air ducts.
McLaren showed just how far they have fallen in the space of nine months to last year's Stateside race as Kimi Raikkonen, polesitter in September, was
seventh and almost a second down on Barrichello, while David Coulthard will start a woeful 12th.
The Finn and Scot are separated by Olivier Panis (Toyota), Fernando Alonso (Renault), Mark Webber (Jaguar) and Cristiano da Matta (Toyota), while the
second Renault of Jarno Trulli will start at the back of the grid, or as is more likely, from the pit lane after suffering a gear problem.