MAGNY-COURS, France (AP) _ Runaway Formula One leader Michael Schumacher got his fourth pole of the season, going 125.661 mph in qualifying Saturday for the French Grand Prix.

Schumacher watched a thrilling end to the one-hour session as his biggest challengers came close but couldn't beat his Ferrari's time of 1 minute, 15.632 seconds over the 2.64-mile Nevers Magny-Cours circuit.

With the clock running out, David Coulthard, battling problems all day, clocked a fast lap of 1:15.734 in his McLaren-Mercedes to finish claim the outside of the front row for the race Sunday.

It was the third straight pole for Schumacher, who now has 27 in his career. A winner in five of eight races this season, the German has a 22-point lead over Coulthard in the driver standings.

Schumacher is shooting for a 41st career victory that would tie him with the late Brazilian ace Ayrton Senna in second place in record books. Alain Prost leads is the F1 career leader with 51 victories.

Schumacher set his time just before the half-hour mark and led Coulthard by more than half a second at that point.

Rubens Barrichello of Brazil, driving the second Ferrari, then posted a time of 1:16.047, and will start third. Two-time defending series champion Mika Hakkinen was fourth, going around in 1:16.050 on his final lap.

Ralf Schumacher, the younger brother of Michael, clocked in 1:16.291 to take the fifth spot on the grid. Eddie Irvine was next after a run at 1:16.399.

Jacques Villeneuve was seventh, followed by defending race champion Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Jarno Trulli was ninth and Jenson Button 10th.