Coulthard in a McLaren-Mercedes had set the fastest time of 1min 17.529sec
Coulthard takes pole

NUREMBURG, Germany, May 20 (AFP) - Scotland's David Coulthard took pole position for the European Grand Prix Saturday as rain hampered practices midway through the qualifying session.

Coulthard in a McLaren-Mercedes had set the fastest time of 1min 17.529sec about 30 minutes into the one-hour trial.

Barely three minutes later, rain started falling and wet the track enough to stop the cars from bettering their times posted in the first half of the season.

That let Coulthard gain his first pole position since the 1998 Canadian Grand Prix and ninth of his career, averaging 210.858 kph on the 4.556-kilometre Nurburgring circuit.

Just over two weeks ago Coulthard survived a private jet crash in Lyon, France that killed the pilot and co-pilot and sustained three cracked ribs from the accident and further injuries to his side.

German Michael Schumacher, who led the morning practice in his Ferrari, came in second with 1:17.667, finishing seconds after Coulthard's lap.

Finland's two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen was third fastest in his McLaren-Mercedes with 1:17.785 while fourth went to the other Ferrari of Brazil's Rubens Barrichello, who posted 1:18.227.

Hakkinen had taken the first three pole positions of the season followed by Barrichello and Michael Schumacher.

Ralf Schumacher was fifth in 1:18.315 in a Williams-BMW but his team-mate Jenson Button, the 20-year-old rookie who had the fastest time in Friday's free practice, was just 12th in his Williams-BMW, 1:19.151.