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Alonso takes Hungarian pole for Renault

Alan Baldwin | August 23, 2003 21:23 IST

Spain's Fernando Alonso, seeking to become the youngest race winner in Formula One history, put Renault on pole position for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

The 22-year-old roared to the second pole position of his career, his first coming in Malaysia in March this year, with a lap of one minute 21.688 seconds in final qualifying at the Hungaroring.

He will share the front row with Williams's Ralf Schumacher, who had been due to start 10 places further down the grid before his punishment for causing an accident at the last race was translated into a $50,000 fine.

Ralf was the highest placed title contender but he must start on the dirty side of the track going into a tight first corner.

Ralf's older brother Michael, Ferrari's overall leader and five times world champion, endured his worst qualifying of the season with eighth place at a circuit where he clinched the title in 2001.

He starts alongside McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen.

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher's closest title rival who needs to beat the German by seven points to secure the overall lead, starts on the second row alongside Jaguar's Australian Mark Webber.

Schumacher has 71 points, Montoya 65, Raikkonen 62 and Ralf 53 with three races remaining after Hungary in one of the closest championships in years.

ALONSO CONFIDENT

"It didn't work out very well today. I assume I was trying too hard to do too much and that's why it didn't work out," the older Schumacher said.

Webber was third quickest, 0.339 slower than Alonso.

"Tomorrow is more difficult but here I have been confident all weekend," said Alonso. "I hope to finish on the podium because I haven't since Barcelona and I want the same feeling again.

"Hopefully our 'launch control' will work as usual and I hope to arrive at the first corner in first place."

Sunday's race will tell what fuel levels drivers qualified on but it was still an impressive performance from Alonso, who turned 22 on July 29 and finished second to Ferrari's Schumacher in his home Spanish Grand Prix in May.

If he wins on Sunday he will be younger than New Zealander Bruce McLaren, winner at Sebring in the United States in 1959 aged 22 years and 104 days.

American Troy Ruttman won the Indianapolis 500 in 1952 aged 22 and 80 days when that event counted towards the world championship.

Ralf was happy to be ahead of Montoya but disappointed to miss what would have been his fourth pole of the year. "Certainly I'm not so happy with being second," he said.

"Being on the inside here, on the dirty line, is not the best place to be but hopefully Fernando will be nice and kind and open the door tomorrow and then it will be a nice race."

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, last year's winner in Hungary in the second Ferrari, starts in the third row as the highest placed driver on Bridgestone tyres. Alonso's Italian team mate Jarno Trulli is alongside.

Zsolt Baumgartner, Hungary's first Formula One driver, qualified 19th on his grand prix debut as a late stand-in for injured Briton Ralph Firman of Jordan.

Firman was ruled out after crashing heavily in morning practice, suffering concussion and an ankle injury.


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Sub: formula-1

i think montoya has a more realistic chance this year than schumacher


Posted by Nigel Britto




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