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Alonso takes Bahrain pole
Alan Baldwin | April 03, 2005 15:37 IST
Formula One championship leader Fernando Alonso put Renault on pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.
It was the young Spaniard's second pole in a row, and fourth of his career, as Renault chase their third win in succession.
Seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher ensured Ferrari's new F2005 car will make its grand prix debut on the front row with the second best time.
Alonso, also fastest in Saturday's first qualifying, lapped the desert Sakhir circuit in an aggregate time of three minutes 1.902 seconds, beating Schumacher by 0.455.
"Today has been a difficult qualifying for everybody with very windy conditions," said Alonso. "The track was also maybe a little bit dirty.
"The lap was quite okay, not perfect, but obviously very quick. Probably our strongest point is the race pace and the long runs, not the qualifying lap. It's looking good for the race," he added.
Schumacher had a slight wobble through a fast right-hander but was happy to be back on the front row for the first time since Japan last October.
"We have to say that the car handles really great under heavy fuel conditions," said the German. "A little bit of a 'moment' in turn four, probably a little bit dirty or windy conditions, but I guess it didn't cost me too much.
"It wasn't enough to cost me pole," he added.
The German said there was a 'very strange' atmosphere at Ferrari following the death of Pope John Paul although the team went about qualifying as normal.
"Obviously Germans, Italians, feel very connected to the Pope as many other countries do. You cannot really explain in words the emotions and feelings going on around the team. We had the visit with the Pope earlier this year."
Italian state television RAI cancelled live broadcasts of the grand prix as a mark of respect for the Pope, who died on Saturday.
Toyota's Jarno Trulli, racing with the Pope's initials on his helmet, lost a position from Saturday and was third. He shares the second row with Germany's Nick Heidfeld in a Williams.
"I think the situation for us is slightly harder (than Malaysia)," said Trulli, second in that race for Toyota's first Formula One podium. "We are managing an oversteering car. It's going to be a tough race.
"I feel we are less competitive than we were in Malaysia."
Australian Mark Webber, also in a Williams, and Toyota's Ralf Schumacher line up on the third row.
Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, Schumacher's team mate, parked his Ferrari at the end of the pit lane wall after his qualifying lap.
Barrichello, who had been sidelined by gearbox problems on Thursday and Friday, walked back to the garages after qualifying 15th.
Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa, standing in for injured Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, outqualified McLaren team mate Kimi Raikkonen.
De la Rosa starts eighth, Raikkonen ninth.
Canadian Jacques Villeneuve again came off worse in comparison to Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa, the 1997 world champion qualifying his Sauber 16th while Massa was 12th.
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