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Lucky Fisichella takes provisional pole
March 05, 2005 16:37 IST
Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella took provisional pole for Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix after the weather turned first qualifying into a lottery.
While the Italian had all the luck, the heavens opening on Saturday just as he crossed the line at the end of his timed lap, the rain poured on the hopes of Ferrari's seven times world champion Michael Schumacher.
With the starting grid now determined by aggregate times after a final session on Sunday morning, there was little chance of the German clawing his way back or of the top order changing much either.
"All I can say today is that we were unlucky," said Schumacher, whose team had to switch him hurriedly from dry to rain tyres.
"Obviously this result will impact greatly on the race. All the same we will try and bring home some points or even something better. I don't think a podium is out of the question, but it will be very difficult."
Toyota's Jarno Trulli joined compatriot Fisichella on the overnight front row, albeit more than two seconds off the pace, while Australian Mark Webber was third fastest but with a 3.5 second lag on the leader.
Canada's former champion Jacques Villeneuve was fourth for Sauber, despite spinning full circle on his warm-up lap, followed by the Red Bulls of Austrian Christian Klien and Briton David Coulthard.
Fisichella hit the jackpot, favoured by the capricious Melbourne climate in a session that veered from bright sunshine to torrential rain and made just setting a time an achievement for some drivers.
"I have been very lucky because I went out at the right moment and as soon as I finished my flying lap, it started raining," said the Italian, whose only win to date was in the rain-hit Brazilian Grand Prix of 2003.
Renault had been expected to be fighting for pole with McLaren after both impressed in pre-season testing.
However, McLaren's hopes were also hit by the weather with Finland's Kimi Raikkonen in 10th place and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya 11th.
Saturday's session was stopped briefly after Japan's Takuma Sato spun his BAR into a concrete wall on his warm-up lap, leaving debris on the track.
His British team mate Jenson Button, chasing his first win after finishing third overall in the championship last season, fared better with a provisional eighth place slot.
Brazilian Felipe Massa was a big loser, embarking on his qualifying lap immediately after Fisichella with dry tyres that left him fighting to stay on the track. He gave up the battle and pulled over.
India's Narain Karthikeyan, his country's first Grand Prix driver, was in ninth place despite a spin.
"Qualifying was a bit tricky for the rookies today as it was so slippery," he said.
"I am happy with what I have done. Obviously I could have pushed a bit harder but I am learning step by step."
Australian Grand Prix first qualifying times:
Formula One: The Complete Coverage