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Home > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report


Narain 17th on grid

March 20, 2005 11:31 IST

Fernando Alonso put Renault on pole position for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix while Ferrari's world champion Michael Schumacher was again eclipsed.

The 23-year-old Spaniard, who in 2003 became the youngest driver to start a Grand Prix from pole at the same Sepang circuit, pipped Italian Jarno Trulli's Toyota by 0.253 of a second.

It was Renault's second pole in two races this season, Trulli's second successive front row start and Alonso's fourth pole in 53 starts.

India's Narain Karthikeyan will start in 17th position.

"I knew the car was good and I found a good balance again today," said Alonso, who was also fastest in Saturday's first qualifying.

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, the championship leader who romped to victory from pole in the Australian season-opener on March 6, was third quickest and starts on the second row alongside Australian Mark Webber in a Williams.

"It's going to be very important to get through the first corner. I'd like to keep my position and, if I can, overtake Jarno straight away," said Fisichella.

"I'm very optimistic that we have the right strategy for the race...I'm pretty confident and we'll see."

FERRARI CHALLENGE

Seven times champion Schumacher, who failed to finish in Melbourne, starts 13th with Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello 12th.

"I think maybe they have a lot of fuel and are going to try a very long first stint," said Fisichella of the Ferraris.

"I think They have a good pace to overtake some cars, especially in the pitstops, and I think at the end of the race they are going to fight for the podiums," he added.

Toyota's Ralf Schumacher and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, winner in Malaysia in 2003, filled the third row.

"I'm a little bit disappointed," said the Finn. "In contrast to yesterday, I experienced some understeer and lost two grid positions."

His Colombian team mate Juan Pablo Montoya starts 11th.

Red Bull continued their strong showing with Briton David Coulthard and Austrian Christian Klien together on the fourth row.

"It's going to be difficult but reliability is going to be the key thing as well as fuel strategy," said Coulthard, who finished fourth in Australia.

"This is a journey of discovery and we will know a lot more about how this car functions after this grand prix."

Two drivers with new engines since Australia, Briton Jenson Button for BAR and Germany's Nick Heidfeld in a Williams, were together on the fifth row.

Briton Anthony Davidson, a stand-in for Japan's unwell Takuma Sato at BAR, qualified 15th.

Renault had been expected to set the pace at Sepang but Toyota have been the revelation of the weekend so far.

"Toyota have been pushing a lot to give me a good car and we seem to be very competitive," said Trulli.

"I just want to go out and do it this afternoon."

Starting grid for Sunday's Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix after the morning's second qualifying session:

1. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault - three minutes 07.672 seconds

2. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota - 3:07.925 3.

Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) - Renault 3.08.448

4. Mark Webber (Australia) - Williams 3:08.904

5. Ralf Schumacher (Germany) - Toyota 3:09.007

6. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) - McLaren 3:09.483

7. Christian Klien (Austria) - Red Bull 3:09.589

8. David Coulthard (Britain) - Red Bull 3:09.700

9. Jenson Button (Britain) - BAR 3:09.832

10. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) - Williams 3:09.917

11. Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia) - McLaren 3:10.090

12. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) - Ferrari 3:11.502

13. Michael Schumacher (Germany) - Ferrari 3:11.633

14. Felipe Massa (Brazil) - Sauber 3:11.884

15. Anthony Davidson (Japan) - BAR 3:11.890

16. Jacques Villeneuve (Canada) - Sauber 3:12.995

17. Narain Karthikeyan (India) - Jordan 3:17.656

18. Tiago Monteiro (Portugal) - Jordan 3:17.962

19. Patrick Friesacher (Austria) - Minardi 3:21.186

20. Christijan Albers (Netherlands) - Minardi 3:23.001

(Grid decided on aggregate times from two sessions)

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