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Raikkonen takes Monaco pole
Alan Baldwin | May 22, 2005 17:11 IST
McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen will start Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix from pole position alongside Renault's championship leader Fernando Alonso.
Seven times world champion Michael Schumacher, way off the pace in Saturday's first session, qualified eighth in what looks like a forlorn bid to end Ferrari's run of six races without success.
The pole, in an aggregate time of two minutes 30.323 seconds, was the Finn's third in a row and sixth of his career.
Spaniard Alonso was 0.083 slower after slashing the McLaren driver's hefty overnight advantage with the fastest time in final qualifying.
Australian Mark Webber, in a Williams, will start in third place with Alonso's Italian team mate Giancarlo Fisichella completing the second row for the most popular and glamorous race of the season.
Toyota's Italian Jarno Trulli, winner last year for Renault, took fifth place and starts on the third row next to the Williams of German Nick Heidfeld.
"I took it quite easy," said Raikkonen. "I slid a little bit wide on the last corner but I think we are in a very strong position right now.
"I was maybe not as much on the limit as yesterday."
Alonso has 44 points after five races with Raikkonen 27 adrift. Trulli has 26 while Schumacher is on 10.
Alonso, winner of three races in a row until Raikkonen beat him in the last Spanish Grand Prix, had played it safe after Toyota's Ralf Schumacher crashed near the end of Saturday's qualifying but was far more aggressive on Sunday.
"I didn't know that it was so close at the end," said the 23-year-old. "Yesterday's accident was not helping my confidence in my car but now with normal conditions we are again in a very strong condition.
"I'm really confident and think that...for the race we are looking much better than for one timed lap."
Webber has been consistently quick in qualifying this season, starting second in Spain and third in Australia, but he has yet to convert that into results with fifth place in Melbourne still his best showing.
However he said the Monaco weekend was shaping up to be the team's best of the year so far.
"Giancarlo's lap wasn't superb yesterday, he made a mistake in the last sector and we were expecting him to be a bit stronger today," he said.
"We kept third place and if we can get away well from there we are pretty happy with our strategy. Obviously it's a long afternoon here, probably the hardest race of the year on rear tyres...but generally we are very happy with the car."
Red Bull's David Coulthard, twice a winner in Monaco with McLaren, starts next to Schumacher on the fourth row with Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, in a Sauber, behind with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari.
Minardi enjoyed their best weekend of the season, out-qualifying both of the Jordans and with Austrian Patrick Friesacher starting a heady 13th.
They were helped by the absence of suspended BAR, banned for two races for having an underweight car, and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya being sent to the back of the grid for causing an avoidable accident in Saturday practice.
Ralf Schumacher, who changed his engine after Saturday's crash, did not take part in the final qualifying and also starts at the rear of the field.
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