|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Alonso takes pole in China
Alan Baldwin | October 15, 2005 12:52 IST
Last Updated: October 15, 2005 17:16 IST
Renault swept the front row of the Chinese Grand Prix grid in Shanghai on Saturday to claim first blood in their Formula One constructors' title showdown with McLaren.
Fernando Alonso, the 24-year-old Spaniard who became the sport's youngest champion in Brazil last month, roared to pole position ahead of Italian team mate Giancarlo Fisichella.
"It's the perfect start for us and we have a good strategy for tomorrow as well," said Alonso. "I am a little bit surprised to be on pole but the car was perfect."
Renault, who lead McLaren by two points, can secure their first title as a constructor in Sunday's season-ending race in Shanghai.
McLaren, winners of the last six races, had Finn Kimi Raikkonen in third place and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya fifth.
They will be champions if they score two points more than Renault on Sunday because their title rivals cannot win as many races.
BAR's Jenson Button, starting his 100th Grand Prix searching for a first win, lines up alongside Raikkonen on the second row.
"It's always nice to be on the front row but it doesn't make that much difference," said Raikkonen, who won from 17th place in Japan last weekend.
"I think we are going to be very strong in the race so I'm not too worried about it.
"We knew before qualifying that maybe we would not get pole but we are looking for a race win, a one-two, and that's the main thing."
Alonso's sixth pole of the season was tyre supplier Michelin's 100th.
It was also the first time the two Renaults had lined up together on the front row since Malaysia 2003. Raikkonen won that race for McLaren.
While Alonso and Fisichella have an engine specifically tuned for one race, after using their last ones for the mandatory two Grands Prix, Raikkonen must use the same one he had in Japan.
"All weekend we didn't use the full power until now in qualifying and the result is this," said Alonso.
The Spaniard finished third in Japan, starting 16th and twice overtaking Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, and looked forward to another battle with Raikkonen.
"I had quite a competitive car in Suzuka, equal to McLaren maybe...hopefully tomorrow I can have another chance to fight with them for the victory," he said.
Fisichella, who was overtaken by Raikkonen on the last lap in Japan, said he is ready to help the team win the championship.
Montoya will start on the third row alongside Ferrari's seven-times world champion Schumacher, with Red Bull's David Coulthard and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello, last year's winner in the next row.
"I think realistically we can expect to fight for points between fourth and sixth place," said Schumacher.
Barrichello, who is moving to BAR next season, said: "I will give it my best shot to try and get the best result possible in my last race at the wheel of a Ferrari."
1. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault 1:34.080
Formula One: The Complete Coverage