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Montoya puts McLaren on pole at Monza
Alan Baldwin | September 03, 2005 18:12 IST
Last Updated: September 03, 2005 19:48 IST
Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya put race favourites McLaren on pole position for the Italian Grand Prix with Renault's championship leader Fernando Alonso alongside.
Montoya's team mate Kimi Raikkonen, winner of the last two races but 24 points behind Spaniard Alonso with five grands prix left, was fastest in qualifying but an earlier engine failure cost him 10 places.
"It's not going to be easy," said Raikkonen after the latest blow to his championship hopes. "But we cannot change the situation so we need to make the most of it.
"As long as we get through the first corner without any problems, we have a good chance to fight for the race," added Raikkonen, who won in Canada from seventh on the grid and finished second from 13th place in France.
Montoya, winner at Monza with Williams in 2001, lapped 0.176 of a second slower than Raikkonen's time of one minute 20.878 seconds.
Briton Jenson Button, in a BAR, shares the second row with Japanese team mate Takuma Sato.
Ferrari's seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher qualified sixth, one place ahead of team mate Rubens Barrichello, and shares the third row with Italian Jarno Trulli in a Toyota.
German Schumacher will be out of title contention mathematically for the first time since 1999 if he fails to score more points than Alonso on Sunday. He is 40 adrift at present.
Montoya said he was happy with his lap, with McLaren clearly faster than their rivals.
The pole was the 12th of his career and first of the season, boosting McLaren's chances in the constructors' championship. They currently trail Renault by nine points.
While ready to help Raikkonen's title battle with Alonso, the Colombian clearly hoped to win on Sunday.
"Even if I wanted to help, there's not much I can do at the moment. He (Raikkonen) is too far back," he said. "I'm sure he's going to move up a lot but we'll see what happens."
Alonso, winner of six races and easily the most consistent driver this season, said he was surprised to be on the front row after McLaren's pace in practice. His team mate Giancarlo Fisichella starts eighth after a ragged qualifying lap.
"I think it's the maximum we could do," said the 24-year-old Alonso, who is well on the way to becoming the youngest champion in Formula One history.
"From the fourth race of the season we do not have the quickest car."
Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia, whose last race was at Monza in 2004 when he stood in for injured Ralf Schumacher, returned as a late replacement for another German at Williams.
Nick Heidfeld crashed heavily in testing last week at Monza and complained of a headache on Saturday morning. Doctors advised him not to drive.
Pizzonia qualified 16th.
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