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Alonso on pole for Spanish Grand Prix
May 13, 2006 21:30 IST
Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso sent an adoring crowd into raptures on Saturday with pole position on an all-Renault front row at his home Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
The 24-year-old Spaniard lapped the Circuit de Catalunya in one minute 14.648 seconds with Italian team mate Giancarlo Fisichella completing a perfect afternoon for the team in 1:14.709.
Ferrari's seven times champion Michael Schumacher, winner of the last two races and 13 points behind championship leader Alonso, qualified third with his Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa alongside.
Alonso's second pole in a row, 11th of his career and first in Spain left him perfectly placed to become the first Spaniard to win his home race.
His success has attracted a huge following in Spain, with a sellout 130,000-strong crowd expected on Sunday, but he looked forward to Sunday's race as pure pleasure.
"There is no pressure, just more motivation," he added of the turnout at the Circuit de Catalunya.
"After testing all through the winter here with empty grandstands, when you come here for the Grand Prix it's a completely new feeling, new emotion in the car and I enjoy every lap so much.
"It's a fantastic feeling, driving here with this support. The 66 laps will be not enough to enjoy the race. There is only one opportunity a year so I need to enjoy it."
The second row offered further proof that Sunday's race would be a battle between the new champions and the old, with Schumacher lurking on the clean side of the track.
"It's all about the strategy," said Schumacher, who has a new engine while Alonso is using the one that took him to second place from pole at the Nuerburgring last weekend.
"In general, I think we knew that we might have a little sacrifice for qualifying but we have a very strong race pace and that's what we have to concentrate on," added the German, six times a winner in Barcelona.
"We are third and I'm on the clean side of the starting grid, which should be a little better for me."
Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was fifth fastest for Honda and starts on the third row with Germany's Ralf Schumacher in a Toyota.
Italian Jarno Trulli, still without a point from five races, was seventh for Toyota on a fourth row with Briton Jenson Button in a Honda.
The big surprise was the form of McLaren, with last year's race winner Kimi Raikkonen only ninth quickest and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya failing to make the cut for the final session in 12th place.
Briton David Coulthard will start his 200th Grand Prix from the back row after he crashed out in the first qualifying session.
The Red Bull driver spun, skidded off the track backwards and careered across the gravel and into the tyre barrier, leaving his car's right rear wheel dangling off.
Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion for Williams, will start last after losing 10 places due to an unscheduled engine change. The BMW Sauber driver qualified 14th.
Starting grid for the Formula One Grand Prix of Spain:
1. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault
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