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Alonso puts McLaren on pole
September 08, 2007 20:01 IST
Last Updated: September 08, 2007 20:39 IST
In a slap in the face for title rivals Ferrari [Images] before the Italian team's home race, the Spaniard gave troubled championship leaders McLaren a timely boost after a week dominated by a spying controversy.
Hamilton, the 22-year-old British rookie who leads Alonso by five points with five races remaining and faces a tough battle to get past his team mate on Sunday, missed out by 0.037 seconds.
Despite knowing that their championship hopes could be extinguished at a hearing in Paris next week into allegations that McLaren benefited from leaked Ferrari technical information, both drivers managed to put the off-track tension to one side on a sunny afternoon at the Milanese circuit.
"I've had many second places this year and finally pole position, which I think we deserved," said the Spaniard.
"We've been very quick all weekend, and also in the tests last week.
"The car is extremely quick here on this track and we took our opportunity today. Hopefully tomorrow we can do the real job and also finish the race ahead of everybody."
Kimi Raikkonen [Images], preparing for his first race appearance in Italy [Images] as a Ferrari driver since stepping into the shoes of retired seven-times champion Michael Schumacher [Images], qualified fifth in the spare car after crashing heavily in final practice.
"Until now McLaren look pretty strong, we need to hope that tomorrow our car can be competitive," said Massa, who is 15 points off Hamilton with Finland's Raikkonen one further back.
The pole was Alonso's first since Monaco in May, although he was stripped of another in Hungary last month for impeding Hamilton, and the 16th of his career.
Hamilton said it would be difficult to beat Alonso at the fastest circuit on the calendar, with qualifying regularly dictating the finishing order this season.
"Here there are not that many corners so there's not a lot of room for error," he told a news conference. "And Fernando and all of the top drivers rarely make mistakes so it will be difficult.
"We are running such low downforce that to then lose it completely behind someone is going to be tough... we'll have to wait and see tomorrow, see how we get into the first corner."
Briton Jenson Button [Images] lifted Honda's hopes in a miserable season with 10th place on the starting grid.
Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella had a disappointing afternoon, slumping to his worst qualifying performance of the year in his home race. He will start in 15th place.
Qualifying result from the Italian Grand Prix:
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