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Home > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report


Hamilton seizes Japan GP pole from Alonso

September 29, 2007 15:37 IST

Lewis Hamilton [Images] snatched pole position from McLaren team mate and bitter rival Fernando Alonso [Images] with a last gasp flying lap at the end of a wet and foggy Japanese Grand Prix qualifying session on Saturday.

The championship-leading rookie, who has accused Alonso of disloyalty and unsporting behaviour, pummelled the air in jubilation with his fists after shoving the Spaniard into second place.

Double world champion Alonso, two points behind Hamilton with three races left, was on top at the chequered flag but Hamilton pulled out all the stops on his final run to beat him by 0.070 seconds.

The pole position, at a track he only saw for the first time on Thursday, was the 22-year-old Briton's fifth in 15 Formula One races.

Ferrari's [Images] Kimi Raikkonen [Images], the third man in a thrilling title battle and 13 points adrift of Hamilton, qualified third with Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa [Images] fourth.

Ferrari have already secured the constructors' championship after McLaren were fined a record $100 million and stripped of all their 2007 points for having Ferrari technical information in their possession.

"I'm in a perfect position although obviously I've got these two (Alonso and Raikkonen) breathing down my neck," said Hamilton. "But I'm not really too bothered.

"Tomorrow's going to be a tough battle. We are obviously all extremely close in time, but the key is going to be getting down to the first corner."

VETTEL EXCELS

The two McLarens clashed at the first corner in Belgium two weeks ago, with Alonso forcing Hamilton off the track as the Briton tried to go past. Hamilton, fourth in that race, has said repeatedly since then that he will be more aggressive next time.

"We're going to race and we'll see. As Fernando said, we're not idiots," he said on Saturday.

"We want to finish the race and score points. We will obviously attack each other in, I hope, a fair way."

Germany's [Images] Nick Heidfeld qualified fifth for BMW [Images] Sauber, with Briton Jenson Button [Images] a surprising sixth for Honda in that team's highest grid placing of the year.

Williams' Nico Rosberg would have been on the third row instead of Button but a 10 place penalty for an engine change demoted the German out of the top 10.  

Another German, rookie Sebastian Vettel, stood out in seizing eighth place for Toro Rosso. The team's first appearance in the top 10 on the starting grid gave them a real chance of scoring their first points of the season.

Vettel will start alongside Australian Mark Webber's Red Bull on the fourth row.

Toyota, appearing at their own circuit, had nothing to celebrate with Germany's Ralf Schumacher colliding with Spyker's Japanese Sakon Yamamoto at the end of the first session and shattering his car's rear suspension.

Schumacher, his future in the sport looking increasingly uncertain with his contract expiring at the end of the year, starts 16th.

The weather could play a big part in Sunday's proceedings, with Saturday's final practice cancelled and organisers drawing up a contingency plan before qualifying to postpone the session to Sunday should conditions have failed to improve.

Hamilton was not worried, however: "I hope it's wet," he declared. "I'm not really bothered either way."

© Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
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