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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Fernando Alonso snatches the Pole on England

British GP - Qualifying
It all came down to a final sequence of hot laps right at the very end of an eventful three-phase qualifying session. Michael Schumacher crossed the line to take the Provisional Pole only for Alonso to flash across the line to take the Pole Position moments later. To make matters worse for Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen crossed the line seconds later and demoted the Ferrari driver to the second row of the grid.

With a 21 point lead in the Championship, Fernando Alonso does not need to win the British Grand Prix, but he has the Pole at a venue he has yet to win. Kimi Raikkonen’s last lap dash gives him an impressive front row start in his McLaren Mercedes while Schumacher has it all to do starting from third position.

Felipe Massa was a solid fourth fastest in the second Ferrari with no sign of any errors that blighted his Monaco qualifying session. Giancarlo Fisichella starts from fifth position in the second Renault, just over six-tenths off the pace of team-mate Alonso.

Rubens Barrichello continued his recent trend of showing the way to Jenson Button as he qualified a fine sixth in his Honda. For Button, the session was nothing but a disaster as he failed to make it through the first phase of qualifying. In a case of bad timing and bad planning Button completed just one run and starts a dismal 19th for his home Grand Prix.

Toyota also had a case of fixed fortunes as Ralf Schumacher qualified his TF106B in seventh position while Jarno Trulli’s bad luck continued as he suffered an engine failure even before he set a time. He therefore starts 22nd and last.

Juan Pablo Montoya qualified the second McLaren Mercedes in eighth position unable to match the pace of team-mate Raikkonen. More seriously for the Columbian is allegations of blocking in the second phase of qualifying from David Coulthard. It remains to be seen if he will be placed under investigation or not by the race Stewards.

For the first time this year, BMW Sauber qualified with both Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve in the top ten underlining the impressive pace they have shown all weekend long.

David Coulthard starts a disgruntled 11th in his Red Bull Ferrari but at least he will have the advantage of adjusting his strategy to whatever he likes being outside the top ten. Team-mate Christian Klien starts 14th.

Nico Rosberg did what he could in the Williams Cosworth but the team is struggling this weekend. Rosberg starts a solid 12th while Mark Webber, like Button, only completed one run and starts just 17th.
Toro Rosso Cosworth ran well with Tonio Liuzzi qualifying 13th and Scott Speed in 15th. Tiago Monteiro did a solid job to make it through to the second phase of qualifying in his MF1 Toyota and starts 16th ahead of Webber and team-mate Christijan Albers.

With Button just 19th, Takuma Sato and Franck Montagny made it three Honda powered machines in the final four positions on the grid. For Montagny, he was using the older and heavier SA05 chassis once again, giving away an estimated 15 kilos to team-mate Sato.

The race is all set. It is Alonso Vs Raikkonen Vs Schumacher. A three-way fight for the race win.


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