Alonso takes pole position for Spanish Grand Prix
By Volker Gundrum May 13, 2006, 15:40 GMT
Spanish Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of Renault F1 team in action during the Qualifying session at the F1 race track Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo near Barcelona, Spain, Saturday 13 May 2006. The Grand Prix of Spain takes place on Sunday. EPA/KERIM OKTEN
Barcelona, Spain - Defending world champion champion Fernando Alonso Saturday beat Renault team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella for the pole position in Sunday's Spanish Formula One Grand Prix.
Main championship rival Michael Schumacher was third fastest in a Ferrari. Home favourite Alonso clocked 1 minute 14.648 seconds in the closing stages of the final qualifying round on the 4.627-kilometres Catalunya circuit.
Fisichella registered a time of 1:14.709 with Schumacher, who won the last two races, clocking 1:14.970 minutes. Schumacher's Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa was fourth with fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello fifth in a Honda.
'The times were really close on this circuit,' said Alonso who admitted it was tough.
''Pole position for the second successive time (after last week's European Grand Prix), great feeling.'
There were 112,000 fans on hand to watch Alonso in qualifying and at least as many will be present Sunday as the 23-year-old looks to go one better than the second-place finish he achieved here last season.
Schumacher trails Alonso in the championship standings by 13 points despite winning the last two races but is still confident of closing the gap further Sunday, in the sixth of 18 races this season.
'In general, we knew we might have a little sacrifice for qualifying but we have a very strong race pace,' said the seven-time world champion.
Fisichella said he too was optimistic about the upcoming race.
'Renault's performance was really good today,' said the Italian. 'We are really optimistic. We have a good package.'
It was a disappointing day for McLaren-Mercedes with Kimi Raikkonen qualifying down in ninth place and Juan Pablo Montoya faring even worse, registering the 12th fastest time.
Toyota will be reasonably happy as Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli qualified sixth and seventh, respectively.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur