Schumacher leads qualifying and is centre of controversy (Roundup)
By Claas Hennig May 27, 2006, 15:47 GMT
German Michael Schumacher of Ferrari in action during the Monaco Grand Prix qualifying session in Monaco on Saturday, 27 May 2006. German Michael Schumacher of Ferrari took pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix that will take place on Sunday, 28 May, Spanish Fernando Alonso of Renault was second. EPA/OLIVER WEIKEN
Monte Carlo - Michael Schumacher captured the pole position for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix ahead of his world championship rival Fernando Alonso in controversial circumstances on Saturday.
The Ferrari driver Schumacher clocked 1 minute 13.898 seconds on the narrow and twisting 3.340-kilometres course in the principality and then partly blocked the piste in the second from last turn, the Rascasse, which denied others to improve the time.
Alonso was visibly unhappy but spoke of an accident while his Renault team boss Flavio Briatore accused Ferrari of deliberately stopping the car there. Alonso clocked 1:13.962 minutes in his final lap in which Schumacher was in his way.
Race stewards were investigating the incident.
'I was three tenth faster until the final corner. I did my maximum in the car. To lose the last lap through a accident is not a good thing,' said Alonso.
Schumacher, who will have his third pole of the season and 67th overall unless the race stewards impose sanctions, protested his innocence.
'The wheels locked up and I went wide. I tried to find the reverse. But I didn't want to back up due to traffic, then the engine stalled,' the German insisted.
'The slightest error can lead to this,' he said in reference to the difficult course.
The world champion Alonso leads the world championship with 54 points from six races ahead of Schumacher, who has 39. Alonso has three season wins and Schumacher two.
Schumacher's incident occurred in the final minute of a qualifying session which saw fewer incidents than feared.
Mark Webber was third in a Williams in 1:14.140 minutes and Kimi Raikkonen, the 2005 winner, came fourth in a McLaren in 1:14.140 minutes.
Schumacher's team-mate Felipe Massa drove into the crash barriers in the first part of qualifying which makes him start in 22nd and last place. His misfortune interrupted the session for several minutes.
Not much better off were the BMWs of Jacques Villeneuve and Nick Heidfeld, who didn't survive the second round of qualifying and will start from 15th and 16th place into Sunday's 78-lap race.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur