Alonso Closes In on Title with Brazil Pole

Fernando Alonso claimed his fifth pole position of the season at Interlagos on Saturday when he took the upper hand over Championship rival Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying for Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix

Alonso Closes In on Title with Brazil Pole

Alonso put in a smooth run to finish with a time of 1:11.988 but Raikkonen buckled under the pressure when he locked a wheel heading into the first corner and could only qualify in fifth position.

Alonso, who currently has a 25-point lead in the title race, only needs to finish third to become the youngest champion in Formula One history and new modifications to his car have pushed Renault closer to their in-form rivals.

Juan Pablo Montoya ensured one McLaren would be on the front row for the start when he finished second fastest and pushed Alonso's teammate Giancarlo Fisichella down to third.

Jenson Button, who also has the benefit of an improved car here, finished fourth fastest as his time was enough to stay ahead of Raikkonen following the Finn's mistake.

Christian Klien secured his best qualifying position since the season-opening Australian Grand Prix when he finished sixth fastest, just ahead of World Champion Michael Schumacher's Ferrari.

Jarno Trulli was eighth fastest for Toyota but will lose 10 positions after an engine change. Felipe Massa was ninth in his Sauber, the fastest Brazilian on the grid, with home hope Rubens Barrichello missing out on a hat-trick of poles here when he struggled and ended up tenth.

Fisichella was the first driver out in his Renault and he was followed by BAR-Honda driver Takuma Sato, who chose not to even complete a lap because of a ten grid position penalty from the last race.

Michael Schumacher failed to match Fisichella but Montoya, also starting early after crashing out of the last race, was able to move ahead and led the way by the halfway point.

Dutch Minardi driver Robert Doornbos made a mistake on his lap when he spun at turn 12 and although he was able to continue he chose to pull into his pit and not set a time.

Klien put in an impressive lap to slot into third, almost a second faster than teammate David Coulthard, then Tiago Monteiro, who scored a point at the last race, was able to beat Pizzonia, Coulthard, Karthikeyan and Albers.

It was soon clear that there would be no hat-trick of poles for Barrichello on his lap, which ended up more than a second slower than Montoya leaving just Webber, Button and the two title contenders still to run.

Pos Driver Team Time 1. (19) Alonso Renault (M) 1:11.988 2. (7) Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:12.145 + 0.157 3. (1) Fisichella Renault (M) 1:12.558 + 0.570 4. (18) Button BAR-Honda (M) 1:12.696 + 0.708 5. (20) Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:12.781 + 0.793 6. (12) Klien Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:12.889 + 0.901 7. (3) M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:12.976 + 0.988 8. (5) Trulli Toyota (M) 1:13.041 + 1.053 9. (11) Massa Sauber-Petronas (M) 1:13.151 + 1.163 10. (16) Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1:13.183 + 1.195 11. (14) R.Schumacher Toyota (M) 1:13.285 + 1.297 12. (15) Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas (M) 1:13.372 + 1.384 13. (13) Monteiro Jordan-Toyota (B) 1:13.387 + 1.399 14. (17) Webber Williams-BMW (M) 1:13.538 + 1.550 15. (6) Pizzonia Williams-BMW (M) 1:13.581 + 1.593 16. (4) Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:13.844 + 1.856 17. (10) Karthikeyan Jordan-Toyota (B) 1:14.520 + 2.532 18. (9) Albers Minardi-Cosworth (B) 1:14.763 + 2.775 19. (8) Doornbos Minardi-Cosworth (B) No Time 20. (2) Sato BAR-Honda (M) No Time 
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Series Formula 1
Drivers Fernando Alonso
Author Will Gray
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