Alonso Fastest in Qualifying 1 - Malaysia

Fernando Alonso continued Renault's assault on the front of Formula One at Sepang on Saturday when he set the fastest time in first qualifying for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Alonso Fastest in Qualifying 1 - Malaysia

As World Champions Ferrari struggled in the sizzling heat Alonso gave himself the chance of securing a fourth career pole on Sunday morning with an impressive time of 1:32.582.

The lap was significantly faster than last year's pole position time set by Schumacher and put Alonso 0.090 seconds clear of second-placed Jarno Trulli's impressively fast Toyota.

Alonso set his time late in the session to push himself ahead of Italian Jarno Trulli, who has set a blistering pace all weekend in the intense heat at the Sepang circuit but just failed to hold onto the top spot.

Australian Grand Prix winner Giancarlo Fisichella slotted into third, Finn Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth for McLaren with German Ralf Schumacher, in the second Toyota, fifth fastest and Australian Mark Webber sixth for Williams.

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya failed to match his McLaren teammate's pace and finished seventh after a ragged lap and German Nick Heidfeld similarly struggled to match teammate Webber and had to settle for eighth.

Briton Jenson Button, who suffered engine concerns in the final practice session and failed to set a time, overcame his problems to finish ninth while Austrian Christian Klien completed the top ten for Red Bull Racing.

Anthony Davidson was first out for BAR-Honda, having replaced ill Japanese driver Takuma Sato for the rest of the weekend, and he set a cautious time of 1:34.866 in temperatures of 37 degrees.

Schumacher, who crashed out of the season-opening race in Australia, was out soon after and he managed a time almost 1.5 seconds faster but was still beaten by Williams driver Nick Heidfeld, who he collided with in the preceding race.

The next group of cars, including the Sauber of struggling Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, failed to match the pace of the front-runners and the leading order remained the same as the session headed towards its halfway point.

Briton Jenson Button, who missed the final practice session with an oil problem, then set a time more than 1.2 seconds faster than Davidson to slot in behind Heidfeld in second before Ralf Schumacher moved into the top spot.

Felipe Massa then set a time 0.7 seconds faster than Villeneuve to pour more pressure on the former World Champion before Trulli, the pacesetter for much of the weekend, moved to the top of the times ahead of teammate Schumacher.

Raikkonen slotted into second, just 0.l67 seconds behind Trulli, and Christian Klien was unable to match the lead pace as he finished more than a second down in his Red Bull Racing machine.

Montoya could only finish half a second slower than teammate Raikkonen after running over the kerbs during his flying lap and both Webber and Coulthard failed to shine on their efforts late in the session.

Pos Driver Team Time 1. (18) Alonso Renault (M) 1:32.582 2. (12) Trulli Toyota (M) 1:32.672 + 0.090 3. (20) Fisichella Renault (M) 1:32.765 + 0.183 4. (13) Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:32.839 + 0.257 5. (9) R.Schumacher Toyota (M) 1:33.106 + 0.524 6. (16) Webber Williams-BMW (M) 1:33.204 + 0.622 7. (15) Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:33.333 + 0.751 8. (3) Heidfeld Williams-BMW (M) 1:33.464 + 0.882 9. (10) Button BAR-Honda (M) 1:33.616 + 1.034 10. (14) Klien Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:33.724 + 1.142 11. (17) Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:33.809 + 1.227 12. (4) M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:34.072 + 1.490 13. (11) Massa Sauber-Petronas (M) 1:34.151 + 1.569 14. (19) Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1:34.162 + 1.580 15. (1) Davidson BAR-Honda (M) 1:34.866 + 2.284 16. (8) Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas (M) 1:34.887 + 2.305 17. (7) Karthikeyan Jordan-Toyota (B) 1:37.806 + 5.224 18. (6) Monteiro Jordan-Toyota (B) 1:37.856 + 5.274 19. (5) Freisacher Minardi-Cosworth (B) 1:39.268 + 6.686 20. (2) Albers Minardi-Cosworth (B) 1:40.432 + 7.850 All Timing Unofficial 

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Fernando Alonso
Author Will Gray
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