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Alonso Leads Renault Front Row in China

New World Champion Fernando Alonso claimed his sixth pole position of the season when he led a Renault one-two in qualifying for the season-ending Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on Saturday

Spaniard Alonso, who has won six races so far this season, set a time of 1:34.080 to finish 0.321 seconds ahead of his teammate Giancarlo Fisichella as Renault took first blood in their battle with McLaren.

Kimi Raikkonen finished third fastest for McLaren, 0.408 seconds slower than the lead Renault, after a slight mistake on his run but McLaren dominated practice and race strategy could have also played a part in the grid positions.

Jenson Button, who has finished the last nine races in the points, finished fourth fastest in his BAR-Honda with Juan Pablo Montoya suffering from an early run and ending in fifth in the second McLaren.

Outgoing World Champion Michael Schumacher finished sixth fastest for Ferrari with David Coulthard seventh for Red Bull and last year's winner Rubens Barrichello eighth in the second Ferrari.

Ralf Schumacher finished ninth fastest in the lead Toyota while Mark Webber completed the top ten runners in his Williams and Felipe Massa handed Sauber an 11th place grid start for their final race before the BMW takeover.

Sato was the first driver out in the session and posted a slow time of 1:37.083, suggesting he was heavily fuelled for the race, and he was soon beaten by Montoya, who went almost two seconds faster.

Trulli moved into second, 0.856 seconds behind Montoya, then Barrichello took over with a lap that was 0.422 seconds behind the McLaren and Massa also went ahead of Trulli into third.

Ralf Schumacher then went into third then Michael Schumacher moved up to second, 0.113 seconds behind Montoya, and David Coulthard slotted into third, between the two Ferraris, in his Red Bull machine.

Montoya's time was finally beaten by Button, who put his BAR-Honda 0.387 seconds clear, but his effort was soon bettered by Alonso leaving just Fisichella and Raikkonen to chase down the pole.

Pos       Driver        Team                   Time
 1.  (18) Alonso        Renault           (M)  1:34.080
 2.  (19) Fisichella    Renault           (M)  1:34.401 + 0.321 
 3.  (20) Raikkonen     McLaren-Mercedes  (M)  1:34.488 + 0.408
 4.  (16) Button        BAR-Honda         (M)  1:34.801 + 0.721
 5.   (2) Montoya       McLaren-Mercedes  (M)  1:35.188 + 1.108
 6.  (14) M.Schumacher  Ferrari           (B)  1:35.301 + 1.221
 7.  (15) Coulthard     Red Bull-Cosworth (M)  1:35.428 + 1.348
 8.  (10) Barrichello   Ferrari           (B)  1:35.610 + 1.530
 9.  (13) R.Schumacher  Toyota            (M)  1:35.723 + 1.643
10.  (17) Webber        Williams-BMW      (M)  1:35.739 + 1.659
11.  (11) Massa         Sauber-Petronas   (M)  1:35.898 + 1.818
12.   (3) Trulli        Toyota            (M)  1:36.044 + 1.964
13.   (4) Pizzonia      Williams-BMW      (M)  1:36.445 + 2.365
14.  (12) Klien         Red Bull-Cosworth (M)  1:36.472 + 2.392
15.   (6) Karthikeyan   Jordan-Toyota     (B)  1:36.707 + 2.627
16.   (9) Villeneuve    Sauber-Petronas   (M)  1:36.788 + 2.708
17.   (1) Sato          BAR-Honda         (M)  1:37.083 + 3.003
18.   (5) Albers        Minardi-Cosworth  (B)  1:39.105 + 5.025
19.   (8) Monteiro      Jordan-Toyota     (B)  1:39.233 + 5.153
20.   (7) Doornbos      Minardi-Cosworth  (B)  1:39.460 + 5.380

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