Barrichello takes pole

Rubens Barrichello sent his home fans wild by grabbing a brilliant pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday, overcoming an ultra-strong challenge from Williams ace Juan Pablo Montoya. The pair were separated by just 0.204 seconds at the end

Barrichello takes pole

Barrichello went out last, following his quick time in pre-qualifying, and was comprehensively faster than his Colombian rival to set himself up with a perfect chance to grab a home victory on Sunday.

Kimi Raikkonen maintained McLaren's strong form over the weekend despite a fairly scrappy lap to set the third quickest time, while Felipe Massa proved the level of progress that Sauber has made with its qualifying form as he grabbed fourth place on the grid.

Jenson Button's hopes of pole position were dashed when he had a sideways moment through Ferradura on his qualifying lap. His BAR snapped sideways and although Button caught the slide without too much drama, it cost him valuable time during the ultra-close session. He ended up fifth overall, ahead of Takuma Sato and Ralf Schumacher.

"I just got a bit of oversteer through the corner," said Button. "I didn't experience anything like that in pre-qualifying and it is a bit of a pain."

Button's disappointment was nothing compared to David Coulthard, who will start 12th after an unimpressive lap. He had a wild moment through Turn 2, which cost him speed through the long left-handed Turn 3 onto the backstraight and he never looked like recovering the lost time through the rest of the lap.

Jacques Villeneuve's frustrating return to Formula 1 continued as he failed to match the pace of the front-runners - ending up almost four tenths slower than team-mate Alonso who ended up ninth. Despite Renault giving the French-Canadian a revised front suspension layout to help dial out the understeer problems that affected him in Japan, it did little to help his pace as he wound up 14th fastest. He starts 13th thanks to Michael Schumacher's grid penalty.

World champion Schumacher had an equally unimpressive lap, although this was probably accounted for by a very heavy fuel load. The Ferrari ace locked up a tyre going in Bico de Pato and set the eighth quickest time. He will start 18th though, following his 10-place grid penalty for switching to the spare car following his morning accident.

Minardi's Gianmaria Bruni did not start his lap after the team discovered a problem with his rear suspension following pre-qualifying. It was deemed too dangerous to let him go onto the track.

With Formula 1 facing drastic speed cuts for next year, the final qualifying session with the current cars proved how much progress is being made in the sport these days. Zsolt Baumgartner, who was slowest overall on Saturday with a time of one minute 13.550 second, would have qualified on pole last year if he had set that time in 2003.

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