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Fisichella Claims Pole in Oz

Giancarlo Fisichella will start Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix from pole position on a shuffled grid after his rivals failed to overcome his advantage in the new aggregate qualifying system.

Fisichella set a time more than three seconds faster than his closest rival on Saturday after benefiting from good fortune when weather hampered the late running the first qualifying session.

And in Sunday's dry conditions with temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius the Italian driver took it easy to make sure he secured his second career pole position on his return to Renault.

The new aggregate timing system caused confusion, as expected, but the final qualifying time for each car was simply the sum of their times from their Saturday and Sunday runs.

Fisichella's aggregate time of 3:01.460 put him 2.969 seconds ahead of closest challenger Jarno Trulli, of Toyota, as the duo ensured the season would begin with an all-Italian front row.

Australian Mark Webber, making his Williams debut, will start his home race from the second row of the grid after keeping hold of his third place and will line up alongside former world champion Jacques Villeneuve's Sauber.

Scot David Coulthard, of Red Bull Racing, put in a solid qualifying lap to beat his Austrian team-mate Christian Klien to fifth place on the grid as the new team continued their satisfying start to life in Formula One.

German Nick Heidfeld, in the second Williams, finished seventh fastest on aggregate with Briton Jenson Button eighth for BAR-Honda and McLaren duo Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen completing the top ten spots.

World champion Michael Schumacher will have the toughest time of all the front-runners after choosing not to set a time and he will start from either the pit lane or the penultimate row of the grid.

The first runners - Takuma Sato, of BAR-Honda, and Felipe Massa, of Sauber - decided not to set a time after failing to finish their first qualifying laps because of the heavy rain on Saturday.

Michael Schumacher, who finished 24.760 seconds off the pace on Saturday thanks to the rain, also chose not to set a time so his Toyota-driving brother Ralf was the first to complete an aggregate lap.

After the first ten drivers had completed their runs, or chosen not to in the case of the first three, Montoya was on top of the pile for McLaren with an aggregate time of 3:14.645.

Montoya's team-mate Raikkonen looked set to extend the advantage he had over his team-mate from Saturday's run but he ran wide onto the grass at turn 12 and ended up a second slower but stayed ahead of Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari.

Indian Narain Karthikeyan, who had set the ninth fastest time in Saturday's session, dropped to 12th after his Jordan unsurprisingly failed to match the pace of the McLarens and Ferraris that were behind him after first qualifying.

Button maintained his eighth position on the grid, Heidfeld's lap was good enough to keep him seventh, while Coulthard was able to leap ahead of his team-mate Klien but the remaining runners stayed in the same order as they were after the first qualifying session.

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