Malaysian GP, Final qualifying: All-Renault front row rocks F1 order

Fernando Alonso has rocked the Formula 1 status quo as Renault swept the front row for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, the first time the French manufacturer has locked out the top slots of the grid since Alain Prost and Eddie Cheever managed it in the French GP in 1983. The Spaniard will start from the pole in just his second race for the team

Malaysian GP, Final qualifying: All-Renault front row rocks F1 order

Alonso lapped the Sepang circuit in 1m37.044s to claim his first pole position in F1. Team-mate Jarno Trulli will start alongside the Spaniard, having set a best lap just 0.173s slower.

The first ever pole position for a Spaniard had the entire Renault garage punching the air as Michael Schumacher, who ran last in the single-lap session, failed to dislodge the French cars from the front row and stopped the clocks in 1:37.393s.

"You never quite know with single lap qualifying but the team has done a great job and I think we have been helped by the Friday testing," said Alonso, who is suffering from a fever in the stifling Malaysian heat. "The car feels very good to drive, it is a big improvement on last year and it is a fantastic day for me, getting pole position in my second race. At the moment I'm dreaming."

Team-mate Trulli added: "We have worked really hard and the car, the chassis and the engine are getting stronger. I wasn't expecting to be as high up but let's see what happens tomorrow."

The Renault performance has led to speculation that the Renaults will adopt a three-stop strategy in tomorrow's race.

Schumacher was not too concerned not to have taken pole, the first time this has happened since Formula 1 has visited Malaysia. "In qualifying you just go for it and see what comes up," he said afterwards. "We hope third place will prove to be good for us and that our strategy works out in the long run. We'll see tomorrow.

"The single lap qualifying is interesting, no doubt, but at the end of the day you care about what happens in the race. I don't know what the Renault guys have done and I don't want to take any credit away, but let's wait and see..."

David Coulthard kept up the momentum the McLaren team has been building all weekend with the fourth quickest lap, some 0.12s quicker than Rubens Barrichello in the second Ferrari. Nick Heidfeld once again did a strong job for Sauber at what is the closest thing to a home race for Peter Sauber's Petronas-backed team.

Kimi Raikkonen had a sideways moment in the final sector of the lap en route to qualifying the second McLaren in seventh position, marginally faster than Juan Pablo Montoya in the first WilliamsF1 BMW. Montoya's team mate Ralf Schumacher was way down in 17th place and without evidence of any obvious mistake on his lap, the speculation is that Schumacher Jr could again be opting for the single stop race that brought him victory last year.

Jenson Button got the better of team-mate Jacques Villeneuve on the track when he put the first BAR-Honda ninth to the '97 world champion's 12th, while Olivier Panis put the first Toyota into the top 10, just 0.003s ahead of a strong performance from rookie team mate Cristiano da Matta.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen was 13th in the second Sauber-Petronas ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella and rookie Jaguar driver Antonio Pizzonia who just out-qualified team-mate Mark Webber.

Minardi's Jos Verstappen was 18th fastest while British rookies Justin Wilson and Ralf Firman will line-up on the last row of the grid.

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Renault Front Row in Qualifying - Malaysian GP

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