Qual: Barrichello takes pole

Rubens Barrichello will start tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix at Monza from pole position after he set a time more than half a second quicker than anybody else

Qual: Barrichello takes pole

Barrichello described his lap as "phenomenal" and certainly his two closest challengers, Juan Pablo Montoya and Michael Schumacher, who both admitted to mistakes, reckoned that they could not have matched it.

"I am so happy with the whole thing," said Barrichello, "because the car was really good and I was able to take every little bit out of it. Especially, I'm happier with the Lesmos, one and two, than I am with the final part of my lap.

"I think it was [the perfect lap]. Well, perfect, we are never going to be perfect, but it's been very close to the very limit and in Monza it's all about getting it right as opposed to getting it to the limit. Sometimes you can make a mistake here in turn one and you give away half a second just like that.

"But I think I have been very close to the limit on every part of the circuit and I was excited inside of the car to be honest."

Schumacher's mistake came in the last corner. The world champion had set the fastest first sector time, lost a little to Barrichello through the two Lesmos, then he ran wide through Parabolica. It was a rare error that the German threw his hands up to immediately.

"I did something in the last corner which had nothing to do with set-up," he said. "It was my fault, although my time would not have been good enough for pole position."

This allowed Montoya a crack at the front row and he duly took it. The Colombian, the last to run in qualifying after recording the fastest lap in F1 history during pre-qualifying, pushed as hard as he dared with his Williams on full tanks to go quickest in sector one. But his was Williams was simply no match for Barrichello's car through the Lesmos, indeed he made a small mistake trying too hard, but then pulled out a fantastic sector three time to save a front row slot.

"I think it has been a while actually since I have been on the front row," he said afterwards. "I think the team has done a really good job. What can I say? It was good in the first qualifying. We ran really fast. We knew Ferrari could go quite a lot faster than what they did. And they did you know...

"I made too many mistakes, but even if I had done the perfect lap I think they would have gone a little bit faster. It's good. We are on the front row. I think it's good for the team you know. We need the points."

Fernando Alonso took fourth position. A pretty good achievement for the Spaniard on a track he knew was not going to suit the characteristics of the Renault R24. But what he knows that nobody else does is just how much he had to sacrifice in weight to achieve the time. If he was running on a heavy fuel load, then Alonso could well be the race's dark horse tomorrow.

Takuma Sato out-qualified Jenson Button for fifth. The Englishman had been confident after his pre-qualifying lap, but something strange happened to his BAR-Honda when the team fuelled it for qualifying.

"In pre-qualifying the car was very good, but then I seemed to have a lot of oversteer," he said. "As soon as I got on the power at the exits of the corners I had a big step of oversteer, especially in the two Lesmos, and also through Ascari so it was pretty tough.

"Obviously we were running more fuel than we were running in pre-qualifying. That had something to do with it I should think."

Kimi Raikkonen qualified the first of the McLarens in seventh. He won from further back in Spa, but this time he was nearly 0.8s of a second off the pole in dry conditions - and that's a long way back on a track that does not lend itself to overtaking.

Jarno Trulli, who has struggled with the balance of his Renault all weekend, split the McLarens in ninth. David Coulthard was tenth.

Ricardo Zonta impressed once more for Toyota, qualifying just outside the top ten and easily eclipsing his soon to retire team-mate Olivier Panis who was 13th behind the Jaguar of Mark Webber.

Christian Klien was 14th fastest. The Austrian took advantage of trouble down in the Sauber garage to jump ahead of the Swiss cars.

Giancarlo Fisichella had looked stellar in the first session and indeed ended it sixth fastest, but when the team bolted new Bridgestones on the C24 it all went wrong. Sauber has had trouble getting heat into its tyres over one-lap and the same thing appeared to happen at Monza. It's a shame because the car has the pace, but it's a long climb up from the eighth row. Felipe Massa was sixteenth.

The Cosworth teams filled the last two rows with Nick Heidfeld beating his Jordan team-mate Giorgio Pantano, who looked just a little ragged, and Zsolt Baumgartner beating Gianmaria Bruni despite or maybe because of a mistake at the first chicane.

There are rumours of bad weather on the way between now and the race. McLaren reckons it will happen overnight, Williams says there is a 15 percent chance of it falling during the race. Barrichello says he is just going to wait and see. Whatever happens no-one could get near the Brazilian today, and as for tomorrow, well it's about time he got some good fortune isn't it?

Barrichello Takes Dominant Pole for the Italian GP
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