Qual: Rubens takes pole

Rubens Barrichello took a sensational pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday after team-mate Michael Schumacher threw away his chances with a spin at the first corner

Qual: Rubens takes pole

Barrichello had laid down the gauntlet with a time of 1m34.012s to head the field with only Schumacher left - but the newly crowned world champion got it all wrong at the first turn as he spun off the track after losing the back end on the entry to the corner.

Although Schumacher did not hit the barriers he lost enough time to lose any chance of a decent grid position and he chose to abort his lap rather than finish it. He will start from the back row of the grid for Sunday's race.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said about Schumacher's spin: "We will have to have a look at the data and see what happened. It certainly wasn't the plan."

Kimi Raikkonen proved to be Barrichello's closest challenger as he set the second quickest time with a well controlled lap, apart from a minor slide coming out of the final corner. His lap of 1m34.178s was 0.166 seconds slower than Barrichello.

Jenson Button looked his usual smooth and in control self as he grabbed third on the grid, but he could do nothing to prevent Barrichello and Raikkonen locking up the front row. His lap of 1m34.295 seconds was 0.283 seconds behind the pole man.

The Briton had not been too happy with his car during pre-qualifying but after making some modifications before final qualifying he said he was much happier. "It was good," said Button afterwards. "Over the weekend we have been strong but pre-qualifying was not good and we were struggling with low grip. But with more fuel on board and a few set-up changes the car felt much better."

Sauber's Felipe Massa was just behind Button after the Swiss team's cars put in one of their stronger performances of the season. The Brazilian could not quite match the pace of fellow Bridgestone runners Ferrari, but put himself in good shape for a strong race on Sunday. Giancarlo Fisichella, who had been quicker in pre-qualifying, lost ground in the second session to end up seventh.

The challenge of the Williams duo faded in qualifying as Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya could do little to take the fight to BAR, despite having looked strong at certain points of the weekend. Schumacher ended the session fifth and Montoya was 11th.

Behind Schumacher in sixth was Renault's Fernando Alonso, who has had to work hard to get his R24 perfectly adapted to the tricky Shanghai circuit. The Spaniard had been outpaced by team-mate Jacques Villeneuve in pre-qualifying, but was much quicker second time out.

Speaking about his lap Alonso said: "It was obviously difficult. We have not had the perfect car today and we obviously were not 100 percent there in qualifying. But it is going to be a close fight in the race."

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve continued to struggle after a difficult morning practice session and was not as happy with his car in final qualifying as he ended up 13th

"This morning we got lost with the set-up of the car, but it felt good in first qualifying, but not so good in the second session," he said. "But the car is good over long runs so we should be better in the race."

Jaguar's Mark Webber was left kicking himself after he threw away the chance of another giant-killing performance with a wild moment at Turn 7. The Australian had been almost two tenths up on then provisional pole time, set by Alonso, when he put his left wheel over the kerbs and got launched into a lurid tail slide. His swift reactions saved him spinning off the track but cost his a vital few tenths as he ended up 12th.

Minardi's Gianmaria Bruni fell foul of the difficulties of getting the right line through the tricky Turn 1 when he spun on his qualifying lap. He kept the car on the track but lost a lot of time and opted to abort his lap.

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Barrichello on Pole as Schumacher Spins in China

Barrichello on Pole as Schumacher Spins in China
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