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Raikkonen Grabs Provisional Monaco Pole

Kimi Raikkonen secured provisional pole position for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday when he finished faster than championship leader Fernando Alonso in a crash-hit first qualifying

Raikkonen, who won the last race in Spain, finished 0.481 seconds ahead of Renault driver Alonso with a time of 1:13.644 seconds as the two drivers proved they are the men to beat this weekend.

But the Finn was forced to wait almost 20 minutes to set his time after the session was stopped with three cars left to run when Ralf Schumacher crashed on his flying lap.

Schumacher made a big mistake heading through Tabac when he clipped the inside of the corner with his left front wheel and piled straight into the tyre barrier on the opposite side.

The heavy impact ripped away most of the right hand side of his Toyota car and scattered debris over the track, causing the session to be stopped, but the German driver was still able to climb out of the car.

Mark Webber finished third fastest with Giancarlo Fisichella, who had topped the final practice session in the morning, fourth in the second Renault, just ahead of fifth-placed Juan Pablo Montoya, in the second McLaren.

Nick Heidfeld secured sixth place in the second Williams with Jarno Trulli seventh in the lead Toyota and David Coulthard, in the Star Wars-liveried Red Bull Racing car, setting the eighth fastest time.

Jacques Villeneuve slotted into ninth for Sauber, the former World Champion putting his knowledge of the Monaco streets to good use, while Rubens Barrichello completed the top ten in his Ferrari.

World Champion Michael Schumacher could manage only 11th fastest time as Ferrari continued to struggle for pace around the slow road circuit under cloudy skies in cool conditions of 22 degrees Celsius.

Clouds continued to hug the mountaintops and dropped down closer to the harbourside as air temperatures were held down at 22 degrees Celsius at the start of the session.

Vitantonio Liuzzi was the first driver out on track and he set a benchmark time of 1:16.817 despite a scary moment on the first sector of the lap that almost put him into the barriers.

Michael Schumacher was the next lead driver on track, coming out fourth after the two Minardi cars, but he continued to struggle for pace and could only manage to set a time of 1:16.186 to go top.

Villeneuve then went top, 0.265 seconds faster than Schumacher, then Jordan driver Narain Karthikeyan had several lucky escapes around his flying lap before Felipe Massa slotted into third.

Heidfeld then moved 0.793 seconds clear on his lap and Barrichello could only manage to slot in just ahead of his teammate Schumacher more than one second slower than the lead Williams.

Coulthard came close to taking the top spot in his Star Wars liveried Red Bull car but lost time on the final sector and finished 0.201 seconds slower than Heidfeld to slot into second with seven cars left to run.

Montoya started his first flying lap strongly with the fastest time in the first sector and improved in the second part of the lap before finishing with a time 0.270 seconds to move into the lead.

Webber then went ahead with a time of 1:14.584, bettering Montoya's best by 0.274, but Fisichella, out next, was not fast enough to get ahead and had to settle for second, 0.199 seconds behind.

Schumacher then made his mistake and the session was stopped for 19 minutes before his teammate Trulli ventured out for his flying lap, but he took a cautious run before Alonso and Raikkonen battled it out for top spot.

Pos       Driver        Team                  Time
 1.  (18) Raikkonen     McLaren-Mercedes  (M) 1:13.644
 2.  (17) Alonso        Renault           (M) 1:14.125 + 0.481
 3.  (13) Webber        Williams-BMW      (M) 1:14.584 + 0.940
 4.  (14) Fisichella    Renault           (M) 1:14.783 + 1.139
 5.  (12) Montoya       McLaren-Mercedes  (M) 1:14.858 + 1.214
 6.   (9) Heidfeld      Williams-BMW      (M) 1:15.128 + 1.484
 7.  (16) Trulli        Toyota            (M) 1:15.189 + 1.545
 8.  (11) Coulthard     Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:15.329 + 1.685
 9.   (5) Villeneuve    Sauber-Petronas   (M) 1:15.921 + 2.277
10.  (10) Barrichello   Ferrari           (B) 1:16.142 + 2.498
11.   (4) M.Schumacher  Ferrari           (B) 1:16.186 + 2.542
12.   (8) Massa         Sauber-Petronas   (M) 1:16.218 + 2.574
13.   (1) Liuzzi        Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:16.817 + 3.173
14.   (2) Friesacher    Minardi-Cosworth  (B) 1:18.574 + 4.930
15.   (3) Albers        Minardi-Cosworth  (B) 1:19.229 + 5.585
16.   (7) Monteiro      Jordan-Toyota     (B) 1:19.408 + 5.764
17.   (6) Karthikeyan   Jordan-Toyota     (B) 1:19.474 + 5.830
18.  (15) R.Schumacher  Toyota            (M) No Time

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