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Alonso gets vital pole for China battle

It was the sixth pole for Alonso this season, but his first since June when he won his last race, the Canadian Grand Prix.

india Updated: Sep 30, 2006 22:39 IST

It has been a very hectic last couple of weeks for me - I spent a few days testing the interim Williams chassis with the Toyota engine at Silverstone. I'm very happy and proud that my contract with Williams F1 has been extended for one more year.

The fact that Williams F1 have signed me on so early displays their faith in my abilities as we embark upon a new partnership with Toyota, who will supply us engines 2007 onwards.

Coming to this weekend's race, F1 is back in Asia - China this weekend and Japan the next. This will be only the third year a race will be held at the amazing Shanghai International Circuit.

The track is designed along the lines of the Chinese character for "high". The track layout is a demanding mix of straights, turns and hairpins. Over the 5.4km lap, the drivers will negotiate seven left and seven right-hand turns.

With so many slow and medium speed corners over one lap, the car must have perfect balance, achieved through an efficient aero package.

The engineers must provide a set-up which offers high top speeds and low drag levels without compromising the cornering stability. The track offers ample room for overtaking and should be the perfect setting for a rivetting race on Sunday afternoon.

On Saturday, qualifying was under wet conditions, which seemed to suit the Michelin users more as they were able to run better on intermediate tyres, as compared with the Bridgestone-shod cars, who had to switch to full wet weather tyres.

Sunday's weather forecast is for completely dry conditions, which should bring the Bridgestone runners back on the pace. Fernando Alonso was very quick throughout the qualifying session, even improving on his own pole position time by almost a full second.

Giancarlo Fisichella proved that Renault are back on the pace with a fine second fastest lap. The Hondas occupy the second row of the grid with Rubens Barrichello ahead of Jenson Button.

Kimi Raikkonen is fifth and Ferrari's Michael Schumacher is only sixth fastest. He's going to have a tough time working his way through the field, but if anybody can do it, it is Michael!

First Published: Sep 30, 2006 13:29 IST