F1: Alonso grabs fifth pole position in a row
Spaniard will start from the top slot for the first time in Canada as he chases a fourth straight victory.india Updated: Jul 19, 2006 18:18 IST
Formula One World champion Fernando Alonso seized pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix on Saturday as Renault swept the front row for the second time this season.
The 24-year-old Spaniard will start from the top slot for the fifth consecutive race but the first time in Canada as he chases a fourth straight victory.
Italian team mate Giancarlo Fisichella, who led for almost half of last year's race before suffering an hydraulics failure, will line up alongside Alonso.
McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, last year's winner, starts third but Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, Alonso's main championship rival 23 points behind in the standings, qualified a disappointing fifth.
"It was tough competition," Alonso told reporters after his 14th career pole position. "We have first and second, now we have to finish the job tomorrow.
"I think we have been really competitive in the first half of the season and in the ninth race to have both Renaults on the front row means the team is developing the car and working hard to win the championship again this year.
"I think these two races will be difficult for us," he added, referring to the U.S. Grand Prix that follows Canada next weekend.
"We know that these are good circuits for Ferrari, high speed and low downforce, but in the first one we are doing our maximum."
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has not been kind to Alonso, who has failed to reach the finish in three of four career starts here. He crashed out in 2005, the last time he has failed to finish a race.
But the Spaniard had no problems on a sweltering day in Montreal, charging around the sun-kissed circuit in a time of one minute, 14.942 seconds.
Fisichella, four-times on the podium in Canada, was clocked at 1:15.178.
"No problems with the car, the car was straight away quick, so no problems for tomorrow," said Alonso.
Raikkonen will be joined on the second row by Toyota's Jarno Trulli, in confident mood despite having failed to score a point so far this season.
With speculation swirling around his driving future this week, Raikkonen insisted he was focused only on this weekend's race and was good on his word with a solid qualifying effort leaving the Finn hopeful of a repeat win.
"I'm confident we should be able to leave Montreal with a good result," said Raikkonen.
Seven times world champion Schumacher was joined on the third row by German rookie Nico Rosberg, who angered his Williams team mate Mark Webber by blocking him in the first session.
Schumacher, winner of two races this season after a dismal 2005, will be chasing what would be an historic victory in Montreal.
The German can become the first driver to win the same grand prix eight times.
Although Schumacher left himself some hard work, he cannot be counted out after claiming his last Canadian win in 2004 from sixth on the grid.
"Obviously we can't be happy with the result, especially in light of the championship situation," said Schumacher. "We made some progress from yesterday but are still suffering from a lack of grip.
"The result of all this is is that I will find myself starting from the fifth position and therefore with a rather complicated race ahead of me."