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Raka moves Schumi to gain pole for Germany

Raikkonen nipped Schumacher in Saturday's qualifying to gain his first pole of the season and sour what could be Schumacher's final race at home.
None | By Associated Press, Hockenheim
PUBLISHED ON JUL 29, 2006 08:44 PM IST

Kimi Raikkonen upstaged Michael Schumacher and will start from the pole position in Sunday's German Grand Prix.

Raikkonen nipped Schumacher in Saturday's qualifying to gain his first pole of the season and sour what could be Schumacher's final race at home.

"We are still on the front row, but obviously I would have preferred to be on the pole in my home Grand Prix," Schumacher said. "I hope it's because we were carrying more fuel."

The German had the fastest lap of the day in the second qualifying session but then added fuel before his final attempt that counted, indicating he might be planning for a later pit stop in Sunday's 67-lap race.

Schumacher was still far ahead of defending Formula One champion and points leader Fernando Alonso, who trailed seventh on the day of his 25th birthday, matching his worst qualifying of the season. "It's a great situation," Schumacher said. "We've had a very good weekend so far."

After 11 of 18 races, the Spaniard leads the championship with 96 points and Schumacher has 79. A victory is worth 10 points.

Raikkonen clocked 1 minute, 14.070 seconds on the 4.574-kilometer (2.842-mile) Hockenheimring circuit before spinning out in the final minutes of the qualifying session in his McLaren-Mercedes.

"I had nothing to lose so I tried too hard, the corner was not big enough for me," said Raikkonen, who earned his ninth career pole.

It was a welcome boost for McLaren, which is going through a troubled season. The team is still winless this year and was shaken by the firing of second driver Juan Pablo Montoya. His replacement, Pedro de la Rosa, collided with the Toyota of Ralf Schumacher and finished ninth in qualifying. Ralf was eighth.

Michael Schumacher, the elder of the two brothers, was .135 seconds behind Raikkonen, with Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa third at 1:14.569. Jenson Button was fourth in his Honda in 1:14.862.

Giancarlo Fisichella was fifth in the second Renault, followed by Honda's Rubens Barrichello. David Coulthard completed the top 10 in his Red Bull.

Michael Schumacher is seeking his third straight Grand Prix win in Sunday's German race.

The seven-time Formula One champion's straight wins in the United States and France snapped Alonso's four-race streak. The Renault driver has won six races so far this season and has only one finish outside the top two. Schumacher has four wins.

No car apart from Renault or Ferrari has won a race this season, with one victory going to Alonso's teammate Giancarlo Fisichella. Schumacher has delayed a decision on his future until September.

If he decides to retire, this would be his final race in Germany. With 88 career wins, Schumacher is the most successful driver in Formula One history. He has three victories in Hockenheim, where Alonso won last year.

American driver Scott Speed, of Scuderia Toro Rosso, had a wheel damaged coming out of the first turn only five minutes into the qualifying session and spun around half a dozen times before hitting a concrete wall. He was not hurt.

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