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Schumacher gains pole in Monaco Grand Prix

Michael Schumacher gained the provisional pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday in a controversial qualifying session.

india Updated: May 27, 2006 22:27 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

Michael Schumacher gained the provisional pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday in a controversial qualifying session.

After setting the fastest lap of 1 minute, 13.898 seconds early in the final section of qualifying, Schumacher looked like he lost control of his Ferrari on his final lap and stalled out on the track on the final turn.

"It was a misfortune at the end -- I went wide, I locked the wheels. I wasn't sure what was going on," Schumacher said. "You push and go for it and that was a bit too much." However, Schumacher managed to avoid contact with the wall and didn't damage his car.

If Schumacher keeps the pole he will have a great advantage on the twisting 3.34-kilometre (2.076-mile) street circuit because passing is extremely difficult.

It would be the 67th pole position of Schumacher's career and the third this season.

World champion Fernando Alonso of Renault -- who had been fastest in two of the three practice sessions -- was beating Schumacher's time through the first two sections but had to slow to avoid Schumacher and ended second with 1:13.962.

Alonso had no doubt he lost the pole because of Schumacher. At "the last corner I was three-tenths (of a second) quicker," Alonso said. "I was performing really well. Now we have to wait until tomorrow."

Alonso says he saw the yellow flags _ which tell drivers that there is danger ahead and be prepared to slow down. Stewards also check to make sure a driver does not set his fastest time in that section.

"At that moment you are so close, anything that could go wrong in final corner you lose the advantage," Alonso said. "Michael was on the outside and in the line."

Straight after the session ended, it was announced that the stewards were investigating the incident.

Schumacher said he was not worried about Renault lodging a complaint.

"I don't care what other people, other teams, do," Schumacher said.

Third was Mark Webber in a Williams, 1:14.082. Out of the six races this season, Alonso has won three, Schumacher two, and Alonso's teammate Giancarlo Fisichella one. McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, hoping to become the first repeat winner in more than 10 years here, was in fourth. Raikkonen had pole position last year in 1:13.644.

Ferrari suffered a blow when Felipe Massa crashed out on his first lap, putting him last on the starting grid. Massa also crashed out in qualifying at Malaysia. He has finished in the top four in his last three races.

Jenson Button of Honda, still looking first his first victory, was a casualty of the second 15-minute session, eliminated after finishing in the last six.

Button had a pole position at the Australian GP and started in the top three in the first four races of the season. Alonso leads the overall standings with 54 points, while second-place Schumacher has 39. The pair have taken the top two places in the last three races.

Schumacher, who has not won at Monte Carlo since 2001, is one victory short of equalling the late Ayrton Senna's record in Monte Carlo.

First Published: May 27, 2006 20:28 IST