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Alonso the first Spaniard to ever take pole 22 Mar 2003

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang, Malaysia, 21 March 2003

Nine Spaniards have raced in Formula One, but 21
year-old Fernando Alonso is the only one to achieve
the distinction of starting a Grand Prix from pole
position. He also takes away from Rubens Barrichello
the accolade of being the youngest-ever driver to
achieve a fastest qualifying time.

Tomorrow he could also become the first Spaniard ever
to win a Grand Prix. In the 1956 British Grand Prix
playboy racer Marquis Fon de Portago finished second
for Ferrari, but the careers of fellow countrymen
Francesco Godia, Alex Soler Roig, Emilio de Villota,
Adrian Campos, Luis Perez Sala, Pedro de la Rosa and
Marc Gene have between them never seen a trip to the
top step of the podium - although de la Rosa and Gene
are currently test-drivers for McLaren Mercedes and
BMW Williams respectively, and could undoubtedly
return to the race-grid given time.

Alonso's achievement was almost certainly a product of
a relatively light fuel load. But how light? We'll
have to wait until the race to find out. It's still
worth noting that, since he joined the team, Alonso's
pace against his team-mate, a noted fast qualifier,
has been impressive.

"It is a very special day for me," Alonso said. "It
feels like a dream. I was aiming for a good place on
the grid but expected to see my name slipping down the
list at the end of the session. But it didn't happen
and I got a great surprise when Michael finished his
lap."