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Alonso pips Button to pole 09 Jul 2005

Jenson Button (GBR) BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, 9 July 2005

A dramatic qualifying session for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone saw the final three runners each take pole in turn - leaving Championship leader Fernando Alonso on the top of the pile with another P1 grid spot for tomorrow's race.

Both Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen squeezed out Jenson Button from the Silverstone front row - but the Finn's engine failure this morning will see him dropped ten places down the order, leaving the English driver just a place away from the pole position that seemed to be within his grasp with a brilliant 1:20.207, with just two runners still to go. Raikkonen then improved that it 1:19.932, before Alonso asserted himself with 1:19.905 as the last man out.

Alonso and Button are both well pleased. The Spaniard believes that Renault has closed the gap to McLaren. And while Button complained of too much understeer in the many high-speed corners here, he added: "If we don't get a podium position, I will be disappointed. I was trying to talk our performance down a little before the weekend, and Renault will be very strong, but I hope we can have a good race and obviously that's our aim. We probably have a better car here than we've had all year, and I hope that nobody will be disappointed in what we do this weekend."

Raikkonen was philosophical about the mechanical problem that, for the second race running, drops him 10 places. He will start 12th.

Behind Montoya, elevated to third on the grid, Jarno trulli had a nice, clean lap in his Toyota for 1:20.459, and Rubens Barrichello completed the runners below 1m 21s with 1:20.906.

Giancarlo Fisichella was all set for a fast lap, and indeed claimed a momentary fastest time in the first sector, but he lost out in the second and was actually three tenths slower in the third than he had been on his out lap, - a 1:21.010 left him only seventh, sixth on corrected placing.

Takuma Sato and Ralf Schumacher will share the fourth row, with laps of 1:21.114 and 1:21.19 respectively, while the fifth will contain old enemies Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve. The reigning champion spoiled his run with a dirty moment exiting Stowe and could not recover the lost momentum on his way to 1:21.275; the former champ was much happier with his Sauber's aerodynamic balance thanks to the new front wing, on his way to 1:21.351.

Mark Webber will share row sixth with Raikkonen, the Australian pushing his MkII bodied Williams round in 1:21.997. Nick Heidfeld, who ran two cars earlier than his team-mate, kept his car as it was this morning and recorded 1:22.117.

David Coulthard's Red Bull was repaired in time for him to post 1:22.108 for 13th, while Christian Klien's 1:22.207 as first man out left him 15th, behind Heidfeld. Felipe Massa also started early, going out second, so the team opted to give him plenty of fuel and 1:22.295 for 16th place was the result.

Narain Karthikeyan managed a time of 1:23.583 to keep Jordan ahead of the Minardis, Christijan Albers lapping his PS05 in 1:24.576 and Patrick Friesacher his in 1:25.566. Tiago Monteiro, however, simply came in at the end of his out lap, having checked out that his newly installed Toyota engine was functioning correctly.

So that's the line-up, and a great race is in prospect. Can Button win? Will Alonso extend his series lead with his sixth triumph? Or can Raikkonen make it all the way through? The permutations are endless.