An all-Renault front row in Spain 13 May 2006
Fernando Alonso gave his countrymen what they wanted in Barcelona on Saturday afternoon, by taking his second consecutive pole position with a lap of 1m 14.648s. And, crucially for Renaults strategy, Giancarlo Fisichella backed him with a strong lap of 1m 14.709s, which was good enough to resist Michael Schumachers final challenge which left the German third on 1m 14.970s. With Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa posting 1m 15.442s, Renault and their greatest title rivals occupied the prime positions.
In the closing stages Jenson Button tumbled from fifth place as Honda team mate Rubens Barrichello banged in a lap of 1m 15.885s, which was then matched by Ralf Schumacher in the Toyota. With Jarno Trulli also improving, to 1m 15.976s, Buttons 1m 16.008s left him on the outside of the fourth row. On the fifth, Kimi Raikkonen seemed unobtrusive on his way to 1m 16.015s for McLaren as Nick Heidfelds 1m 17.180s left his BMW Sauber 10th.
The first session proved disastrous for David Coulthard, who went off in Turn 3 on his first flying lap and backed his Red Bull into the wall. With the rear wing torn off, together with much of the rear suspension, the hapless Scot was clearly through for the day and would be on the back row of the grid.
The session also weeded out another Scott, Speed, who lapped his Toro Rosso in 1m 17.361s for 17th fastest. There was a bit of a gap to Tiago Monteiros Midland on 1m 17.702s, while Christijan Albers was unhappy to be blocked by one of the Super Aguris en route to 1m 18.028s. Takuma Sato was 20th on 1m 18.920s, leaving Franck Montagny 21st. However all this bunch will be promoted a place thanks to Jacques Villeneuves engine penalty - and given that he was last on the grid anyway, BMW subsequently opted to change Villeneuve's V8 yet again ahead of Sunday's race.
The next session accounted for Mark Webber, who lapped his Williams in 1m 15.502s but got bumped at the last moment when Giancarlo Fisichella improved. It meant the Australian would go missing from the top-ten shootout for the first time. Next came a very unhappy Juan Pablo Montoya on 1m 15.801s, Nico Rosberg on 1m 15.800s, Villeneuve on 1m 15.87s, Christian Klien on 1m 15.928s and Vitanonio Liuzzi on 1m 16.661s. With Villeneuves fall, Klien and Liuzzi also made up a place in the order.
That left Michael Schumacher, Fisichella, Trulli, Alonso, Button, Ralf Schumacher, Massa, Barrichello, Raikkonen and Heidfeld to go on to the final session.
With Fisichella second, Renault are ideally poised to have the Italian hold back the Ferraris while Alonso builds up enough of a lead to stop before the red cars, if indeed it transpires that the blue cars were running a little lighter. But perhaps it was the Ferraris with a little it less in their tanks and a mountain to climb come the race. Either way, with Button and Raikkonen apparently on high fuel runs, the stage is set for a great Spanish Grand Prix.
We had no problems and we did our job in the car," Alonso said after clinching his first home pole. Tomorrow we have to think of victory; its possible."