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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 July, 2004, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Alonso grabs French pole
QUALIFYING TIMES
Fernando Alonso
1 F Alonso 1:13.698
2 M Schumacher 1:13.971
3 D Coulthard 1:13.987
4 J Button 1:13.995
5 J Trulli 1:14.070
6 JP Montoya 1:14.172
7 T Sato 1:14.240
8 M Gene 1:14.275
9 K Raikkonen 1:14.346
10 R Barrichello 1:14.478
Fernando Alonso has given Renault pole position at their home French Grand Prix by beating Michael Schumacher in qualifying at Magny-Cours.

The Spaniard set a lap of one minute 13.698 seconds to beat the world championship leader by 0.273secs.

David Coulthard gave the new McLaren car an impressive debut with the third fastest time ahead of the BAR-Honda of fellow Briton Jenson Button.

Jarno Trulli and Juan Pablo Montoya completed the top six.

Alonso went out fourth from last and had to sit and watch as Coulthard, Schumacher and Montoya all tried to beat his time.

Schumacher seemed on course to grab pole when he was more than 0.2secs ahead of the Renault at the first split time, but his pace dropped off later in the lap.

The same fate befell Montoya.

Alonso said: "It was a good lap. I had two or three moments, and at the end of the lap I braked a little bit late, but it didn't seem to lose me too much time.

"To be on pole here for the team is really nice and a good feeling for the moment. But we have to wait and see what happens in the race.

Michael Schumacher
Schumacher said he was confident of a good race
"The car has been quick all weekend, and pole position gives me a solid base for the race.

"The car was under-steering a bit too much at low speed, but it was very stable in the high-speed corners."

Schumacher said: "We just weren't competitive in the last sector.

"Basically I was pushing very hard and I was pushing a bit too hard but there was nothing more I could do.

"You have McLarens and Williams back with a more competitive package so everything is a lot closer. The challenge in the race will be very interesting."

But the Ferrari driver said he was not worried about the race.

I was quickest in the first two sectors, but then I made a mistake because I was pushing too hard
Juan Pablo Montoya
"We're on the first row - we'll be there."

Marc Gene, standing in for the injured Ralf Schumacher at Williams, was eighth fastest just over 0.1secs behind Montoya and one place behind the second BAR of Takuma Sato.

Montoya, who was fastest in pre-qualifying, was disappointed to miss out on pole position after making an error late in his lap.

"I was quickest in the first two sectors, but then I made a mistake because I was pushing too hard and lost the rear of my car in the second high-speed chicane and I could only set the sixth time."

Kimi Raikkonen also made some mistakes on his lap and was disappointed to be ninth, nearly 0.4secs slower than Coulthard.

Schumacher's team-mate Rubens Barrichello was down in 10th - the Brazilian had to run first in qualifying after his car suffered a hydraulic failure in pre-qualifying.




SEE ALSO
Coulthard lauds new McLaren
03 Jul 04  |  Formula One
Mosley details parting shot
02 Jul 04  |  Motorsport
Trulli wants cut in speeds
01 Jul 04  |  Formula One
Mosley quits as FIA boss
01 Jul 04  |  Motorsport


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