By Andrew Benson
BBC Sport at Silverstone
World championship leader Fernando Alonso set pole position for the British Grand Prix with rival Kimi Raikkonen down in 12th after a penalty.
BRITISH GP QUALIFYING
1 F Alonso (Renault)
2 K Raikkonen* (McLaren)
3 J Button (BAR)
4 J Montoya(McLaren)
5 J Trulli (Toyota)
6 R Barrichello (Ferrari)
7 G Fisichella (Renault)
8 T Sato (BAR)
9 R Schumacher (Toyota)
*Raikkonen penalised 10 places after an engine failure
Alonso set a one minute 19.905 seconds lap to beat Raikkonen's McLaren by 0.027secs. BAR's Jenson Button's was third fastest and will start second.
Raikkonen will start 12th after an engine failure in practice triggered an automatic 10-place grid penalty.
McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth ahead of Jarno Trulli's Toyota.
Rubens Barrichello was the fastest Ferrari driver just behind Trulli, with world champion Michael Schumacher putting in only the 10th fastest time.
Alonso said that for Renault to be on pole was "a little unexpected".
The Spaniard said earlier in the weekend that McLaren would be the pace-setters at Silverstone.
"The car felt much better than yesterday," he said.
"The team did an incredible job making some changes overnight, so we were confident going into qualifying.
"Probably not confident enough to get the pole, but still, it is obviously very good to be here."
He also said he was "very confident" of a good race.
Raikkonen, who also suffered an engine failure in practice at the last race, said: "It's not the ideal situation but there is nothing I can do about it. I just have to drive as quickly as I can.
"But this is not the way to win the championship. We are not so quick that we can afford to sacrifice 10 places at every race."
Button added: "It's a great feeling to be at the front and be able to fight with the Renaults and McLarens.
"We didn't quite expect it - we've had a tough time this year. But I think we can do some pretty good things from there, and it can only get better from here."
Precise comparisons between the potential race pace of the cars are not possible after qualifying because it is not yet clear how much fuel is in each car.
F1 drivers are not allowed to refuel between qualifying and the start of the race, so fuel loads in qualifying can vary dramatically depending on the strategy chosen by the team.
Raikkonen, whose McLaren has looked very fast in practice, will be hoping to make rapid progress from his midfield grid position.
And despite Button's impressive performance, Alonso will expect his toughest competition to come from Montoya.
The Colombian was forced to set his qualifying lap early in the session when the track is in a slower condition after retiring from the last race, yet was only 0.477secs off the pace.
Follow the British Grand Prix live on the BBC Sport website. The race starts at 1300 BST on Sunday.
British Grand Prix qualifying:
1. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault 1:19.905
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) McLaren 1:19.932*
3. Jenson Button (GB) BAR 1:20.207
4. Juan Pablo Montoya (Col) McLaren 1:20.382
5. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 1:20.459
6. Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Ferrari 1:20.906
7. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Renault 1:21.010
8. Takuma Sato (Jap) BAR 1:21.114
9. Ralf Schumacher (Ger) Toyota 1:21.191
10. Michael Schumacher (Ger) Ferrari 1:21.275
11. Jacques Villeneuve (Can) Sauber 1:21.352
12. Mark Webber (Aus) Williams 1:21.997
13. David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull 1:22.108
14. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) Williams 1:22.117
15. Christian Klien (Aut) Red Bull 1:22.207
16. Felipe Massa (Bra) Sauber 1:22.495
17. Narain Karthikeyan (Ind) Jordan 1:23.583
18. Christijan Albers (Net) Minardi 1:24.576
19. Patrick Friesacher (Aut) Minardi 1:25.566
20. Tiago Monteiro (Por) Jordan
*Raikkonen will be penalised 10 places after an engine failure in Saturday practice