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Last Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Alonso predicts Monaco surprises
Monaco Grand Prix, 28 May, 1300 BST

Fernando Alonso's Renault in practice for the Monaco Grand Prix
Alonso has never been on the podium at the Monaco Grand Prix
World champion Fernando Alonso believes there could be some surprise names at the front of the field in Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.

"In Monaco there are always some surprises, as we saw last year when Williams finished second and third," said the Renault driver.

"There will be some teams here that will be a surprise and will be in front of the top teams."

Alonso added qualifying would be "the most difficult part" of the weekend.

All the drivers will be out on the tight and twisty Monaco track in qualifying for the first time since 2002 because of the abandonment of the single-lap format that was used from 2003-5.

And the stakes are higher than ever on Saturday with the introduction of this year's three-part knockout format, which sees the slowest six cars eliminated after each of two 15-minute sessions before the final 10 shoot out for pole position.

Michael Schumacher's Ferrari during practice at the Monaco Grand Prix
I'm not trying to hide the fact that the situation is not looking that good

Michael Schumacher
Alonso said: "I'm sure that on Saturday afternoon we have a lot of discussions between the drivers

"We have to be patient, we know that its impossible for everybody to get a clear lap with 22 cars in three kilometres in one minute.

"The most important part of this weekend is the qualifying but at the same time the most difficult part." Alonso has never finished on the podium at Monaco in four attempts, but he said he would rank a win this weekend as a highlight of his career.

"Monaco, Indianapolis and Barcelona for me - circuits with big names, history in Formula One and motor racing and for sure a victory here is great," the Spaniard said.

And he said he expected Michael Schumacher to be challenging for victory on Sunday even though the Ferrari star has not won at Monaco since 2001.

"Monaco is a drivers' circuit, for sure, but it is also a car circuit," Alonso said.

"Michael in the last four or five years has not won here because he didn't have the right car to win. No-one thinks that Michael was not able to win because of his driving style."

Schumacher said he was hopeful of figuring strongly despite a relatively low-key performance in practice on Thursday, when he was fourth in the first session and 15th in the second.

"There is work to do but we have enough experience to get out of this situation," Schumacher said.

"Obviously we cannot be too happy with what we have seen so far, although the results can partly be explained by the fact we used just one set of tyres.

"But I'm not trying to hide the fact that the situation is not looking that good. At the moment we are too slow and have to study the data to find out why."

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