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Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Saturday, 26 April 2008 14:17 UK
Spanish Grand Prix
Circuit de Catalunya, Montmelo, 25-27 April, 2008

Sunday Grand Prix: 1300 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website

Kimi Raikkonen
Raikkonen raced to his first pole position of the 2008 season

Reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen produced a blistering final lap to qualify in pole position for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

The Ferrari driver clocked a time of one minute, 21.813 seconds to snatch pole from under the nose of home favourite Fernando Alonso.

Felipe Massa will start third on the grid at Circuit de Catalunya with BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica fourth.

Britain's Lewis Hamilton will have much to do after qualifying fifth fastest.

Hamilton is joined on the third row by McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber and Toyota's Jarno Trulli.

Nick Heidfeld's BMW Sauber and Renault's Nelson Piquet, in his best-ever qualifying result, round out the top 10.

Alonso looked as though he had pulled off a remarkable coup in front of his home side as he took provisional pole only to be bettered seconds later by Raikkonen, who was 0.091 seconds faster.

After a frustrating start to the season, Renault are beginning to show improved pace following an intensive testing period.


However, Alonso's flying lap in Barcelona was almost certainly a result of running lighter on fuel with the team's technical director Pat Symonds saying his performance was down to "strategy".

Nonetheless, Alonso was delighted to line up alongside Raikkonen on the top of the grid in front of his enthusiastic home supporters.

"I cannot be happier," said Alonso, who won two world titles with Renault. "We have made a step forward no doubt.

"This second place is more than what we could have expected for the whole weekend, so the job is nearly done.

"The team have made a first step in Barcelona and now we have aggressive plans to raise our level, and I'm optimistic."

Raikkonen will be favourite to take the chequered flag in Barcelona after claiming his first pole of the season, especially as the pole-sitter has gone on to win for the last seven straight years.

The Finn, who leads the drivers' standings after the first three races, waited until the very end of qualifying to put together a flawless lap to take pole.

"I've been trying to get pole so it's a nice feeling," said the defending world champion.

"I've been happier with the car here than in previous races and we've changed the set-up quite a bit so this should give us a better chance on Sunday."

I'm shocked and stunned that we didn't have the pace on a heavy fuel load

Lewis Hamilton

It was difficult to gauge the McLarens' performance in Barcelona and Hamilton conceded that he was shocked to find himself starting in fifth.

That is his worst qualifying result this season, although the Briton did start from ninth in Malaysia after being penalised five grid places.

"We seemed to be quick on a single lap but I'm shocked and stunned that we didn't have the pace on a heavy fuel load," said Hamilton.

"It shouldn't be a problem, though. We need to make sure we get a good start and move up some places.

"I feel confident but it's a shame we're not further up the grid."

It was also a disappointing qualifying session for Williams, although Kazuki Nakajima will be pleased to out-qualify team-mate Nico Rosberg for the first time this season. Nakajima starts in 12th with Rosberg 15th.

Sandwiched between them in 13th is Britain's Jenson Button, who still believes there is more to come from Honda.

He said: "I need a bit more time with the car to understand it. We have to work on this new aerodynamics package but I still think we can improve the car."

David Coulthard failed to get past the first round of qualifying for the second successive race as a combination of traffic and poor tyre performance saw him settle for 17th on the grid.

Raikkonen's pole in Barcelona means it is the first time since 1983 that four different drivers have held pole position at the season's first four races.

Final grid positions for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix:

1. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1 min 21.813 secs
2. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault 1:21.904
3. Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 1:22.058
4. Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber 1:22.065
5. Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren - Mercedes 1:22.096
6. Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) McLaren - Mercedes 1:22.231
7. Mark Webber (Aus) RedBull - Renault 1:22.429
8. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 1:22.529
9. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber 1:22.542
10. Nelsinho Piquet (Brz) Renault 1:22.699
11. Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda 1:21.049
12. Kazuki Nakajima (Jap) Williams - Toyota 1:21.117
13. Jenson Button (GB) Honda 1:21.211
14. Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota 1:21.230
15. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams - Toyota 1:21.349
16. Sebastien Bourdais (Fra) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 1:21.724
17. David Coulthard (GB) RedBull - Renault 1:21.810
18. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 1:22.108
19. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Force India - Ferrari 1:22.516
20. Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India - Ferrari 1:23.224
21. Anthony Davidson (GB) Super Aguri - Honda 1:23.318
22. Takuma Sato (Jpn) Super Aguri - Honda 1:23.496

see also
Ecclestone ups pressure on Mosley
27 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Raikkonen leads the way in Spain
25 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Super Aguri get Spanish reprieve
25 Apr 08 |  Formula One
F1 anti-racism campaign launched
24 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Ferrari boss cool on Alonso link
23 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton confident ahead of Spain
17 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Mark Webber column
19 Apr 08 |  Formula One
The rapid rise of BMW Sauber
25 Apr 08 |  Formula One

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