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Spanish GP: Raikkonen takes second successive pole

NEWS STORY
08/05/2005

No matter what happens this morning, two men will be starting this afternoon's race from the wrong end of the grid. Rubens Barrichello loses ten grid spots as a result of an engine change on Saturday morning, while Nick Heidfeld loses twenty spots - yes, even though only 18 cars are taking part - as a result of two engine changes. A ludicrous situation.

With the top six covered by less than a quarter of a second, we can expect a tight session today, especially between former teammates Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso, though let's not rule out Kimi Raikkonen.

The Bridgestones appear to need a lap before they 'come 'good', which accounts for Michael Schumacher's (relatively) poor qualifying pace, and Ross Brawn's insistence that the car will have good "race pace".

With five minutes remaining before the session kicks off, Patrick Friesacher settles into the cockpit of his Minardi PS05. The Austrian is first out this morning, followed by Albers, Monteiro, Karthikeyan and Villeneuve.

The air temperature is 19 degrees C, while the track temperature is 24 degrees. Conditions are absolutely perfect, with hardly a cloud in the sky.

At 10:00 precisely, Friesacher leaves his garage, the session begins. It's early days for the PS05, but the car certainly shows a lot of pace. He's really fighting the car, it's quite frightening to watch as he 'saws' away at the wheel. He crosses the line at 2:42.759.

Teammate Albers is next out, the Dutchman 0.7s up on Friesacher at the first split. He crosses the line at 2:41.141 to take provisional pole, maintaining the 0.7s lead over his teammate.

By the end of the second split Monteiro is 0.9s up on Albers, however as he crosses the line his Toyota engine blows big time, the first failure for some time. Nevertheless he goes quickest with a 2:39.943.

At this point the red flags come out as marshals remove oil from the track, Karthikeyan, who was already on his out lap, returns to his garage.

On track, it's a scene out of the seventies as the marshals clean the track with brushes and cement dust.

After several minutes, the lights go green, and Karthikeyan returns to the track.

At the first split the Indian is 0.6s up on his teammate, as he continues to impress. At the second split the gap is 0.7s. At the line the Jordan star posts 2:39.268, to take provisional pole, kicking up clouds of cement dust.

Next out is Jacques Villeneuve, who has admitted to being dreadful yesterday. At the first split the Canadian is 2.1s up on Karthikeyan, and so he should be. At the second split it's 2.4s, finally crossing the line at 2:36.480, to take provisional pole by 1.7s.

At the 'break', the marshals take full advantage of the lull and return to the track to lay more cement dust, even though, judging from Karthikeyan and Villeneuve's times it isn't really needed.

Next out is Tonio Liuzzi in the Red Bull, he's been looking good for much of the weekend. The Italian crosses the line to begin his lap, completing the first sector 0.5s to the good of Villeneuve. At the second split the gap is up to 1.1s, it's a good lap, thus far. At the line it's 2:35.302, a good lap.

All eyes on Juan Pablo Montoya, who admits to having a poor session yesterday. At the first split the Colombian is 0.7s up on Liuzzi. He's pushing hard, completing the second sector 1.1 up on the Red Bull. He positively charging, crossing the line at 2:33.472, to take provisional pole by 0.3s.

Felipe Massa is next out, he will me keen to beat his teammate. At the first split, not surprisingly, he's 0.1s down on the McLaren. At the second split he's 0.6s down, finally crossing the line at 2:34.224, to go second.

David Coulthard is on track, the Scot keen to reassert his authority within the Red Bull team. At the first split he's 0.1s up on Montoya, showing none of the caution that cost him so dearly on Saturday. At the second split however, he's 0.4s down on the McLaren, finally crossing the line at 2:34.168, to go second.

Rubens Barrichello, who was due to forfeit ten grid places anyway, opts not to go out, which means that there is an extended break.

Therefore, at the second break, Montoya is on provisional pole, ahead of Coulthard, Massa, Liuzzi, Villeneuve, Karthikeyan, Monteiro, Albers and Friesacher.

Melbourne winner Giancarlo Fisichella is next out, the Roman really needing a little bit of luck following a string of failures.. much like Rubens at Ferrari, the problems never appear to affect the 'other guy' in his garage.

At the first split the Renault driver is 0.3s up on Montoya. He's pushing hard and consequently has an 0.6s advantage at the second split. He crosses the line at 2:32.830 to take provisional pole. A strong lap.

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