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Alonso takes pole in McLaren Monaco lock-out

NEWS STORY
26/05/2007

Ahead of this afternoon's all-important qualifying session the air temperature is 26 degrees C, while the track temperature is 30 degrees.

After this morning's free practice session, which, thanks to the conditions, was something of a lottery, it remains to be seen how this afternoon's session will take shape. It might be sunny right now, but in Monaco's unique micro-climate things can change without warning.

As for how important pole position is here – ignoring the obvious pitfalls that await drivers at Ste Devote on the first lap - there is the ominous fact that for nine of the last twelve years the driver who has started from the front row has gone on to win the race. Therefore, one could argue that anyone not starting from the ‘top spot’ tomorrow might as well give up any hope of taking home some silverware and mixing it with the Grimaldis on the podium.

Fernando Alonso walks up the pitlane towards the McLaren garage, he's followed by Michael Schumacher, who must surely be feeling that little competitive tickle in his tummy. The two greet one another, and the Spaniard's pleasure at meeting his former sparring partner seems genuine. Meanwhile, it's started raining.

It's a brief shower, and by the time the lights go green for the start of the first phase of the session, it has stopped. Indeed the track is already beginning to dry.

Jenson Button is first out, followed by Barrichello, Kubica, Coulthard, Webber, Rosberg and Wurz.

Button posts the first time of the session but it's way off target, the Briton having slowed down to allow another car to pass. Once the first wave of cars have posted times it's Rosberg who is quickest, though he's quickly demoted by Button and then Barrichello.

An 18.373 sees Kubica go quickest, but this is soon eclipsed by Rosberg. However, all eyes are on Kimi Raikkonen who posts a 17.905 to go quickest, ahead of Fisichella.

2006 winner Fernando Alonso goes quickest, but is instantly leapfrogged by his English teammate who posts a 16.924.

The two McLarens are setting a sizzling pace, with Alonso looking very aggressive. For a brief instant Alonso re-takes the top spot, but Hamilton has the last word, topping his teammate by 0.6s.

The Ferrari duo of Raikkonen and Massa go 2-3 splitting the McLarens, only for Alonso to hit back with a 16.470. It is fast and furious out there.

Of the big names, Webber and Trulli are still in the 'danger zone'.

Although he's top of the timesheets, Hamilton is still pushing, going quickest in the first two sectors. The youngster crosses the line at 15.685, that's 0.8s faster than his teammate.

Interestingly, Coulthard goes out on the harder compound, as Trulli goes tenth, thereby relegating Kovalainen to the danger zone.

As Liuzzi goes fifth, Coulthard pushes hard, keen not to be eliminated at the first hurdle. The Scot posts 17.462 to go eighth, ahead of Kubica and Rosberg.

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