Formula One

Fernando Alonso takes Hungarian Grand Prix pole; Red Bull 2-3

The Canadian Press
7/25/2009 10:38:24 AM
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BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Fernando Alonso took pole position after a chaotic finish to qualifying Saturday at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where Ferrari's Felipe Massa was airlifted to a hospital following a high-speed accident.

The Renault driver's fastest lap of one minute 21.596 seconds around the Hungaroring circuit on Saturday was enough for the two-time world champion's first pole since the 2007 Italian GP.

Alonso was only confirmed as pole sitter following lengthy confusion in the paddock as all nine drivers in the final session waited to know results after the scoring system went down.

"My team said we don't know position you are," said Alonso, who picked up his first career win in Hungary six years ago. "When I got out of the car I asked other drivers how they did to get an idea. Some were telling me two or three-tenths of a second slower than me so I got excited."

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was eventually confirmed to start second ahead of teammate Mark Webber, while McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg of Williams rounded out the top five.

Ferrari said Massa was airlifted to a hospital in "stable condition" after a high-speed crash that occurred after a car piece from Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello hit him in the helmet. The 28-year-old Brazilian driver was conscious and moving his arms before being evacuated, but wore a neckbrace for support.

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali told Italian TV that Massa would not take part in Sunday's 70-lap race.

A spring flew up and struck Massa in the helmet, apparently dazing him as the Ferrari continued straight through a curb, across the track and through the gravel area alongside the circuit before slamming into a row of protective tires that line the circuit wall.

Massa appeared to regain control of the car just before the crash at turn No. 4 as his front brakes were locked upon the violent impact. It was unclear whether he required assistance in getting out, before he was taken away on a stretcher.

"He was very agitated," Barrichello said. "He had a cut in his head, which could have been from the part of my car that was on the track. He was talking, was conscious, but they have to analyze the cut. He was moving his arms and legs, they had to make him sleep because he was agitated."

Overall F1 leader Jenson Button will start from eighth and teammate Barrichello from 13th for the British team's worst qualifying result of the season. Red Bull now appears to have overtaken its main rival performance-wise going into the second half of the season.

Button has 68 points after the first nine races to lead Vettel by 21 points and Webber by 22.5 with eight races remaining. Barrichello is fourth with 44 points.

Alonso downplayed his chances of a first victory for Renault this season, with his only podium finish being second place at the rain-soaked Chinese GP.

"We're not as quick as these guys but we'll try to be competitive," the Spaniard said.

Red Bull is looking to complete a third straight 1-2 finish. Some of their rivals, however, are hoping to get an edge from the new KERS overtaking system on the long straightaway leading into the first corner.

Hamilton and teammate Heikki Kovalainen in sixth, as well as seventh-place Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari all have the hybrid system available.

"There's a long straight here so it should be an advantage," Raikkonen said.

Button, who at one point held a 32-point lead over Vettel, is at risk of missing the podium for the third straight race after winning six of the first seven this season.

Associated Press Writer Pablo Gorondi and Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

Fernando Alonso (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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