posted on Jul, 3 2004 @ 11:03 AM
Fernando Alonso took his third Formula One pole position on Saturday with a superb qualifying effort for the French Grand Prix at Mangy Cours. The
Spaniard, driving a Renault, set a new lap record with a time of one minute 13.698 seconds to put world champion Michael Schumacher in the shade.
Schumacher, who has won eight of the nine races this season, could not get within a quarter of a second of Alonso and ended the session 0.273secs
slower than pole position in second.
David Coulthard gave the new McLaren car an impressive debut with the third fastest time ahead of the BAR-Honda of fellow Briton Jenson Button. Jarno
Trulli and Juan Pablo Montoya completed the top six. Alonso went out fourth from last and had to sit and watch as Coulthard, Schumacher and Montoya
all tried to beat his time.
Schumacher seemed on course to grab pole when he was more than 0.2secs ahead of the Renault at the first split time, but his pace dropped off later in
Alonso said: "It was a good lap. I had two or three moments, and at the end of the lap I breaked a little bit late, but it didn't seem to lose me
too much time.
"To be on pole here for the team is really nice and a good feeling for the moment. But we have to wait and see what happens in the race.
"The car has been quick all weekend, and pole position gives me a solid base for the race.
"The car was under-steering a bit too much at low speed, but it was very stable in the high-speed corners."
Schumacher said: "We just weren't competitive in the last sector.
"Basically I was pushing very hard and I was pushing a bit too hard but there was nothing more I could do.
"You have McLarens and Williams back with a more competitive package so everything is a lot closer. The challenge in the race will be very