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Saturday, June 21, 2008

200th pole for Ferrari

It’ll be a Ferrari front row as the Scuderia notched it’s 200th pole at Magny-Cours, with Kimi Raikkonen taking the top honors and Felipe Massa in second.

“I am very happy with this result, not just for myself but above all for the team. It is a pleasure to have taken Ferrari's two hundredth pole even if, at the moment, I have only played a small part in the history of Scuderia,” Raikkonen said.

Massa also took pride in the team’s accomplishment.

“I am happy that the team recorded its two hundredth pole position today and it's an honour for me to have made a small contribution to this milestone," the Brazilian said.

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton qualified third, but will start from 13th on the grid due to his 10-place penalty for pitlane shenanigans in Montreal.

“While my grid penalty doesn't exactly hang over me, it doesn't help - but I'll take it on the chin,” Hamilton said. “Overtaking is going to be tough on Sunday but I'm confident we're going to be quick. And, as always, I'll be pushing as hard as I can to score as many points as possible for the team."

The Silver Arrows’ woes will be compounded as Heikki Kovalainen received a five-spot penalty for blocking, dropping him to 10th on the grid.

“Owing to the penalty I was given following the mix-up with two other cars, I will start 10th; not ideal, but it's perfectly possible to score points from there and that's what I intend to do," Kovalainen said.

Home team Renault’s Fernando Alonso starts third. Teammate Nelson Piquet, who continued Renault’s home soil resurgence by taking top time in the Saturday morning practice session, starts ninth.

It was a tough day for BMW Sauber, neither drivers seemingly able to get their cars to work on the track. Canadian winner Robert Kubica starts fifth on the rejiggered grid, while teammate Nick Heidfeld was a victim of Q2 and starts 11th.

"It looks like we are having a difficult weekend. After yesterday's free practice sessions I was expecting us to struggle,” Kubica explained. “The balance of the car is not how I want it to be and my car has a poor overall grip.”

It was an even tougher day for Honda, as Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button joined the Force Indias and Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima in the drop zone in Q1.

"A very disappointing qualifying session today. The car was well balanced and we are pretty much getting the maximum performance from it, however unfortunately our pace reflects where we are at this track, Button said. “Hopefully we can be more competitive in race trim but it's disappointing and unexpected as we thought that the car would perform better around this circuit."

Barrichello agreed.

"A pure lack of performance from the car today. Having achieved a good balance after practice, it's hard to accept the lack of pace, but we just have to try and do our best from here and see what the race will bring," the Brazilian concurred.

Williams’ Nico Rosberg also has his work cut out for him. Eliminated in Q2, his 10-place penalty puts him at the back of the grid. Sebs Bourdais and Vettel also missed out on the final session.

With the McLaren penalties, Toyota benefits almost as well as Renault, with Jarno Trulli starting from fourth and Timo Glock in eighth. The Toyotas are sporting black bands on the cars to honor the late Ove Anderrson.

"Clearly this is a particularly important weekend for us as we are remembering Ove Andersson and everything he has done for us,” Trulli said. “This is a good start and we want to dedicate everything we achieve this weekend to him."

Red Bull’s Mark Webber (sixth) and David Coulthard (seventh) round out the top ten.

With McLaren’s penalty and BMW Sauber’s struggles, Raikkonen is looking for a points.

“If I was not to win, I would obviously be a bit disappointed, but the most important thing is to finish and bring home the maximum number of points, because we really need them," he said.

The action kicks off Sunday at 2 pm local time. U.S. fans -- this is the second of four races to be aired on Fox -- 1 pm EDT on tape delay.

The Starting Grid

1. Raikkonen, Ferrari
2. Massa, Ferrari
3. Alonso, Renault
4. Trulli, Toyota
5. Kubica, BMW
6. Webber, Red Bull
7. Coulthard, Red Bull
8. Glock, Toyota
9. Piquet, Renault
10. Kovalainen, McLaren*
11. Heidfeld, BMW
12. Vettel, Toro Rosso
13. Hamilton, McLaren**
14. Bourdais, Toro Rosso
15. Nakajima, Williams
16. Button, Honda
17. Barrichello, Honda
18. Fisichella, Force India
19. Sutil, Force India
20. Rosberg, Williams**

* five-place penalty for blocking
** 10-place penalties for Montreal incident Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six

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