NASCAR & Auto Racing

Alonso takes pole position for Italian GP, Hamilton second

MONZA, Italy – McLaren will start from the front at Sunday’s Italian GP after Fernando Alonso led teammate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying Saturday.

Alonso, the two-time defending F1 champion, circled the 3.6-mile circuit in 1 minute, 21.997 seconds to clinch his second pole position of the season. Hamilton was second with 1:22.360, giving McLaren the top two starting spots for the fifth time in 13 races.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was third with a 1:22.549, followed by BMW-Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld in 1:23.174.

“We’ve been quick all weekend,” said Alonso, who was also the fastest in practice. “Hopefully we can take that through to the race tomorrow.”

Massa’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who crashed in Saturday morning’s final practice session, could only manage fifth place with 1:23.183.

He was followed by BMW-Sauber’s Roberto Kubica with 1:23.446.

With five races left, Alonso, Hamilton, Massa and Raikkonen are separated by 16 points in the drivers’ standings.

Hamilton leads with 84 points, followed by Alonso with 79, Massa with 69, and Raikkonen with 68.

Raikkonen, who was runner-up in the Italian GP last year, slammed into the tire wall in the third and final practice session, forcing him to qualify in the spare car.

Japanese drivers Sakon Yamamoto, who drives for Spkyer, and Takuma Sato, who drives for Super Aguri, both skidded off the track during the first qualifying session. Neither was injured, although Yamamoto was forced to pit after damaging his car's front end.