NASCAR & Auto Racing

Raikkonen takes pole ahead of Ferrari teammate Massa for Belgian Grand Prix

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium – Kimi Raikkonen took pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday, edging Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa and the two McLaren drivers.

Behind the red Ferrari cars, world champion Fernando Alonso just got third place ahead of overall leader Lewis Hamilton, setting up a close race for Sunday.

Raikkonen, who won here when the Grand Prix was last contested in 2005, lapped the scenic 4.325-mile) track in 1 minute, 45.994 seconds, holding an edge of .017 seconds over Brazil’s Massa.

McLaren’s Alonso used a late run, moving from 10th place to third, and beat Hamilton in 1:46.091 by a margin of .315 margin over his rookie teammate.

The standings in the driver’s championship are almost as close.

After winning the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday, Alonso trails Hamilton 92-89, compared to a 14-point gap after the French Grand Prix on July 11.

Raikkonen is third with 74 points. His pole position though kept him in with an outside chance of coming back and grabbing the title.

After Spa, there are only three races remaining – in Japan, China and Brazil.

Alonso is seeking his third title in a row. Alonso, who has been implicated in the highly publicized spy scandal involving Ferrari information, spun off with just five minutes to go in qualifying. He scrambled back to the pits and got back on track to put in one final fast lap.

In the spying scandal, McLaren was fined $100 million Thursday and was kicked out of the constructors’ championship. The sport’s governing body FIA published e-mails from Alonso on Friday that it said directly implicated him.

FIA quoted exchanges it said proved that Alonso and McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa were in unauthorized possession of secret technical information belonging to F1 rival Ferrari.