Kimi Raikkonen on pole for French Grand Prix

2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen will start in pole position of the French Grand Prix. His team-mate, Brazilian Felipe Massa, will start in the second line while French rider Sébastien Bourdais is only 14th.


Defending drivers world champion Kimi Raikkonen lived up to his promise on Saturday when he claimed pole position for Ferrari for Sunday's French Grand Prix.


The 28-year-old Finn clocked a best time of one minute and 16.449 seconds to outpace his nearest rival and team-mate Brazilian Felipe Massa by just 0.041 seconds, the pair making sure it was an all-Ferrari front row.


And Raikkonen insisted he could have gone even faster.


"I had quite a bit faster lap on the lap I came in, but the team told me to box it because I was fastest anyhow, there was no point to waste a lap of fuel," said Raikkonen, who has not scored a point in the last two races.


"That last lap I was at least two tenths faster so just at the last moment I turned in when I was at the last chicane, when the team told me to box.


"We had good speed all weekend, the car has been working well and it has been a great weekend so far but tomorrow we have to finish and hopefully we can win because we need some points."


 Briton Lewis Hamilton was third-fastest for McLaren Mercedes, but he will be relegated 10 places to 13th on the grid as a punishment for his crash in the pitlane where he ignored a red light at the Canadian Grand Prix.


Spaniard Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest for Renault, a result that means the double world champion will start third with Italian Jarno Trulli alongside him on the grid for Toyota.


Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Finn Heikki Kovalainen was sixth and will start fifth ahead of Pole Robert Kubica, the championship leader, in his BMW Sauber, Australian Mark Webber and his Red Bull team-mate Briton David Coulthard, and German Timo Glock who completed the top ten fastest times for Toyota.


The pole was the 16th of Raikkonen's career and gives him a great chance of bouncing back in the drivers' championship in which he is currently fourth behind Kubica, Hamilton and Massa.


After a warm morning, the afternoon qualifying session began under blue skies with the temperature rising to 27 degrees Celsius in the air and 45 degrees on the track.


The first part-session saw the swift elimination of German Adrian Sutil and his Force India team-mate Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, who will fill the back row of the grid, behind the two Hondas of Briton Jenson Button and Brazilian Rubens Barrichello.


Also knocked out was Japanese Kazuki Nakajima of Williams who will start from 16th on the grid.


The second mini-session saw the departure from the fray of Nakajima's team-mate German Nico Rosberg, meaning that the rear three rows were in pairs of Williams, Honda and Force India.


Also out were local hero Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais of Toro Rosso and his team-mate German Sebastian Vettel who should share the seventh row of the grid.


German Nick Heidfeld of BMW Sauber and Brazilian Nelson Piquet, who was fastest for Renault in the morning's final practice session, were also unable to progress to the top-ten shootout in the final session.


That began slowly, but soon picked up pace and incident when Trulli sent his Toyota into a spin at the hairpin, the Italian recovering his car to rejoin the action.


That was followed by the increasingly familiar sight of Hamilton running off the circuit and across the trackside dirt -- before rejoining the fray as the session entered the final decisive minutes.

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