Renault's Fernando Alonso turned in a nearly flawless qualifying lap yesterday, putting him in position to add the team title to his driver championship entering the season-ending Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.
First, he'll have to fend off a surging Kimi Raikkonen, the Formula One runner-up hoping to capture the team title for McLaren today.
Alonso won the driver's title two races ago, becoming Formula One's youngest champion at 24. The Spaniard earned his sixth pole position of 2005 and the ninth of his career. With teammate Giancarlo Fisichella qualifying second, Renault will dominate the front row of the starting grid for the first time this season.
"The car was perfect," Alonso said. "Tomorrow I am full of confidence for all the team."
McLaren and Renault are dueling for the constructors' title, whose standings determine how much funding each team receives from auto racing's governing body.
Renault leads McLaren by two points, reversing the two-point advantage that McLaren held last week. The competition could go down to the last lap of the last race, just as Raikkonen passed Fisichella on the final circuit of last week's Japanese Grand Prix.
* IRL: Dario Franchitti won the pole for the Toyota Indy 400 in Fontana, Calif., with a lap of 219.398 mph, a time of 32.9 seconds. All 22 drivers in the field were separated by just over a second. Danica Patrick wound up fourth at 218.199, while Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon qualified seventh at 217.702.
"The most magical and perfect way to end this season would be to win," Patrick said.