F1: Alonso takes pole after Massa crash

Felipe Massa receives attention after his high-speed crash in Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying.
Fernando Alonso claimed a surprising pole position for the Hungary Grand Prix after a final qualifying session disrupted by a freak high-speed crash involving Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.

The Brazilian was hit in the face by a piece of debris that had flown off the rear suspension of compatriot Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn GP car. It caused him to lose control of his Ferrari at the 200 kph Turn Four and he careered into a tire barrier. Massa received lengthy medical attention in his car and was later airlifted by helicopter to a nearby hospital. His Ferrari team said he was in a “stable” condition, while Barrichello confirmed that Massa was conscious and talking while receiving treatment at the Hungarogring’s medical center. Early reports suggested it was unlikely Massa would take part in Sunday’s race where he would start 10th on the grid. The accident happened at the end of the second qualifying session and the action was suspended while officials checked for debris. When the third and final qualifying session got underway it was Renault’s Alonso who claimed pole with a time of one minute 21.559 seconds. Sebastian Vettel, second in the title race to Jenson Button, will start alongside Alonso on the front row, with his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber qualifying third.

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Button was only eighth fastest with Brawn GP teammate Barrichello 13th best, their worst qualifying performance of the season. Button delayed his final qualifying run while his car was checked out after the earlier incident. Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was fourth best for the improving McLaren team with Nico Rosberg in fifth for Williams. With the electronic timing system lost to the pit lane and the television coverage, former two-time world champion Alonso was at first unaware he had taken his first pole of the season. “We have made a good step forward and the car did improve in the last two races. We are more competitive, but I don’t think we are as quick as these two guys (referring to Red Bull drivers Vettel and Webber),” he said. “We will try to win, but being honest and realistic, our target is to get some good points,” added the Spaniard.