Fisichella confirmed on pole

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The Independent Online

Giancarlo Fisichella claimed pole position for the Australian Grand Prix with ease as Formula One's new qualifying system threw up an unusual grid at Albert Park.

Giancarlo Fisichella claimed pole position for the Australian Grand Prix with ease as Formula One's new qualifying system threw up an unusual grid at Albert Park.

The Renault driver used the new aggregate qualifying system, which adds Saturday times to Sunday's, to his advantage to take just his second pole.

Rain yesterday left Fisichella in provisional pole position by a clear two seconds and he did not let that advantage slip in the final session, setting the second fastest time to cement his position at the top.

Jarno Trulli was another driver to benefit from yesterday's events and he held on to second place to give Toyota their best-ever grid position.

Home hero Mark Webber, driving a Williams, has his first podium finish in his sights after securing third place, with former world champion Jacques Villeneuve fourth.

Scotsman David Coulthard will make his Red Bull debut from fifth after a fine lap elevated him above team-mate Christian Klien.

Jenson Button had little chance to alter his grid position after first qualifying, with too much time between the BAR driver and his closest rivals. He completed a tidy lap to secure eighth on the grid.

World champion Michael Schumacher was among the worst affected by yesterday's downpour and he was left with an impossible task to fight his way up the grid due to the aggregate format.

With over 24 seconds between the Ferrari driver and Fisichella, Schumacher had no real chance of improving his position and opted not to set a lap, condemning him to start 18th.

He is not the only top driver to be languishing at the wrong end of the grid.

The McLaren duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya were among the pre-race favourites to win today but saw their chances damaged by the rain.

Montoya put in a strong lap to edge up the grid and claim ninth but Raikkonen ran wide on his and fell behind his team-mate, taking 10th.

While some of the leading drivers suffered at the hands of Melbourne's wet weather, Formula One's minnows enjoyed better-than-expected results.

Narain Karthikeyan will become India's first-ever grand prix driver from a respectable mid-grid starting spot after safely completing his final qualifying lap, despite two hairy moments, to claim 12th.

Minardi, whose team boss Paul Stoddart is still embroiled in a furious row with world governing body the FIA, have Patrick Friesacher and Christijan Albers starting 16th and 17th respectively.

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