Sun, Jul 26, 2009 - Page 20 News List

F1: Alonso grabs pole after Felipe Massa airlifted to hospital

AP , BUDAPEST

Fernando Alonso took pole position after a chaotic finish to qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix yesterday. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was airlifted to hospital following a high-speed accident.

The Renault driver’s fastest lap of 1 minute, 21.596 seconds around the Hungaroring circuit was enough for the two-time world champion’s first pole since the 2007 Italian Grand Prix.

Alonso was only confirmed as pole sitter following lengthy confusion in the paddock as all nine drivers in the final session waited to know results after the scoring system went down.

“My team said we don’t know what position you are,” said Alonso, who picked up his first career win in Hungary six years ago. “When I got out of the car, I asked other drivers how they did to get an idea. Some were telling me two or three-tenths of a second slower than me, so I got excited.”

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was eventually confirmed to start second ahead of teammate Mark Webber, while McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg of Williams rounded out the top five.

Ferrari said Massa was airlifted to a hospital in “stable condition” after a high-speed crash that occurred after a car piece from Brawn GP’s Rubens Barrichello hit him on the helmet. The 28-year-old Brazilian driver was conscious and moving his arms before being evacuated.

A spring flew up and struck Massa on the helmet, apparently dazing him as the Ferrari continued straight through a curb, across the track and through the gravel area alongside the circuit, before slamming into a row of protective tires that line the circuit wall.

Massa appeared to regain control of the car just before the crash at turn No. 4 as his front brakes were locked upon the violent impact. It was unclear whether he required assistance in getting out before he was taken away on a stretcher.

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