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Championship leader Alonso takes pole at rain-hit Silverstone

Fernando Alonso (right) celebrates his pole at Silverstone with third-fastest Michael Schumacher

Story highlights

  • Fernando Alonso takes pole for British Grand Prix at Silverstone
  • Alonso edges out Mark Webber of Red Bull in rain-hit qualifying
  • Session delayed by nearly two hours after heavy shower hits circuit
  • Michael Schumacher takes a fine third in his Mercedes

Championship leader Fernando Alonso took pole position for the British Grand Prix after a rain delayed final qualifying session Saturday.

The Silverstone track in central England was hit by a deluge during the second part of qualifying and the session was held up for nearly two hours.

When the action resumed, Ferrari's Alonso showed his undoubted class with a one minute 51.746 seconds clocking, edging out Red Bull's Mark Webber for first place on the grid.

Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher reveled in the conditions in his Mercedes and took third fastest ahead of reigning double champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany in his Red Bull.

It will be Spaniard Alonso's first pole since the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix, but he took his home race in Valencia a fortnight ago to become the first man to achieve two wins in an unpredictable season.

"It was not easy. To complete a lap with no huge mistakes is not easy in these conditions," he told the official press conference.

"I'm happy to be on pole after nearly two years. In these conditions the qualifying is probably the least important of the year but obviously for visibility it is always better to be on pole."

His teammate Felipe Massa also backed him up with an improved performance to take a competitive fifth, his best in qualifying this season.

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Massa has faced questions about his future with the team after only gaining 11 points to date in 2012, but the Brazilian has told CNN that he is confident he will get a new deal with Ferrari.

"It's not the first time this thing happened to me at the end of the contract and we renew it," he said.

"Personally I didn't have the start to the season I wanted but I'm much stronger now, much better now, and I'm sure we can be competitive race-by-race now until the end of the year," he added.

Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen was sixth for Lotus-Renault with young Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado in seventh for Williams-Renault.

Home hope Lewis Hamilton was fastest in his McLaren after Q2, but struggled to find grip when it really mattered and was a frustrated eighth fastest.

His teammate Jenson Button also endured another miserable afternoon and failed to make the cut for Q2, ending only 18th best.