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Alonso confident after qualifying third fastest

Written by: Staff

MELBOURNE, Apr 1 (Reuters) World champion Fernando Alonso was brimming with confidence about his prospects of winning tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix after setting the third fastest time in qualifying.

The Spaniard, the youngest world champion in history, was briefly held up by traffic on his last flying lap on Saturday but still managed to book his place on the second row of the grid.

Britain's Jenson Button grabbed pole in his Honda while Alonso's Renault team mate, Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, was second fastest.

''I am pleased to be third because this is my best qualifying position so far this year,'' Alonso told reporters.

''Even so, we still didn't achieve our maximum this afternoon because I had (Nick) Heidfeld's BMW in front of me during my quick lap and he made a mistake on turn 13.

''That meant I caught him very quickly and lost about half a second in the last two corners.'' Alonso won the season-opening race in Bahrain after qualifying fourth then finished second behind Fisichella in Malaysia after qualifying eighth.

The 24-year-old already holds a seven-point lead in the championship after two rounds and said he was confident of another strong showing in Melbourne.

''The car felt very good though and I pleased with the consistent handling balance,'' he said.

''In race conditions I am confident we will be extremely competitive.'' REUTERS PM RS1141

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