Raikkonen heads Ferrari front-row

Raikkonen Magny CoursKimi Raikkonen heads an all-scarlet front row for Sunday’s French Grand Prix after pipping team-mate Felipe Massa to pole position in qualifying, while BMW Sauber struggled to produce the pace that saw them canter to victory in Canada.

Raikkonen stormed to his second pole position of the season and the sixteenth of his career in Magny-Cours after out-racing team-mate Massa to the top spot by a scant four hundredths of a second.

Lewis Hamilton managed to hustle his McLaren into P3 behind the Ferrari drivers and will start thirteenth as a result of his ten-place grid penalty.

Any chance of his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen interfering with Ferrari’s race strategy were dashed by a mistake from the Finn on his final flying lap which dropped him to sixth place behind home favourite Fernando Alonso and an impressively quick Jarno Trulli.

But it was BMW Sauber who were the biggest losers of the session. Fresh from their dominant 1-2 victory in the Canadian Grand Prix, both Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld struggled with the handling of the F1.08 around the Circuit de Nevers, the duo ending up a disappointing seventh and twelfth respectively.

Heidfeld scraped into Q2 by the skin of his teeth after a do-or-die lap in the dying seconds of the opening knock-out session saved BMW Sauber from a humiliating result and saw the German vaunt up to P12. But the 31-year-old’s sixth row starting slot will do little to lift the hearts of the Hinwil and Munich based outfit who had high hopes following their Canadian triumph.

Mark Webber underlined his morning pace after hustling his Red Bull into P8 ahead of team-mate David Coulthard who likewise was attacking every inch of the Circuit de Nevers.

Timo Glock, buoyed by his first points of the season in Canada ensured a two-car presence in the top for Toyota after qualifying within touching distance of the Red Bull Racing pairing.

Morning pace-setter Nelson Piquet showed signs of improvement with P11 ahead of Nick Heidfeld. But the Brazilian still languished several rows behind his team-mate.

Sebastian Vettel, who has been running strongly all weekend, was another driver who failed to deliver on his pre-qualifying promise, the German youngster lining up in P13 ahead of his team-mate and home favourite Sebastien Bourdais.

Nico Rosberg scraped into Q2 but was unable find anything extra once the second knock-out session began. He starts the race from fifteenth.

At the rear, the Hondas and Force Indias were locked in a fierce battle to avoid the Q3 chop, but both teams failed to get their drivers into Q2; Button leading Barrichello from Fisichella and Sutil. Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima joined the Q3 causality list after just qualifying shy of his team-mate Nico Rosberg.