Renault roared their way into pole position at the Shanghai circuit for today's Chinese Grand Prix, sweeping arch-rivals McLaren aside in the qualifying lap and setting the stage for an enthralling fight for the Formula One constructors' title. Alonso was crowned champion in Brazil last month, but there was a growing sense of anticipation in the stands ahead of what is shaping up to be an historic showdown between the Renault driver and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen for the constructors' honours. The Chinese Grand Prix will end the longest season in Formula One history, with 19 races, and organisers said 120,000 spectators were expected to watch the race. This is down on last year, though officials didn't rule out a last-minute rush for tickets. Formula One's youngest-ever champion, the 24-year-old Spaniard secured his sixth pole of the year with a clean, fast lap, while his Italian teammate Giancarlo Fisichella will line up beside him after an equally assured drive. 'It was a perfect lap, and I have been surprised at how good the car has been this weekend. The circuit has improved a lot and we have made a lot of changes as well to improve the handling,' Alonso said. Alonso was 'a bit surprised' to be on pole. 'We have been conservative in our developments for a lot of the season, but for these final races, we have been able to be aggressive and it is paying off. I am in a perfect position to fight for the win tomorrow,' he said. This will be the first time the two Renaults line up together on the front row since returning to the sport in 2002 as more than just an engine supplier. The French carmakers have won seven of the 18 races so far and are on 176 points, two points ahead of McLaren, who have won 10 - including the last six races. If both teams finish on equal points, McLaren will win as Raikkonen has one more win than Alonso. Raikkonen has won eight races but his season took a long time to take shape and it was only after the Spanish Grand Prix in May, when he came in first ahead of Alonso on the Spaniard's home turf, that he really started to emerge as a threat. Too little, too late, however. A win in Shanghai would make him the first driver to win eight races in a year without winning the title. A lot could hinge on the fact that Alonso and Fisichella have an engine specifically tuned for one race, after using their last ones for the mandatory two grands prix. Raikkonen must use the same one he had in Japan. Raikkonen said he knew before the qualifying lap that it would a struggle to get pole position but he was unfazed by his third placing. His Colombian teammate Juan Pablo Montoya came in fifth. 'I don't think we have anything to worry about. Our strategy should be strong and whilst the car was not perfect on the qualifying lap I'm confident that it will be as good as it has been throughout practice,' he said. Raikkonen is nothing if not resilient. Last weekend he came from 17th place to win in Japan. 'Both Juan Pablo and myself are in strong positions to get the results we need to win the constructors' championship,' he said. The Alonso-Raikkonen showdown has breathed fresh life into a season that had seen Formula One reach a low point in June at the Indianapolis Grand Prix when all seven Michelin teams withdrew after the formation lap for tyre-related safety reasons. BAR's Jenson Button, who will start his 100th grand prix searching for a first win, lines up alongside Raikkonen on the second row. Alongside Montoya on the third row will be Ferrari's seven-times world champion Schumacher, with Red Bull's David Coulthard and Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello, who won the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix last year. 'I will give it my best shot to try and get the best result possible in my last race at the wheel of a Ferrari,' said Barrichello, who is moving to BAR next season. 'Given what can happen in the race, I think we can expect to fight for points between fourth and sixth place,' said Schumacher. Despite Schumacher's dip in form and the mediocre performance of the Italian team, Ferrari are by far the most popular team in China. Promoters in China are worried that if Ferrari's poor showing continues and a Chinese Formula One driver doesn't emerge soon, that it might prove difficult to popularise the sport in China.