Rubens Barrichello admitted to being a touch disappointed after narrowly failing to secure his first Formula 1 pole position in almost five years in qualifying for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona - having looked like the man to beat for much of the session.

The veteran Brazilian has generally had the legs of world championship-leading Brawn GP team-mate Jenson Button from the word 'go' around the Circuit de Catalunya - showing the Briton the way both in pre-season winter testing and also in the first European meeting of the 2009 campaign.

The S?o Paulista duly out-performed the sister car in both Q1 and Q2, in the latter - widely regarded as the first real test of the weekend of true out-and-out pace - leading the way outright as the only driver to dip beneath the 1m20s barrier all weekend, an encouraging omen for race day at the very least.

In Q3, though, he fell short, grabbing pole position in the closing moments only to be subsequently demoted by Red Bull Racing star Sebastian Vettel and then Button, who produced a sublime lap right at the close, just over two tenths of a second faster than his more heavily-fuelled team-mate - and meaning Barrichello's 78-race stretch without starting from pole goes on.

"We have had a really good weekend so far here in Spain," he reflected, at 36 now the oldest driver in the field, "and I'm happy to be starting from third position on the grid tomorrow. Of course it is a little disappointing not to be on pole after a great Q2, however my final lap in Q3 was good.

"We may have gone out slightly too early for the final run and missed an opportunity there. However, I'm happy with our strategy and we are well-placed for the race. We will need to get off the line cleanly and stay ahead of the Ferrari (KERS-equipped Felipe Massa) down to the first corner to make the most of our potential."

"Another great job from Rubens to secure third place," enthused the Brackley-based outfit's team principal Ross Brawn. "Rubens was very quick in the first two sessions on low fuel today, with Jenson having the edge on the heavier fuel loads in Q3. Today's result puts us in a good position and we look forward to a very exciting race."

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