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Ferrari's Massa takes first pole in Turkey
Alan Baldwin | August 26, 2006 20:21 IST
Massa pipped team mate and seven times world champion Michael Schumacher by 0.377 seconds in qualifying at the Istanbul Park circuit to secure the fourth all-Ferrari front row of the year.
Renault's overall leader Fernando Alonso will start right behind the Ferrari pair in third place, alongside Italian team mate Giancarlo Fisichella.
The champion leads Schumacher by 10 points in the drivers' championship with five races remaining while Renault are just seven clear of Ferrari in a tight battle between the constructors'.
"I think we did the maximum we can for today," said the Spaniard, who has seen Schumacher whittle his lead down from 25 points over the last four races but remained optimistic for Sunday.
"I think the Ferrari and Bridgestone package was extremely quick for one timed lap and we were not able to be close enough.
"We believe more in our pace for the race."
Schumacher, who can expect Massa to let him through and then try to keep Alonso at bay given that the young Brazilian has no hope of the title, was less happy after twice running wide at the first turn.
"It didn't go exactly to plan," said the 37-year-old German, who said he had driven more cautiously after the errors on a track that was not kind to him last season. "I had a good car and for whatever reason I couldn't translate all of our performance.
"But we are on the first row so we shouldn't really complain. I'm not sure honestly that I could have made up the three tenths that Felipe made, he must have done a very good lap. But we are very well sorted."
Massa, who will be starting his 66th race on Sunday, enjoyed his breakthrough moment but recognised that he would have to be a team player rather than thinking seriously about a first grand prix victory.
"It is a fantastic moment for me, the first pole is always much more important than the others because the first time you are much more happy," said the 25-year-old.
"I will try to do the best I can, to do my race and also thinking about the championship," added Massa. "We are looking forward to fighting for the championship in whatever championship we are trying to win."
Ralf Schumacher, Michael's younger brother was fifth quickest for Toyota but loses 10 places due to an unscheduled engine change after Friday practice.
That left compatriot Nick Heidfeld, for BMW Sauber, and Honda's Jenson Button -- a first time winner at the last race in Hungary -- on the third row.
McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, last year's winner from pole position but still without a victory this season, starts seventh with Poland's Robert Kubica next to him in a BMW Sauber.
Raikkonen's Spanish team mate Pedro de la Rosa, second in Hungary two weeks ago, failed to make the final cut and will start a disappointing 11th.
"I think we had expected to be slightly higher up," said Raikkonen. "As we have seen before, anything is possible. The car is handling quite well and you never know what strategy the others are using."
Formula One: The Complete Coverage