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Massa beats Hamilton for Valencia pole

August 23, 2008 19:12 IST
Last Updated: August 23, 2008 20:43 IST

Ferrari's [Images] Felipe Massa [Images] put his Hungarian nightmare behind him on Saturday by beating title rival Lewis Hamilton [Images] to pole position at the European Grand Prix in Valencia.

The 27-year-old Brazilian mastered Formula One's newest street circuit with a lap of 1:38.989 seconds to chalk up his fourth pole of the season and 13th of his career.

His performance, in the dying seconds of an unpredictable qualifying session, pushed McLaren's championship leader Hamilton off the top spot and into second place.

Massa might have been leading the championship but is instead third, eight points behind Hamilton, after an engine failure forced him to retire from the Hungarian Grand Prix while heading for victory.

"It is always nice to be on top, but especially nice after a bad result like that and especially after the way that it happened," said the Brazilian.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa"There were only three laps to go and I had the race in my pocket.

"So, after such a race, it is nice to be here and have that feeling to be back on top again...I did a great first sector and it was perfect so I knew I could take pole and the team did a really great job," he said.

"It is nice to put that last race behind me now."

World champion team mate Kimi Raikkonen [Images], five points adrift of Hamilton, qualified in fourth place behind Poland's Robert Kubica in a BMW [Images] Sauber.


The temporary grandstands around the Mediterranean harbour were packed for the session while thousands more ticketless spectators watched from balconies, roofs and boats as the cars made the most of cooler conditions after heavy overnight rain.

Hamilton, hoping to win for the third time in four races to increase his overall lead, said he is happy to be on the front row because it gave him a chance to fight for a victory in Sunday's 57-lap race.

"To be on the front row is good, the team did a great job and I am happy," he said.

"When I saw Felipe's lap and his first sector time I knew he had killed the rest of us for pole, so I am happy to be up the front.

"I know they [Ferrari] are going to be very hard to beat tomorrow [Sunday], but we are going to do our best and I think we have a very competitive package to do so."

Kubica was also happy to have extracted the maximum possible from his car but suggested that he would need to be careful to remain competitive in the race.

"I found it quite slippery out there, so maybe we have to look very carefully at our tyres," he said.

The session proved to be a disappointment for the Spanish fans, with their double world champion Fernando Alonso [Images] unable to qualify his Renault better than 12th after struggling in the second session.

Hamilton's Finnish team-mate Heikki Kovalainen [Images] was fifth, German Sebastian Vettel sixth for Toro Rosso, Italian Jarno Trulli seventh for Toyota and German Nick Heidfeld [Images] eighth for BMW Sauber.

All four will prove major obstacles to an Alonso surge, as will ninth placed German Nico Rosberg in his Williams and Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais in the second Toro Rosso.

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Formula One: The Complete Coverage

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