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Saturday, May 10, 2008

3 for 4: Massa on pole in Turkey

Felipe Massa continued his mastery of Turkey, taking his third pole in four years Saturday.

“For sure, I think I put together a very good lap. I couldn’t put together a good lap in Q2. I was a bit on the traffic and I was disturbed a little bit. But then in Q3 I managed to warm up the tyres in the right direction and also not be behind somebody,” said Massa. “I even passed Fernando Alonso on the out lap just to be sure that I could have got a clean lap. I have to say I put two very good laps together. On the first lap it was a very good try and on the second lap I just improved a little bit, but it was enough to be on pole. I am just so happy coming the third time here and for the third time being on pole position. It would be fantastic to repeat that tomorrow.”

It wasn’t all Ferrari, however, as Heikki Kovalainen will start next to the Brazilian. Kovalainen’s second was yet another feather the Finn's cap following his crash in Spain, and he was obviously pleased.

“It has been a roller-coaster the last couple of weeks. Obviously I had a big accident in Spain, but I was very lucky to survive without any injuries and my recovery has been fantastic. I have got to say many thanks to the medical people in Spain and then when I got back to Finland I did some medical check-ups there and I did some training as well,” Kovalainen said. “Coming here I knew that I would pass the medical because I felt 100 per cent. This week already yesterday I felt very happy with my car and I have been feeling confident all the time. The second lap in Q3 was nice and clean, so it is a pleasure to start from the front row and we should have a god race tomorrow.”

Cool, overcast conditions graced the circuit as Giancarlo Fisichella started proceedings. The Italian couldn’t improve his position and will be starting from the back of the grid following Friday’s three-place penalty for running the red light in the pitlane.

Adrian Sutil, Sebestien Bourdais, Nelson Piquet and Kaz Nakajima were the other losers at the close of the first session, the rule change to qualiying meaning only five cars would be eliminated. Williams and Renault must be less than pleased with the early exits for Piquet and Nakajima.

Ferrari, McLaren and BMW Sauber were all on the pace going into Q2, and the teams would continue to swap fast times between them.

Meanwhile, David Coulthard continued to shine, repeating some of the performance which he revealed in Friday’s second practice session. Given the Scot’s woeful qualifying as of late, it must have been a relief to many in the Red Bull camp – especially DC.

The close of Q2 found Nico Rosberg, Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Timo Glock on the outside looking in. Disappointing especially for Glock, who had shown speed in the previous session.

The final session saw both Massa and Kovalainen take Hamilton in the closing moments when the Briton chose the harder of the tire options. Hamilton will have to take solace in the fact that he placed above Raikkonen, but it was obvious he was not happy.

“It was a tough qualifying session for me. Obviously at the beginning I had a fantastic lap in Q1,” Hamilton said. “ In Q2 I struggled a little bit on the option tyre and therefore I opted for the prime tyre as I thought perhaps it would be a more consistent tyre especially through the lap. I guess I made the wrong decision.”

Robert Kubica was fifth, but the BMW Sauber looks like it might have a tough time holding onto the silvers and reds tomorrow. Mark Webber qualified an encouraging sixth, as Red Bull put both cars in the top 10 with Coulthard slotting in in tenth.

Fernando Alonso, Jarno Trulli and Nick Heidfeld took seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.

Clear, breezy and cool is predicted tomorrow for the race at Istanbul Park as Massa tries to extend his streak.

“I am looking forward to tomorrow definitely to try and have the best race possible,” he said. “For sure it won’t be easy as we know our competitors are quite strong and quite close and the race will be not so easy, so let’s try to do everything right and also put all the tyres on at the right moment and use the car in the right direction as well.”
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