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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Massa snatches pole in Singapore

Felipe Massa put in a stunning lap to take pole from Lewis Hamilton and set up a front-row showdown between the title leaders at the Singapore Grand Prix.

“It was just a great feeling,” said Massa. “When you get the best from the car it is one of the most incredible feelings you can have as a racing driver, so when you achieve what you want it is always a great achievement.”

After almost missing the cut in Q2, Hamilton was more than happy to be on the front row.

“I managed to secure a good spot on the front row but obviously not as smooth sailing as some other people,” Hamilton said. “But nevertheless we’ve been very competitive all weekend, so I think I am in a good position for the race tomorrow.”

Kimi Raikkonen was third in the second Ferrari, and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica took fourth.

McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen will be joined in the third row by STR’s Sebastian Vettel after Nick Heidfeld was penalised for blocking Honda's Rubens Barrichello in Q1.

Timo Glock and the Williams pair round out the top 10. For Williams, it marked the first time this season both cars made the shootout.

What had looked like a promising weekend for Renault went south in Q2 when Fernando Alonso slowed to a halt. The obviously crushed double world champion was left in 15th, just one position above his teammate, who again couldn’t get out of Q1.

Still, the Spaniard fared better than Giancarlo Fisichella, who, after crashing in the morning practice, crashed again in Q1 without completing a lap.

Hamilton and Massa are separated by just a point, their teams, bitter rivals, separated by just five, and four races remain in the season. This race, on the other side of the world and the first ever run under lights, is a challenge both are eager to tackle.

“Yeah, tonight it is kind of crazy. It is 11.15 hrs at night right now and I’ve never been driving at this time before but for us it’s the afternoon,” said Hamilton. “As Felipe said we have been walking the track at 3 a.m. in the morning, going to bed at five or six, and waking up late in the day, so it quite unique but driving the circuit is fantastic. I think they have done an amazing job in building the circuit and the facilities. It is really a great place to be.”

Massa, too, spoke of the magnitude of the occasion.

“I am sure it will be a very important race for Formula One. I think the people at home knowing it is the first Formula One night race are already very interested wherever they are,” he said. “If they are in Brazil to wake up to the race, if they are in Europe to make sure after lunch to go home to see the race, if they are here to go to the track. I think it is a very interesting thing and it will be a very important race in the calendar, so I am looking forward to doing a good job tomorrow. If we can win the race it will be an even more fantastic feeling than winning the qualifying.”

The action kicks off 10pm local time Sunday.

The grid:
  1. Massa, Ferrari, 1:44.801
  2. Hamilton, McLaren, 1:45.465
  3. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:45.617
  4. Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:45.779
  5. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:45.873
  6. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:46.244
  7. Glock, Toyota, 1:46.328
  8. Rosberg, Williams, 1:46.611
  9. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:45.964 *
  10. Nakajima, Williams, 1:47.547
  11. Trulli, Toyota, 1:45.038
  12. Button, Honda, 1:45.133
  13. Webber, Red Bull, 1:45.212
  14. Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:45.298
  15. Alonso, Renault, 1:44.971
  16. Piquet, Renault, 1:46.037
  17. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:46.389
  18. Barrichello, Honda, 1:46.583
  19. Sutil, Force India, 1:47.940
  20. Fisichella, Force India, no time
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