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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Massa on pole, Hamilton fourth in Brazil

Felipe Massa put himself in the best position possible to capitalize on his slim chances at the championship, taking pole for his home race in Brazil.

The best points leader Lewis Hamilton could do was fourth.

“It will be a tough afternoon but I'm comfortable with the fuel strategy we chose; the guys in front are probably on a different strategy,” said. Hamilton. “But we're in a good position to finish in the same place as we are today - and that's got to be our aim. We don't need to do anything spectacular.”

Massa set a time of 1:12.368, besting Hamilton’s time by close to half a second.

“We have 71 laps tomorrow which is pretty long but it is always better to start at the front.” Massa said. “I think we have a good car and we proved Friday and this morning that our car is very competitive around here and we showed it also in qualifying, especially in Q3, so it is always a good start to be in front.”

Jarno Trulli’s Toyota in second, and Massa’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen in third, sit between Hamilton and his rival.

Trulli’s performance was the surprise of the weekend so far, giving Toyota it’s best qualifying in years.

“Even before coming here I knew that this was one of those tracks, technical and difficult, where I could be very strong and my car could be very competitive, so I have been preparing for this grand prix and have been waiting for it and now here I am,” said Trulli. “I am really, really happy for the Toyota team and for everybody, as it just shows the progress the team has made during this season.”

For Massa to have a chance at the title, he must finish first or second, but all Hamilton needs to do is finish fifth to sew it up.

Massa made an early statement, easily topping the first session. Hamilton topped Q2, but couldn’t best Massa when it counted in Q3.

“Congratulations to Felipe for achieving pole position in front of his home crowd - he did a great job today,” said Hamilton.

Heikki Kovalainen is fifth in the second McLaren. The Woking outfit will have some work cut out for it if the team is to overhaul Ferrari in the constructor’s race.

Massa supporter Fernando Alonso is in sixth, so Hamilton will want to get off to a good start.

Sebastian Vettel picked up seventh in his last race for Toro Rosso. The man he will replace, the retiring David Coulthard, starts 14th for Red Bull.

Home favorite Rubens Barrichello, his future uncertain, is 15th in the Honda.

But all eyes will be on a new favorite son, as Felipe Massa tries to snatch the championship from the clutches of Hamilton and join the ranks of Brazil’s F1 elite.

“It is so nice to be here and making the third pole position in a row in Brazil in front of these fantastic people which have 100 per cent emotion about motor racing and that’s great for us,” Massa gushed. “To come here and see that we have so many people who love what we are doing. I think it is difficult to describe in a single word our feeling especially my feeling being Brazilian in front of my people but also racing for a fantastic team which is very emotional as well and which is working very hard. I have a fantastic family and fantastic friends around me and I think that is really a dream come true.”

A season full of questions will be answered in just a few short hours. The lights go out on the final race of the 2008 campaign at 15:00 local time.

The Grid:
  1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari
  2. Jarno Trulli, Toyota
  3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
  4. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
  5. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
  6. Fernando Alonso, Renault
  7. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso
  8. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
  9. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso
  10. Timo Glock, Toyota
  11. Nelson Piquet, Renault
  12. Mark Webber, Red Bull
  13. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
  14. David Coulthard, Red Bull
  15. Rubens Barrichello, Honda
  16. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
  17. Jenson Button, Honda
  18. Nico Rosberg, Williams
  19. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
  20. Adrian Sutil, Force India
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