Massa storms to Singapore GP pole
|By Matt Beer
||Saturday, September 27th 2008, 15:01 GMT
Felipe Massa took pole for Formula One's first ever night race by a huge margin after a dominant performance in qualifying at Singapore.
The Ferrari driver already held provisional pole after his first run in Q3, but briefly lost the place to title rival Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) in the closing seconds.
However even as Hamilton crossed the line, Massa was already on course to comfortably beat his lap, setting new benchmarks in all three sectors as he lapped in 1:44.801 to take pole by 0.664 seconds.
Kimi Raikkonen took third in the second Ferrari, and like Hamilton the Finn survived some early scares to reach Q3, having been pushed down into the elimination zone in Q1 being leaping up to first place in the dying seconds. Hamilton only just hung on in Q2 as a scruffy lap left him on the bubble in 10th at the end of the segment.
Robert Kubica claimed fourth for BMW, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen in the second McLaren, with BMW's Nick Heidfeld completing the top six.
Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel followed up his Monza win with a competitive seventh place, alongside Toyota's Timo Glock.
Williams showed resurgent form to get both cars into Q3 for the first time all year. Nico Rosberg will start ninth, with teammate Kazuki Nakajima in a career-best 10th.
There was massive disappointment for practice pace-setter Fernando Alonso, who had gone into qualifying as an outside contender for the front row following his rapid times so far this weekend. But the Spaniard will start 15th after his Renault cut out with a fuel feed problem before he could set a time in Q2, leaving Alonso visibly devastated as he climbed out of the stricken car.
His teammate Nelson Piquet will join Alonso on row eight, having failed to progress beyond Q1 despite being fourth-fastest earlier today.
Jenson Button maintained his strong practice form to get a Honda into Q2 for the first time since Hungary, with the Briton taking 12th on the grid, next to Jarno Trulli in the second Toyota, while his teammate Rubens Barrichello only managed 18th.
Neither Red Bull Racing driver reached Q3, as Mark Webber and David Coulthard both failed to gain time on their final Q2 runs and were pushed down from the lower top ten places to 13th and 14th
Force India worked hard to repair Giancarlo Fisichella's car after his heavy crash in final practice, only for the Italian to hit the wall again when he finally made it out in the closing minutes of Q1.
This time Fisichella only damaged his front wing when he slid into the Turn 3 barriers, but it was sufficient to end his session and leave him last on the grid, alongside teammate Adrian Sutil.
There was also more frustration for Sebastien Bourdais, who finds himself 10 places behind his Toro Rosso teammate Vettel in 17th on the grid after encountering dire handling problems in Q1. The Frenchman suspected technical problems having lapped 1.3 seconds slower than Vettel in the first segment.
Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1. Massa Ferrari 1:44.519 1:44.014 1:44.801 16
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:44.501 1:44.932 1:45.465 14
3. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:44.282 1:44.232 1:45.617 16
4. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:44.740 1:44.519 1:45.779 18
5. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:44.311 1:44.207 1:45.873 19
6. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:45.548 1:44.520 1:45.964 19
7. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:45.042 1:44.261 1:46.244 15
8. Glock Toyota 1:45.184 1:44.441 1:46.328 21
9. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:45.103 1:44.429 1:46.611 17
10. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:45.127 1:44.826 1:47.547 20
11. Trulli Toyota 1:45.642 1:45.038 12
12. Button Honda 1:45.660 1:45.133 14
13. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:45.493 1:45.212 12
14. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:46.028 1:45.298 16
15. Alonso Renault 1:44.971 6
16. Piquet Renault 1:46.037 6
17. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:46.389 6
18. Barrichello Honda 1:46.583 7
19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:47.940 10
20. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari No time 2
All timing unofficial