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Massa pips Alonso for Spanish pole 12 May 2007

Pole sitter Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2007 waves to the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 12 May 2007 Pole sitter Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 12 May 2007 Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 waves to the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 12 May 2007 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.07.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 12 May 2007 David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing RB3.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2007

McLaren were expecting a drubbing from Ferrari in qualifying, but in the end Felipe Massa took pole position by just three-hundredths of a second from world champion Fernando Alonso in a dramatic conclusion to the final session.

Earlier on Alonso had beaten the two Ferraris with a lap of 1m 21.661s to Massa’s 1m 21.163s and Kimi Raikkonen’s 1m 22.084s. But on their final runs, when all but the Renault drivers chose Bridgestone’s medium (softer) tyre compound, Massa’s 1m 21.421s proved just beyond Alonso’s 1m 21.451s reach.

Behind them, Raikkonen edged Lewis Hamilton for third with 1m 21.723s to the Englishman’s 1m 21.785s.

The leading quartet ultimately outran the BMW Saubers, which had looked fast all through practice and qualifying. Robert Kubica managed the fifth-fastest time of 1m 22.253s, but Nick Heidfeld was separated from his team mate by Jarno Trulli in the sole Toyota to get beyond Q1. The German lapped in 1m 22.389s compared to the Italian’s 1m 22.324s.

Behind them, the Renaults sandwiched David Coulthard’s Red Bull. As the Scot made full use of his revamped car to lap in 1m 22.749s, Heikki Kovalainen out-qualified team mate Giancarlo Fisichella, with 1m 22.568s to 1m 22.881s.

The second session weeded out Williams’ Nico Rosberg (1m 21.968s), Honda’s Rubens Barrichello (1m 22.097s), Super Aguri’s Takuma Sato (1m 22.115s), Jenson Button (1m 22.120s) in the second Honda, Anthony Davidson (1m 22.293s) in the corresponding Super Aguri and Tonio Liuzzi (1m 22.508s) for Toro Rosso.

The two works Hondas were reliable but not fast enough, while Sato’s Super Aguri stopped out on the track with fuel pick-up problems and Davidson spun his. Toro Rosso did not send Liuzzi out after he had made it through Q1 before being hit by gearbox problems.

In that session the fallers were Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher (1m 22.666s), Williams’ Alex Wurz (1m 22.769s), Mark Webber (who had hydraulic problems with his Red Bull after an initial lap of 1m 23.398s), Adrian Sutil (1m 23.811s) and Christijan Albers (1m 23.990s) in the Spykers and Scott Speed, who did not do a flying lap after the same transmission issue that would later halt Liuzzi stopped his Toro Rosso.

“When you look how was things after Q1 and Q2,” Massa said, “the idea is that everybody is very, very close. Ferrari and McLaren have a similar pace and this was the most real idea of our performances that we saw today.”

In other words, tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix is going to be a very tough battle between the leading quartet, while BMW Sauber will be a threat if either of the leading teams stumble.