Massa storms to vital pole, Hamilton qualifies fourth in Brazil 01 Nov 2008
Lewis Hamilton is not on pole position for Sundays Brazilian Grand Prix. That honour, as expected, fell to fellow title contender Felipe Massa, who thus became the first man ever to set three consecutive poles at Interlagos. But Hamiltons demeanour after qualifying fourth behind Massa, Jarno Trulli and Kimi Raikkonen suggests that he is very confident in McLarens fuel strategy.
Massa and Hamilton were fast all the way through the first two sessions, but in the final one the Brazilian used a new set of tyres to record a lap of 1m 12.368s to settle the issue. Raikkonen was next up on 1m 12.825s until the last moment when Trulli bounced his Toyota between the two Ferraris with 1m 12.737s and pushed Hamilton, who had earlier lapped in 1m 12.830s, down to fourth. The gap between Massa and Hamilton, compared to the gaps between them in Q1 and Q2, suggest that the Englishman is planning to run longer in the first stint.
Behind them, Heikki Kovalainen lines up fifth on 1m 12.917s in the second McLaren, ahead of Fernando Alonso who lapped his Renault in 1m 12.967s.
Both Toro Rossos made it through to Q3, with Sebastian Vettel seventh on 1m 13.082s and Sebastien Bourdais ninth on 1m 14.105s. Between them is Nick Heidfeld, the sole BMW Sauber driver to make it through on 1m 13.297s, and Timo Glock completed the top 10 for Toyota in 1m 14.230s.
Q2 weeded out local hero Nelson Piquet, whose lap of 1m 12.137s in the Renault missed the cut by three-hundredths of a second. Mark Webber and David Coulthard were 12th and 14th respectively for Red Bull on 1m 12.289s and 1m 12.717s, the Scot of course facing his last race as a driver. An unhappy Robert Kubica was 13th for BMW Sauber on 1m 12.300s, and Rubens Barrichello was 15th for Honda on 1m 13.139s.
The Brazilians team mate Jenson Button was only 17th on 1m 12.810s, his Honda stopping out at Turn 14 at the end of Q1. Neither Williams made it through that first session, with Kazuki Nakajima showing Nico Rosberg the way, with 1m 12.800s to the Germans 1m 13.002s. They start 16th and 18th. At the back, Giancarlo Fisichella stayed ahead of Force India team mate Adrian Sutil, with 1m 13.426s to 1m 13.508s.
Thus the scene is set for a cracking end to a great season of Formula One racing. Massa is where he wanted to be, while for Hamilton everything depends on maintaining position and keeping it clean at the start.