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Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Saturday, 23 August 2008 14:10 UK
European Grand Prix
Valencia, Spain, 22-24 August 2008

Felipe Massa takes pole in Valencia
Massa took his first pole since Monaco at the end of May

Ferrari's Felipe Massa claimed pole position for Sunday's European Grand Prix as Valencia's street circuit made its debut on the Formula One calendar.

The Brazilian clocked one minute 38.989 seconds to take the top grid position from McLaren's championship leader Lewis Hamilton by 0.210 seconds.

BMW'S Robert Kubica was third, just ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

There was disappointment for the home crowd as Renault's Fernando Alonso was 12th - his worst placing of the season.

McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen, who won the last Grand Prix in Hungary, will share the third row alongside Toro Rosso's Sebastien Vettel.

Jarno Trulli for Toyota, BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld, Williams driver Nico Rosberg and Sebastien Bourdais in the second Toro Rosso rounded out the top 10.

With the drivers unfamiliar with the Valencia circuit, it was a topsy-turvy qualifying session with Trulli and Vettel topping the timesheets in the first and second runs respectively.

Ferrari will be hard to beat but we will push hard

Lewis Hamilton

McLaren and Ferrari found their true pace when it counted as the last minutes of qualifying ticked down.

First Hamilton set a provisional pole of 1:39.199 only to be denied seconds later by Massa, who grabbed his fourth pole of the season and the 13th of his career.

"To take pole for the first time here is very nice," said the 27-year-old Brazilian.

"The surface is a little bit slippery and to make the perfect lap is very difficult. A big, big shower yesterday didn't help the grip.

"But it's a nice track and let's hope we can have a good race. We will do our best."

A blown engine three laps from home denied Massa victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix but the Brazilian believes his car is in good shape to deliver in Spain.

"Unfortunately sometimes these things can happen," Massa added.

"We have a great car and showed that in the last race. But we will show again that we are competitive."

There were a few wobbly moments for Hamilton as he struggled to turn his pace through the first sectors into a complete lap in qualifying.

But the Englishman, who leads the championship by five points, is confident there is still more to come to challenge Ferrari.

"It was quite straightforward for me," said Hamilton.


"The last lap was pretty good but there is always time somewhere. Ferrari will be hard to beat but we will push hard."

Toro Rosso continued to impress as they once again out-stripped their sister team Red Bull and for the first time this season got both of their drivers into the top 10 grid places.

Vettel, who will join Red Bull next season, starts in sixth with Sebastien Bourdais in 10th while Red Bull's Mark Webber is 14th with team-mate David Coulthard three places further back.

Webber said afterwards: "We know both Sebastiens are driving well and we know they have a stronger engine than us but probably not by the margin they are ahead of us.

"We need to do a better job."

It was also a desperately disappointing day for Jenson Button, who was eliminated in the first round of qualifying despite a competitive showing for Honda.

"I thought I'd be in qualifying three here and I'm massively disappointed," Button commented.

Grid positions for the European Grand Prix:

1. Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 1 min 38.989 secs

2. Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes 1:39.199

3. Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber 1:39.392

4. Kimi Raikkonen (Finn) Ferrari 1:39.488

5. Heikki Kovalainen (Finn) McLaren-Mercedes 1:39.937

6. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:40.142

7. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 1:40.309

8. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber 1:40.631

9. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Toyota 1:40.721

10. Sebastien Bourdais (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:40.750

11. Kazuki Nakajima (Jpn) Williams-Toyota 1:38.428

12. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault 1:38.435

13. Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota 1:38.499

14. Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 1:38.515

15. Nelson Piquet (Brz) Renault 1:38.744

16. Jenson Button (GB) Honda 1:38.880

17. David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull-Renault 1:39.235

18. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Force India-Ferrari 1:39.268

19. Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda 1:39.811

20. Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India-Ferrari 1:39.943

see also
Euro GP qualifying as it happened
23 Aug 08 |  Formula One
Raikkonen leaves Hamilton behind
22 Aug 08 |  Formula One
Consistency is key, says Hamilton
20 Aug 08 |  Formula One

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