Massa edges Hamilton, takes pole in Brazilian GP

Updated: 21 October 2007 17:05 IST

Ferrari's Felipe Massa took the pole position on Saturday for the decisive Brazilian GP, with Hamilton beside him.

Massa edges Hamilton, takes pole in Brazilian GP

Sao Paulo, Brazil:

Ferrari's Felipe Massa took the pole position on Saturday for the decisive Brazilian GP, with Hamilton beside him and in a commanding position to become F1's first rookie champion.

Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso - Hamilton's rivals for the title - will start in the second row, with Raikkonen third and Alonso fourth.

"Tomorrow I think we sit in good position," Hamilton said. "It's a good place for us to start."

Massa, last year's winner in Brazil, drove his Ferrari around the 4.3-kilometer anti-clockwise Interlagos track in 1 minute, 11.931 seconds.

The Brazilian was .151 faster than Hamilton and .391 faster than Ferrari teammate Raikkonen. Alonso, Hamilton's McLaren teammate, timed 1:12.356.

"This is sensational," Massa said. "And hopefully the guys behind me will have a good fight. It will be very nice for these (fans) to watch a good race. Hopefully I can go for the victory."

Sunday's Brazilian GP will decide the tightest F1 race for the championship in 21 years. Hamilton has 107 points, four more than Alonso and seven more than Raikkonen. A win is worth 10 points and second through eighth are 8-6-5-4-3-2-1.

A top-two finish for Hamilton will guarantee he wins the title, becoming the first British F1 champion since Damon Hill in 1996. He would be the youngest champion since Alonso's feat as a 24-year-old in 2005.

"I am quite confident and relaxed for tomorrow and I know what I have to do to win the championship," Hamilton said. "My focus is not on winning the race, but the title."

Front-row starters

Fifteen of the last 16 winners have started in the front row this season. In Interlagos, front-row starters have won every race since 2004.

It was warm and sunny for qualifying on Saturday, in conditions similar to those expected for Sunday's race.

All three title contenders easily made it through the first two elimination sessions but Massa came out strong in the final part of the time trials, with the Brazilian clinching the pole to the delight of the fans that packed the Interlagos grandstands.

Raikkonen lost time while trying to make a pass over Hamilton in the middle of his last quick lap, and said he expected it was going to be "much easier" to make the pass.

Hamilton said he didn't intentionally get in Raikkonen's way.

"I realized he was very, very close so I slowed down," Hamilton said. "I backed out and he went past me."

Massa, who won four races in the previous five times he started from the pole, had also been fastest in Saturday's last practice before qualifying, also edging Hamilton, Raikkonen and Alonso.

Alonso is the only driver using an older engine because of his crash at the Japanese GP three weeks ago. Drivers must use the same engine in two consecutive races, and Alonso had a new one in China and is using it again now.

The two-time defending champion was not giving up on this year's title yet.



Topics : Formula 1 Felipe Massa
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