Massa puts Ferrari on pole in Malaysia

Brazilian Felipe Massa secured pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix on an all-Ferrari front row on Saturday.

Driving in hot and humid conditions under heavy cloud cover, Massa was joined at the head of the field by Formula One world champion team mate Kimi Raikkonen, who lapped 0,482 seconds slower than the pole sitter’s time of 1,35.748.

The McLarens of Hekki Kovalainen and championship leader Lewis Hamilton will make up the second row, ahead of Italy’s Jarno Trulli for Toyota and Poland’s Robert Kubica in a BMW Sauber.

The Ferraris have been in imperious form all weekend after suffering a disappointing season opener in Australia, where neither car finished the race, and their front-row sweep is the team’s first since last September’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Massa, who also started from pole in last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix but finished fifth, was delighted with the performance of his car.

”Our championship starts now because what happened in the last race was incredible,” Massa told reporters.

”We did not expect that but we did a very good job during the week and hopefully we can put everything together now to have a quick and consistent championship.”

Massa added that he was not worried by the threat of rain throughout the session and the prospect of downpours on Sunday.

”You just need to start the session straight away so if it starts raining you have put a lap on paper,” he added. ”Everybody did the same so if the rain comes you at least have a lap.

”We had a couple of drops of rain towards the end but it did not effect the performance of the car.”

Hamilton hopeful

Raikkonen was disappointed with his final qualifying session after setting the fastest time of the weekend in the second session.

”I was not too happy with the last section of qualifying,” said the Finn. ”I just could not get a good grip or the best out of the car. But second is a good place to start and we should have a strong race.

”It’s going to be a long, hot race tomorrow [Sunday] and we are not sure about the weather but looking forward, we are quite happy.”

Hamilton, winner in Melbourne but outqualified by his new Finnish teammate for the first time, took consolation in last year’s race where the McLarens finished one-two despite being pipped to pole by Massa.

”We changed some things today and I’m not really sure whether it was the right way to go or not but we’ll see tomorrow,” said the 23-year-old Briton.

”I wouldn’t say we were on the back foot but for sure they have got a very quick car,” he added of the Ferraris’ pace.

”But they did last year and we took them at the first corner so we’ve got to remain positive. We’ve got to get good points and I think we can still do that.” Last year’s race winner Fernando Alonso, Spain’s double world champion who has returned to Renault after a difficult year alongside Hamilton at McLaren, qualified ninth after failing to make the top 10 in Australia. – Reuters

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