Felipe Massa pips Lewis Hamilton to pole (2008 European Grand Prix qualifying)

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Felipe Massa won't have to worry about passing Lewis Hamilton this time

Felipe Massa took pole position for the first ever European Grand Prix in Valencia.

He will rejoin his battle with Lewis Hamilton from the Hungarian Grand Prix as the McLaren driver took second place on the grid.

Robert Kubica will start from third place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. But the star of the session was Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel, who was fastest in Q2 and will start sixth.

Part one

In the first part of qualifying and the track got quicker with every lap as the dirt and dust was lifted and fresh rubber went down.

Lewis Hamilton did one quick lap – a 1’38.464 – and sat on top of the times for much of the session until later on, when Felipe Massa knocked him off the top spot. The quickest time eventually went to Jarno Trulli, with a 1’37.948.

But the real battle was between the drivers at the bottom. Nelson Piquet Jnr and Nick Heidfeld found themselves in the drop zone and seemed to be briefly delayed by Timo Glock. But both drivers successfully made it into Q2.

Rubens Barrichello spent most of the session at the bottom of the times and only just managed to beat Adrian Sutil at the end. Giancarlo Fisichella who, like Sutil, was running the new seamless shift gearbox, beat Barrichello for 18th.

Jenson Button had been towards the sharp end for most of the session but fell into the drop zone in the dying moments by less than 0.1s, losing out to Piquet. David Coulthard joined him in the bottom five.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part one

16. Jenson Button 1’38.880
17. David Coulthard 1’39.235
18. Giancarlo Fisichella 1’39.268
19. Rubens Barrichello 1’39.811
20. Adrian Sutil 1’39.943

Part two

Sebastian Vettel was sensationally fastest of all in Q2

As the second part of qualifting began a few drops of rain fell and Ferrari and BMW got their drivers on track as quickly as possible. But the rain held off, and all the drivers got dry laps in.

Sebastian Vettel was fastest of the first batch of runners with a 1’37.842, less than a tenth of second faster than Jarno Trulli.

Where were the championship contenders? They seemed to be playing it cautious, not wishing to end their session in the barriers. Hamilton had a slight sideways moment but was still quick enough for third.

Few drivers found any improvement with their last laps and Vettel stayed on top as Massa made a late move up to second. Heidfeld managed third with his final effort but Raikkonen could do no better than eighth, four tenths of a second slower than his team mate.

Home favourite Fernando Alonso made an error on his final lap and ended the session 12th. With Mark Webber 14th ahead of Piquet there were no Renault-engined cars in the final ten.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part two

11. Kazuki Nakajima 1’38.428
12. Fernando Alonso 1’38.435
13. Timo Glock 1’38.499
14. Mark Webber 1’38.515
15. Nelson Piquet Jnr 1’38.744

Part three

Felipe Massa's 0.2s advantage in sector one gave him pole position

Along with the usual clutch of McLaren, Ferraris and BMWs both Toro Rossos made it into the final part of qualifying, joined by Jarno Trulli and Nico Rosberg.

On the first round of laps the Ferrari drivers were fastest, but Massa was half a second quicker than Raikkonen. Kubica took up third ahead of Hamilton.

But on the final round Hamilton found almost a second in improvement and moved to the top of the times. Massa had more in his pocket as well, however, and his 1’38.989 gave him pole posiiton.

The unquestioned star of the session was Sebastian Vettel, and only a late error left him as low as sixth. He was within 0.2s of Kovalainen, and six tenths faster than his team mate. With the possiblity of safety car interruptions and all kinds of incidents tomorrow, Vettel could have a very strong race.

Top ten drivers’ times for part three

1. Felipe Massa 1’38.989
2. Lewis Hamilton 1.39.199
3. Robert Kubica 1’39.392
4. Kimi Raikkonen 1’39.488
5. Heikki Kovalainen 1’39.937
6. Sebastian Vettel 1’40.140
7. Jarno Trulli 1’40.309
8. Nick Heidfeld 1’40.631
9. Nico Rosberg 1’40.721
10. Sebastien Bourdais 1’40.750

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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17 comments on “Felipe Massa pips Lewis Hamilton to pole (2008 European Grand Prix qualifying)”

  1. not sure why Kimi was on the hards on the last run, had to cost him a couple tenths.

    Killer run by Vettal though!

  2. Keith, you appear to have called the previous GP the “Hungarorian” Grand Prix. Not being mean or anything, just notifying you. ;)

    I wish they televised F1 earlier in Australia…

  3. Hi,

    does anybody knows which side will Massa start? Watching at the videos is seems the starting position is on the left, however the racing line & the clean side seems to be on the right.

  4. We must to pay attention to the forecast… Could turn the race even more trick tomorrow!

  5. hey KAKA, look at this one:


    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



    “The pole position slot for the European Grand Prix has been switched to the right side of the track ahead of this weekend’s first race in Valencia.

    The original first slot was situated on the left hand side of the track, which was supposed to have been more favourable for the racing line into the first right hand corner.

    But after observing the behaviour of cars during practice on Friday and Saturday, FIA Formula One safety delegate Charlie Whiting has announced that the pole position slot will now be moved to the right…

  6. GP2 alredy started on the right side of the grid…

  7. Good days worth of qualifying. Great effort on the part of Massa. Solid from Hamilton, Kubica and Raikkonen. But a STERLING performance by Vettel. Very excited to see if he can either maintain that sixth place if not get himself further up the field. As tomorrow is likely to bring no end of surprises, I think Vettel has a chance of podium if he keeps his nose clean.

  8. Stealthman – fixed, thanks

  9. 4 guys in a bar(including myself) and two chefs, cheered for vettel during Q2

    it was magical.

  10. michael counsell
    23rd August 2008, 17:14

    The first 4 could be low on fuel as the gap to the rest wasn’t apparent in Q1 or Q2 or any of the practise sessions.

  11. Had alot of fun watching qualifying today. The US commentators on the SpeedTV channel were watching the in-car camera view of one of the BMWs making a run, and said it looked like they were racing TIE fighters from Star Wars, with the concrete walls looming up so close on both sides from blind corner to blind corner.

    What happened to Timo Glock? Early it seemed like he was clicking off some good laps, and the talking heads were commenting on how quick he was, and then he didn’t make it out of Q2. Good run for Jarno in qualifying, hopefully we won’t see a Trulli train tomorrow considering how difficult passing is going to be.

  12. I’m very impressed with the pace of the STRs this weekend. They’re blitzing the mother team.

    McLaren pulled a brilliant strategy maneuver running Kovalainen a bit heavier than the guys who qualified top-4. He’s running a bit lighter than the guys who qualified behind him, but his time was 1.8 seconds off of the time of his Q2 lap, whereas the guys in the first two rows were 1.1-1.3 seconds off. He’s still a little lighter than the guys from 6-10 (Who all ran from 2.3-2.8 seconds off their Q2 laps), but he’ll be in position to remain out if there is a safety car period before the first stops. This way, he can remain out while Hamilton comes in (thus avoiding a queue), build a lead, and then come out ahead of a Ferrari after his first pit stop. Well done, Ron Dennis!

    The STRs are also running heavy, as are Trulli, Heidfeld, and Rosberg. I’m sure they were all thinking the same thing: prepare for a saftey car and catch the top-2 rows with their pants down. Even if the safety car is early and doesn’t quite come close enough to the pit window for stops to occur, it would still occur at a critical time during the Grand Prix when the top cars could be building a gap for the first round of stops, as two or three laps under a safety car could rob them of the opportunity to put 4-5 seconds on the rest of the field. Very nice thinking by these teams, and a very good job by McLaren to counter..

  13. Do you think that both STRs are heavy Paige?

    As Keith points out Vettel made a small mistake. I wonder whether they opted for one light and one heavy?

  14. Vettel did make a small mistake, but it wasn’t enough to cost him that much, I don’t think. I really think both are running heavy, and that Vettel is running at least as heavy as Kovalainen.

  15. It would seem that Vettel really is a guy to watch for the future, no wonder Red Bull moved heaven and earth to keep him. A real gutsy display in a car that would never have been considered a challenger to the front runners.
    My surprise performance, or lack of performance, came from Raikkonen. He just cannot find the groove at the moment, and coming off his much needed second place in Hungary, I was expecting better things.
    Alonso maybe one to watch tomorrow. I am interested to see just how much that mistake cost him on his quali lap, in comparison to his true race pace tomorrow. I am sure his motivation will be there as always, especially infront of his home fans.
    The dark horse though, and a man who may steal the thunder of the others, could be Robert Kubica. He is in the pound seats if anything happens to Massa or Hamilton, and realistically needs a win to stay in the championship hunt.

    My predictions for the top three:

    1. Kubica
    2. Massa
    3. Hamilton

  16. I don’t think the STRs are heavy; I think they are aerodynamically poor if they are fast in the traps but otherwise non-competitive. Who knew these cars had it in them.

    This means the next question is: What happened, Force India?

  17. chunter,

    the STRs have been very competitive all weekend in lap times.

    The reason why I said the STRs looked light is due to the differential in their lap times from Q2 to Q3. Their Q3 times are about 2.3 seconds slower than their Q2 time, a margin which usually indicates that the car is heavy on fuel. (Hell, Heidfeld’s Q3 is 2.8 seconds slower than his Q2!) The top-2 rows had Q3 lap times 1.1-1.3 seconds slower than their Q2 lap times, which indicates to me that they’re running much lighter on fuel than the guys from row three on back.

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