Ferrari’s Felipe Massa has secured his second successive pole position in qualifying at the Bahrain International Circuit, fending off Lewis Hamilton as the McLaren rookie took his first front row start.
The Brazilian was the fastest driver in both sessions one and two in qualifying and it became a private duel between himself and Hamilton for top honours in the shoot-out for pole position.
In the end, Massa takes his fifth career pole with a time of 1min. 32.652 seconds. Hamilton lines up alongside only three tenths of a second behind. It will be fascinating contest between the pair one week on from the action-packed Malaysian Grand Prix.
Both their team-mates were overshadowed, with Kimi Raikkonen beating Fernando Alonso by a small margin of around sixth hundreds of a second!
Behind the two McLarens and Ferraris came the BMW-Sauber pair of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, with fifth and sixth place respectively. Heidfeld continues to shine in the F1.07 and another points finish will be a nice reward for the driver and team.
Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella did a good job to qualify in seventh ahead of the Renault-powered Red Bull Racing of Mark Webber. And rounding up the top ten, Toyota-works driver Jarno Trulli beat the engine-supplied Williams of Nico Rosberg.
As for the battle between the two Honda organisations, Anthony Davidson produce a splendid performance to qualify ahead of his Super Aguri team-mate Takuma Sato and the works Honda unit of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button.
So the stage is set for another exciting Grand Prix between Ferrari and McLaren. Felipe Massa once again starts at the front and providing he doesn’t run into Lewis during the first part of the race, the Brazilian should win by having the fastest car in Formula One. If Hamilton makes a great start and leads the 22-car field into Turn 1, he might achieve his dream result of winning his first Grand Prix.
But Massa has other ideas and commented: “Our strategy for the first corner? Be more aggressive! We gave him the space last weekend; now we know what he can do we don’t give the space any more!”
Starting grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix
1. MASSA Ferrari 1:32.652
2. HAMILTON McLaren 1:32.935
3. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1:33.131
4. ALONSO McLaren 1:33.192
5. HEIDFELD BMW 1:33.404
6. KUBICA BMW 1:33.710
7. FISICHELLA Renault 1:34.056
8. WEBBER Red Bull 1:34.106
9. TRULLI Toyota 1:34.154
10. ROSBERG Williams 1:34.399
11. WURZ Williams 1:32.915
12. KOVALAINEN Renault 1:32.935
13. DAVIDSON Super Aguri 1:33.082
14. SCHUMACHER Toyota 1:33.294
15. BARRICHELLO Honda 1:33.624
16. BUTTON Honda 1:33.731
17. SATO Super Aguri 1:33.984
18. LIUZZI Toro Rosso 1:34.024
19. SPEED Toro Rosso 1:34.333
20. SUTIL Spyker 1:35.280
21. COULTHARD Red Bull 1:35.341
22. ALBERS Spyker 1:35.533