Ferrari’s Felipe Massa took his third successive pole position by beating his main championship rival and home crowd favourite Fernando Alonso by just three hundredths of a second.
This was another impressive performance by the Brazilian; his fifth in the past six races and tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix should be another great battle between Ferrari and McLaren.
By qualifying at the front, Massa will have the advantage of leading the chasing pack into the first corner. Overtaking at the Circuit de Catalunya will be tricky as the track relies on the aerodynamics of these modern spec Formula One racing cars. But the possibility of cars passing each other could come into effect with a new chicane at the end of the lap.
The Brazilian predicts that the Grand Prix will be difficult to call but Massa believes he has a good chance of winning in front of the Spanish crowd.
“Definitely it is very nice. Three pole positions in a row this year so I have a really quick and great car,” said Massa.
“I am happy to see the job of the team, for sure. I am really happy to be first in qualifying and we are looking forward to having a good race.
“I am really happy to be here, tomorrow will be difficult and tight race for all the Spanish people and everyone watching, hopefully we can have some good laps and a good race.”
Massa has again out-qualified his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn having to settle for third position for the third time running.
Raikkonen admitted he was happy with his car over the first two sectors of the circuit, but struggled with the handling in the final one.
“I think it is better than nothing,” said the Finn. “I was happier today with the car, I think we had good speed in the first two sectors but lost it all in the last. The car was difficult to drive.
“We have to get that right for tomorrow so we can drive, but it is not a bad position and we will see what happens.”
As for McLaren, double world champion Fernando Alonso remains confident for the race despite losing out on the top spot in the closing stages in qualifying.
“It has been a very good weekend for us so far with the car performing well, the front row of the grid is confirmation of how competitive the car is and how competitive the package is,” said Alonso.
“We are confident for tomorrow and we can see a very good race for the battle for the victory.”
His McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton will start the race in fourth but the British rookie might have the upper hand on the Spaniard with a better race strategy.
“We weren’t able to get any further up than fourth – I’m getting used to that position now in qualifying,” he said.
“But we had a slightly different strategy than Fernando at least, and I think we’re in good shape for tomorrow.
“If you work it out, I was just as quick, if not maybe quicker. But we will see.”
Behind the four fastest drivers came BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica, who managed to out-qualify his more experienced team-mate Nick Heidfeld. The German will start in eighth with the Toyota of Jarno Trulli split between them.
Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen made it into the top ten for the first time in his Formula One career with eighth, two places and three tenths of a seconds ahead of team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.
Between the Renault pair it’s David Coulthard in the Red Bull. This was the Scot’s highest grid position since the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix.
Tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix should be quite tense as three drivers are tied on exactly the same championship points (Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton). The long run down to the first corner will be critical and the McLarens seem to be pretty good off the line this year. Alonso will be going for glory in front of his passionate crowd but can Massa stop him? What about Raikkonen, can he take his second victory for team? Or will we see the first Grand Prix win for Hamilton? Let the racing commence!
Spanish Grand Prix grid
1. MASSA Ferrari 1:21.421
2. ALONSO McLaren 1:21.451
3. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1:21.723
4. HAMILTON McLaren 1:21.785
5. KUBICA BMW 1:22.253
6. TRULLI Toyota 1:22.324
7. HEIDFELD BMW 1:22.389
8. KOVALAINEN Renault 1:22.568
9. COULTHARD Red Bull 1:22.749
10. FISICHELLA Renault 1:22.881
11. ROSBERG Williams 1:21.968
12. BARRICHELLO Honda 1:22.097
13. SATO Super Aguri 1:22.115
14. BUTTON Honda 1:22.120
15. DAVIDSON Super Aguri 1:22.295
16. LIUZZI Toro Rosso 1:22.508
17. SCHUMACHER Toyota 1:22.666
18. WURZ Williams 1:22.769
19. WEBBER Red Bull 1:23.398
20. SUTIL Spyker 1:23.811
21. ALBERS Spyker 1:23.990
22. SPEED Toro Rosso No time