Massa beats Hamilton to Valencia pole

Felipe Massa beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the first Grand Prix to be held at the Valencia street circuit

Massa beats Hamilton to Valencia pole

The duo battled fiercely in Q3, with Ferrari driver Massa initially taking provisional pole by a commanding half a second after Hamilton made an error in the final sector.

Undaunted, Hamilton (McLaren) tried again and on his second run he was able to edge ahead of the Brazilian by 0.2 seconds, only for Massa to find even more time and leap back to the timesheets in a 1:38.989.

After topping final practice, Robert Kubica again showed very strong pace as he grabbed third on the grid for BMW - forcing Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari and Heikki Kovalainen's McLaren down to fourth and fifth.

But the real star of qualifying was Sebastian Vettel, who was fastest of all in Q2 and then claimed a superb sixth on the grid for Toro Rosso, with his teammate Sebastien Bourdais reaching Q3 for the first time and taking 10th.

Jarno Trulli (Toyota) also had the chance to top a session, leading the way in Q1, and then qualified seventh ahead of BMW's Nick Heidfeld and Williams' Nico Rosberg. The former was fortunate to reach Q3 after having to take to the asphalt run-off in Q1 due to a misunderstanding with Timo Glock in traffic.

One of the biggest shocks of qualifying was home favourite Fernando Alonso's absence from Q3. The former champion had been rapid in both practice and first qualifying, only to run wide over a high kerb on his final Q2 lap and end up 12th, with his Renault teammate Nelson Piquet also struggling in 15th.

Williams' Kazuki Nakajima came within 0.092 seconds of joining teammate Rosberg in the top ten, but there was a bigger gap between the Toyota pair, as Timo Glock lagged half a second behind Trulli and could only qualify 13th.

Red Bull continued to struggle, as they had in practice. Mark Webber made it to Q2, whereas David Coulthard was left 17th, but the Australian was unable to better 14th position.

Also in trouble were Honda, with Jenson Button knocked out in Q1 and left with 16th, and Rubens Barrichello requiring a huge effort just to beat Force India's Adrian Sutil to 19th.

Pos  Driver        Team                 Q1        Q2        Q3       Laps
 1.  Massa         Ferrari              1:38.176  1:37.859  1:38.989  19
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes     1:38.464  1:37.954  1:39.199  15
 3.  Kubica        BMW Sauber           1:38.347  1:38.050  1:39.392  18
 4.  Raikkonen     Ferrari              1:38.703  1:38.229  1:39.488  21
 5.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes     1:38.656  1:38.120  1:39.937  18
 6.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1:38.141  1:37.842  1:40.142  19
 7.  Trulli        Toyota               1:37.948  1:37.928  1:40.309  21
 8.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber           1:38.738  1:37.859  1:40.631  19
 9.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota      1:38.595  1:38.336  1:40.721  18
10.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1:38.622  1:38.417  1:40.750  18
11.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota      1:38.667  1:38.428            15
12.  Alonso        Renault              1:38.268  1:38.435            12
13.  Glock         Toyota               1:38.532  1:38.499            14
14.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault     1:38.559  1:38.515            15
15.  Piquet        Renault              1:38.787  1:38.744            15
16.  Button        Honda                1:38.880                       6
17.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault     1:39.235                       9
18.  Fisichella    Force India-Ferrari  1:39.268                      10
19.  Barrichello   Honda                1:39.811                      10
20.  Sutil         Force India-Ferrari  1:39.943                       9

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