Felipe Massa takes pole for title decider (2008 Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Felipe Massa celebrates his third consecutive pole position at Interlagos
Felipe Massa celebrates his third consecutive pole position at Interlagos

Felipe Massa thrilled the home crowd by taking pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix for the third year in a row.

But this year it means even more as he faced down Lewis Hamilton for the world championship. Hamilton starts fourth behind Jarno Trulli and Kimi Raikkonen.

Despite early concerns about the weather qualifying was run in near-perfect conditions. The track had warmed up considerably since the final practice session, with the mercury in the high 30s and nudging towards 40C.

Part one

Nelson Piquet Jnr was first out on track and took two attempts to set a 1’13.208 – but home rival Rubens Barrichello was quicker with a 1’13.030.

Felipe Massa wasted no time on joining the circuit as the crowd voiced its approval. Lewis Hamilton, following a minute or so behind him, got a less welcoming reception…

Massa’s first lap was slightly slower than Heikki Kovalainen’s, then Jarno Trulli displaced the two of them. Hamilton then beat all three to go fastest with a 1’12.213.

Massa did a second lap but didn’t improve but on his third lap he lowered his mark to a 1’12.389. That kept in fourth ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

Timo Glock spun at the S do Senna early in the session which caused a problem for Fernando Alonso who was following not far behind.

Just before the final flurry of laps Massa strapped on a new set of medium compound tyres and set the fastest time of the weekend so far – 1’11.830. Raikkonen followed him with s 1’12.083 to go second, piling the pressure on Hamilton.

The bottom 14 drivers all returned to the track for an extra lap to avoid being caught in the last five. Among them was Robert Kubica, 15th, and on the cusp of being eliminated. He moved up to seventh, but David Coulthard in his final F1 appearance could only manage 12th. He slipped down the order as faster drivers set times but ended up 15th – one place away from being knocked out.

Also escaping elimination was another old hand in what could be his final race – Rubens Barrichello.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part one

16. Kazuki Nakajima 1’12.800
17. Jenson Button 1’12.810
18. Nico Rosberg 1’13.002
19. Giancarlo Fisichella 1’13.426
20. Adrian Sutil 1’13.508

Part two

The Ferraris quickly resumed their places at the top of the times sheets in Q2, with Massa setting a 1’11.875 and Raikkonen a 1’11.970. But Hamilton hit back, setting his fastest time of the weekend so far with a 1’11.856.

Kovalainen was poised to beat the lot of them after setting fastest times in the first two sectors. But a poor final sector left him fifth and needing a second run to guarantee a place in Q3. That run was quick enough to put him top with a 1’11.768.

With just 0.4s covering the top ten almost every driver chose to do another lap, except for Massa. Hamilton went out for one last lap but, with not enough drivers improving to cause him a problem, he returned to the pits to preserve his engine life.

For the second race in a row Kubica struggled and his team mate Nick Heidfeld was the sole BMW in Q3 – a reversal of the situation earlier in the season.

Also out were the veterans – Coulthard and Barrichello – plus Webber making it both Red Bulls out and both Toro Rossos in once more. Nelson Piquet Jnr also failed to reach the final ten meaning only one Brazilian made it to the end of qualifying. But, as far as the crowd were concerned, it was the most important one…

Bottom five drivers’ times for part two

11. Nelson Piquet Jnr 1’12.137
12. Mark Webber 1’12.289
13. Robert Kubica 1’12.300
14. David Coulthard 1’12.717
15. Rubens Barrichello 1’13.139

Part three

Both McLaren and Ferraris made it into Q3, accompanied by the Toro Rossos, Toyotas, Alonso and Heidfeld.

Massa quickly went to the top of the times with a 1’12.453, only six tenths of a second slower than his time from Q2. Raikkonen moved into second, but Hamilton’s first lap was just plain scruffy and left him only sixth. The final sector of his out-lap was the quickest by anyone in Q3 up to that point, and it looked a lot like Hamilton had simply pushed his soft compound tyres too hard. Jarno Trulli squeezed between the Ferraris, and Kovalainen and Vettel both beat Hamilton.

Massa found a fractional improvement over his first lap time and set a 1’12.368 – four tenths of a second faster than anyone else.

The big surprise was Jarno Trulli, who pulled out one of his trademark perfect qualifying laps to take second and prevent a Ferrari one-two. Hamilton took fourth with Kovalainen behind him – and Alonso sixth.

Top ten drivers’ times for part three

1. Felipe Massa 1’12.368
2. Jarno Trulli 1’12.737
3. Kimi Raikkonen 1’12.825
4. Lewis Hamilton 1’12.830
5. Heikki Kovalainen 1’12.917
6. Fernando Alonso 1’12.967
7. Sebastian Vettel 1’13.082
8. Nick Heidfeld 1’13.297
9. Sebastien Bourdais 1’14.106
10. Timo Glock 1’14.230

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29 comments on “Felipe Massa takes pole for title decider (2008 Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying)”

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  1. way to go FI…… You guys never let me down….never….

  2. Good to see the Ferrari powered Toro Rossos getting in amongst the top eight in qualifying… no coincidence that Ferrari are fighting for the championship and need all the help they can get?

  3. HAM is in an interesting position.

    On the one hand he would be much more comfortable if he was a little further up from P6, which is his worst-case scenario if Massa wins. At P4 he’s very sensitive to stuff beyond his control that could relegate him to P6. But he does have KOV behind him, which is great if KOV can hold off ALO on the start (not a guarantee as we saw Renault power in China).

    On the the other hand, if he passes RAI on the start, he’ll be stuck behind a slower Trulli and be defending position from an attacking RAI who has nothing to lose – making HAM much more susceptible to errors with the pressure.

    On balance I think he should just try to get a good start and create a buffer between him and P6 even if that means coming under attack from RAI (who usually needs a few laps to get going anyway).

  4. Beautiful effort by Massa, what an amazing lap, just stunning!!

    As for hamilton? He has left himself caught between a rock and a hard place, if he tries to charge forward off the grid he will bump into Kimi, if he tries to hold station he could bump into Fernando! Surrounded by 2 of the drivers in the field who have sworn to help Massa with Trulli thrown in for good measure must be on his mind.

    However, as long as he doesn’t do a sloppy start like Japan (or Brazil last year) he should be alright.


  5. I am too nervous to watch the start. I read what happened on the various forums and if everyone got off clean, I’ll join in.

  6. Job well done by Felipe.That lap from Trulli was a shocker.Kimi also did a nice lap.

  7. Lewis is simply keeping wrong company – it couldn’t get worse – all the drivers in front and around him except Kova have made it clear they will do whatever they can to deny him the championship. But anything can and often does happen in F1.

  8. what is next from hamilton? I would suggest him to have a safe outing at Brazil just to ensure his crown! But for some reason I feel that is not going to happen :)

  9. I’m nervous about the start as well, but it’s more what is Trulli going to do come first corner. I only hope Raikonnen gets past him into the first corner, and they get cleanly away! I’m going to have nightmares tonight about Trulli hashing things up for Ferrari.

    Atmosphere just seemed electric, I think out of the whole season there is nowhere I’d want to be right now other than Sao Paulo – beautiful sunshine (although forecast for rain tomorrow), a whole country behind their man for the last effort at the WDC, couldn’t be better . . . well, there is winning it ;-)

  10. I would like Hamilton to win the championship but something tells me is not going to make it this time due to a poor qualifying.

  11. It seemed to me that both Lewis and Kovi were trying very hard not to smile in the post quali interviews. Whenever they mentioned strategy.

  12. ScuderiaToroFerrari4Eva
    1st November 2008, 18:35

    keith you made a mistake “plus Webber making it both Red Bulls in and both Toro Rossos out once more”. just thought i might correct you but astonishing q3 massa’s lap was perfect his fuel load according to rob smedley is normal if its normal then things looking pretty good for him also i thought sebastian vettel would go for a 2nd run and get it up there but i was wrong tommorow should be interesting hopefully fernando will have a battle with hamilton and vettel will breeze past all of them and what possibility would you say of rain in percent

  13. I’ll say this ‘fer nothing; that was the most vocal-an-F1 crowd I’ve ever heard.

  14. McLaren look like they have won the battle of the mind-games. I firmly believe they are fueld considerably heavier than the Ferraris. They don’t need to win, plus they’ll want to have as big a pit-stop window as possible in case of rain. I wouldn’t be at all suprised to see Kimi and Felipe pitting 4 or 5 laps before Lewis and Heikki.

    As for the first corner, I don’t think anyone will try anything silly, I’m sure Charlie Whiting will have a word with all involved. (Mind you given the stewards’ recent form with regards to Charlie’s advice to drivers they’ll probably give Hamilton a penalty for not trying hard enough…!!)

    May the best man win (DC), and whoever wins the championship I’ll be happy.

  15. Keith,
    In Part one time for Nelson Piquet seems to off by about 19 secs for Interlagos.. ;)
    By the way stunning lap by Massa.. but anyways this WDC belongs to Lewis I think.

  16. good work by massa…..hope he wins the championship title awaited by him for quiet a long time.

  17. I agree with Adrian. I have to say that Ferrari have been duped into running very light, forcing them into a small window of oportunity for their first stops.

    I will take my hat off tomorrow to Massa if he is fueled as heavy as the McLarens, it was a great a lap.

    With the added lottery of rain forecast, this will be a real nail biter for all concerned

  18. Massa is light. Very light. Looking at the Q3-Q2 difference, Massa has half the number of Raikonnen. By my math 2-3 laps less fuel. Hamilton and Kovalainen are even heavier. This will work out for Massa if Hamilton is stuck behind the Trulli Train and with Raikonnen driving a wide car.

    Trulli has to be even lighter than Massa to account for the performance difference, so look out for Trulli at the lights. If Trulli gets in front, Massa will be hard pressed to finish ahead of Hamilton and Kovalainen.

  19. STF4E & Abhishek – Fixed, thanks for keeping me honest :-)

  20. First thoughts after qualifying was that it was a bad day for Lewis, however like people have already pointed out fuel loads look to have played a part and probably explain the difference in pace in Q3.

    But more importantly than that is the fact that Lewis shouldn´t worry in the slightest if Massa and possibly Kimi romp off into the distance, Trulli wont be a threat over a race distance and thankfuly Kovi stuck his car inbetween Lewis and Alonso in the last nockins and i turn shuving Alonso onto the dirty side along with Lewis. Can you imagine If alonso was right behind Lewis and on the clean side, he´d have been rubbing his hands together the little git!!!

    Now Lewis has Kovi to protect him (in theory) at the start and should give Lewis the chance to make a clean start and run a nice simple race to come home in third. job done. If only it was that simple!!!

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