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Massa takes pole position for Brazilian GP

Massa takes pole position for Brazilian GP

Home-crowd favorite Felipe Massa took the pole position for the decisive Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday, improving his chances of overcoming Lewis Hamilton for the Formula One title.
Massa posted a qualifying time of 1 minute, 12.368 seconds in his Ferrari, delighting the tens of thousands of fans at the 4.3-kilometer (2.6-mile) Interlagos track.
Toyota's Jarno Trulli was second in 1:12.737, and Massa's teammate Kimi Raikkonen third in 1:12.825.
Championship leader Hamilton was fourth fastest in his McLaren in 1:12.830, ahead of teammate Heikki Kovalainen's lap of 1:12.917. Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who was quickest in practice on Friday and Saturday morning, was sixth with his Renault after clocking 1:12.967.
Massa was fastest in the first part of the qualifying session and fourth in the second before managing a quick lap that was .369 quicker than Trulli. Hamilton's slower time could be the consequence of a fuel strategy that gave him a heavier car in the time trial.
"Tomorrow I will be focusing on my own race," Hamilton said. "It will be a tough afternoon but I'm comfortable with the fuel strategy we chose. We are in a good position to finish in the same place we are today _ and that's got to be our aim."
Hamilton has a seven-point lead in the championship. F1's first black driver, he doesn't even need to win Sunday's race to become the youngest F1 champion at 23. If Massa fails to cross the line in first or second, he will automatically win the championship.
For Massa to win the title, he needs to win and hope Hamilton finishes sixth or lower. Massa's sixth pole of the year gives him a good start.
"We have a pretty long race tomorrow, but it's always better to start from the front," Massa said. "We have a good car. We proved our car is very competitive here."
Massa also became the first driver to win three straight poles at Interlagos. He last started from first place at the Singapore Grand Prix in September.
The fans celebrated wildly when Massa climbed out of the car to salute them. Ayrton Senna was the last Brazilian to win the F1 championship in 1991.
"It's so nice to be here," Massa said. "Making the third pole in a row in front of this fantastic people. It's difficult to describe with a single word how I'm feeling."
Several banners posted by fans around the track had messages supporting Massa and wishing bad luck to Hamilton. One of them read, in English, "Hamilton: The lake's curve waits for you," referring to a turn at Interlagos just in front of a small lake.
Fans cheered loudly nearly every time Massa appeared on the big screens, and jeered just as loudly when Hamilton was shown.
About 70,000 fans are expected for the race on Sunday. Fans even climbed on top of roofs and trees outside the track to try to get a glimpse of the action on Saturday.
Massa won his home race in 2006 and was second last year.
The Brazilian could become the first driver to win a title in front of his home crowd since the inaugural F1 season in 1950, when Italy's Giuseppe Farina won at the season-ending Italian GP. Massa could also become the first non-European driver to win the title since Canada's Jacques Villeneuve in 1997.
Hamilton can become the first British champion since Damon Hill in 1996.
Last year, he blew the same seven-point lead in the decisive Brazilian GP. A mistake in the first lap and then a gear problem led to a seventh-place finish _ good only for second in the standings, behind Raikkonen.
Hamilton is using the same engine he had when winning the Chinese GP two weeks ago, while Massa has a new one. Drivers are required to use the same engine in at least two consecutive races.
Despite starting only sixth, Alonso said he was satisfied with his qualifying run.
"We thought it would be very close and competitive this afternoon and we were not mistaken," Alonso said. "We knew that it would be difficult to try and match the Ferraris and McLarens and so I think we have done our maximum this afternoon by qualifying in sixth place."
Warm weather was expected for Sunday, but showers during the race were a possibility.


Updated : 2021-10-20 08:09 GMT+08:00