Massa captures pole
Hamilton hopes for a fast start
VALENCIA, Spain - Ferrari's Felipe Massa won the pole position for the European Grand Prix after edging McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in qualifying.
The Brazilian Massa timed a fastest lap of 1 minute 38.989 seconds on the 3.4-mile course around the eastern city's port yesterday, with Britain's Hamilton in second after clocking 1:39.199.
BMW's Robert Kubica was third at 1:39.392.
Hamilton leads the drivers standings with 62 points, 5 ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and 8 in front of Massa. Raikkonen was fourth in qualifying.
"Fourth place is not what I was looking for but it's definitely not the end of the world," the Finnish driver said. "I could have been higher up the grid, but on my last run . . . I locked the wheels at a few points and lost valuable time."
Hamilton is coming off a disappointing Hungarian Grand Prix, where he started from the pole but was passed by Massa at the start and then had a tire puncture. Today, it will be Hamilton looking to overtake the leader early.
"It's a good starting position for us," Hamilton said. "[Felipe's] going to be hard to beat, but we'll certainly push for it."
Home favorite and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will start from 12th on the grid after being eliminated after the second session, with teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. behind in 15th.
"I am understandably disappointed with the qualifying session because I had other hopes for today," Alonso said. "The race will therefore be more difficult, but as we're on a street course, anything is possible in the race."
It is Massa's fourth pole position this year, and he'll be looking for his fourth victory after winning in Bahrain, Turkey, and France.
Kubica showed again that BMW should not be counted out, after struggling in the races following his first F1 win at the Canadian GP in June.
"This was a very good qualifying for the team and me," said Kubica, who is fourth in the standings with 49 points. "After some unlucky races lately, the pace of the car here in Valencia is not that bad. However, there is a small gap to Ferrari and McLaren."