Malaysia GP – Massa takes pole in Malaysia
Brazilian Massa, who also started in pole in 2007, recorded a time of 1:35.748, nearly half-a-second ahead of Raikkonen (1:36.230) as threatened rain did not materialise until moments after the conclusion of the session.
Massa did not look comfortable in Q2, re-emerging – along with Hamilton – late on to set a precautionary final lap as he dropped down the timing list and using another set of valuable tyres.
However he improved immeasurably in the Q3 pole shoot-out, completing a stunning turnaround for the Scuderia after their Melbourne horror show .
Kovalainen and Hamilton followed close behind the Ferraris on the final straight as the seconds ticked away, but the Briton could not match the Finn’s 1:36.613 with his 1:36.709.
Hamilton did not look comfortable throughout the qualifying hour, consistently outside the top times in each section and forced into that desperate – and ultimately unnecessary – last lap on Q2.
The Championship leader locked up at one point early on and could not find the grip he required to set a time to challenge the Italian outfit.
Toyota‘s Jarno Trulli (1:36.711) produced a shock by snatching fifth place late on from Robert Kubica (1:36.727) in the BMW, whose hot lap was even faster than that of the pole-sitter in the first sector but lost time on the final part of the track.
German Nick Heidfeld‘s BMW was good enough for a comfortable seventh after putting down a time of 1:36.753 from Mark Webber‘s (1:37.009) Red Bull, while Fernando Alonso of Renault could only manage ninth.
Timo Glock completed an impressive day for Toyota by reaching the third qualifying phase, but had to settle for 10th.
Scot Coulthard in particular will be pleased after safety concerns almost ruled him out of the race altogether due to a crash in practice.