ISTANBUL, Turkey – Felipe Massa took a step toward repeating last year’s victory at the Turkish Grand Prix after claiming pole position Saturday.
The Ferrari driver had the fastest time in qualifying for Sunday’s race with 1 minute, 27.329 seconds at the 3.316-mile Istanbul Park circuit, where he claimed his first career pole and F1 victory last year.
“It’s always a nice start,” Massa said. “I was able to put everything together in the last try.”
McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton was second with 1:27.373 and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was third with 1:27.546. Raikkonen won the inaugural Turkish GP as a McLaren driver two years ago.
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Hamilton’s teammate Fernando Alonso was fourth in qualifying with 1:27.574 but the Spaniard said he wasn’t worried.
“I am optimistic, I am aways optimistic,” Alonso said. “I have no worries at all about sleeping tonight.”
It was the eighth career pole for Massa, and his fifth of the season. “I was able to put everything together in the last try,” Massa said. “It was very tough, it was very tight.”
Massa finished 13th in the Hungarian GP on Aug. 5 after a disappointing qualifying run that made him start from the back of the grid.
In Hungary, Alonso was penalized five spots on the starting grid for delaying his teammate in the pits in the final minutes of qualifying, although Hamilton refused to let Alonso pass him earlier, contrary to McLaren team orders.
This time McLaren had separate pit crews handling the different drivers.
“That was a decision the team took before qualifying,” Hamilton said. “They decided to have two pit crews and it worked out quite well.”
In the morning session, Hamilton had the fastest time with 1:27.325 followed by Massa, Raikkonen and Alonso.
In the overall standings, Hamilton has a seven-point lead in his rookie F1 season over two-time defending champion Alonso – 80-73.
Raikkonen is third in the standings with 60 points, one ahead of Massa as Ferrari and McLaren continue to divide the races. In the 11 races so far, Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen have won three each and Massa the other two.
After the fiasco at Hungary, Hamilton and Alonso met earlier in the week in Istanbul in an attempt to reconcile. However, there were conflicting versions on what was said.
“I apologized. He apologized,” Hamilton said of the meeting.
Alonso said otherwise.
“(Hamilton) apologized to me in case he had done anything wrong, and so I asked him if he thought I had done anything wrong as well,” Alonso said after Friday’s practice. “He told me ‘No,’ so I did not have anything to apologize for.”
McLaren has a 138-119 lead in the team standings, although it has appealed the penalty that cost the team their points in Hungary.
Sunday’s race is 58 laps.