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Massa collects second straight pole

Massa collects second straight pole

Massa collects second straight pole
April 14th, 2007

Sakhir, Bahrain (Sports Network) - Brazilian Felipe Massa won the pole for Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, his second consecutive pole victory. The No.5 Ferrari driver circled the 3.366-miles desert road course in one minute, 32.652 seconds.

The victory was Massa's second of the season and fourth of his Formula One career.

Starting on the front row with Massa will be McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton. The amazing first-year driver has finished third and second in his first two starts in F1 and sits third in the drivers standings, just four points behind his teammate Fernando Alonso, the two-time World Champion.

Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari (1:33.131) and Alonso (1:33.192) will make up row two.

Alonso led the first session which saw the elimination of Christijan Albers, David Coulthard, Adrian Sutil, American Scott Speed, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Takuma Sato.

The second session went to Ferrari and Massa as the times dropped into the one minute, 31 seconds area. Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher, Anthony Davidson, Renault rookie Heikki Kovalainen and Alex Wurz were dropped. For the third straight race, the Honda factory team failed to reach the final session.

The final session with the remaining 10 drivers started slowly as the teams burned off fuel to lighten their load. We appeared to be ready for another showdown between Ferrari and McLaren. With eight minutes to go in "Q3" the drivers came in for the softer (faster) compound tires and the "shootout" began.

Hamilton put a fast time on the board and Massa bettered that with four minutes to go. Raikkonen and Alonso were third and fourth, respectively. On the final lap Massa bettered his own time, then waited for the others to finish. Hamilton came close, but couldn't catch the Brazilian. Then Raikkonen and Alonso took their final shots and both failed to beat Massa's time.

The race is set to drop the green flag on Sunday at 7:30 a.m. (et).

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Re: Massa collects second straight pole

No Sweat - Massa Wins in Bahrain

Following a week's worth of criticism following last Sunday’s race in Malaysia, Felipe Massa proved to be cool under pressure in the sweltering heat of Manama, Bahrain, today.

The Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver handled early pressure from rival Lewis Hamilton of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and broke away from the field during the second stint of the race en route to capturing his first victory of the 2007 season.

Unlike the Malaysian event, Massa was able to keep his pole starting position past the first turn of the event after Hamilton suffered a poor start which almost saw him lose the position to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Britain's Hamilton had another chance to overtake the Ferrari man following a safety car period that ensued after lap 1, which came out as a result of an accident that began with Adrian Sutil and took out American Scott Speed and Jenson Button. However, Hamilton was unable to get past the leader going into the first round of pit stops.

In the second stint, Hamilton could not match Massa’s pace, allowing the Brazilian to build up a 10-second lead going into his final pit stop and then cruising to victory in the 57-lap event.

The performance was in stark contrast to the aforementioned Malaysian Grand Prix, when Massa started from pole but dropped to third in just a matter of seconds after losing positions to McLaren teammates Fernando Alonso and Hamilton. He then fell back to fifth position after running off course, leading to high amounts of criticism in the worldwide press throughout the past week.

Nonetheless, Massa proved his detractors wrong by performing to the level that he displayed during the preseason tests on the 3.363-mile course to claim his third career victory.

"The result of the first two races was not as I expected, something was missing," Massa said. "The first race I had a problem, the second race I made mistakes and something was missing. This time we put everything together. I'm really pleased. Now we need to push even harder to keep up the momentum."

For his part, Hamilton made history by capturing his third consecutive podium finish to start his career – something not even the greats of the sport (i.e. Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio nor Ayrton Senna to name a few) accomplished in their rookie season.

"I think it is a fantastic achievement," said the 22-year-old Hamilton. "I am extremely proud, we have worked extremely hard to get where we are today, me and my family, but also my team in terms of how competitive we are.

"There is only more step from here and we will keep on pushing for Barcelona."

Kimi Raikkonen, Massa’s Ferrari teammate, claimed the final podium position with relative ease. After starting from third position, the Finnish driver lost the spot rather quickly to Alonso. However, he regained the spot in the first pitstops, coming out ahead of the Spaniard, and marched forward at a pace similar to that of his teammate.

For the first time since the Grand Prix of Italy in September of 2006, a span of six races, two-time defending World Champion and two-time defending Bahrain winner Alonso failed to finish on the podium, completing the 57-lap race in fifth place, just spot behind BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld.

"I was not able to have the right pace. I was unlucky," Alonso said. "Ferrari just did a better job."

BMW teammate Robert Kubica, Panasonic Toyota Racing’s Jarno Trulli and ING Renault F1 Team’s Giancarlo Fisichella rounded out the points paying finishers for the event.

After the first lap accident, the remainder of the event was pretty clean from that point forward, with only mechanical and engine problems sidelining the rest of the retirement list which included Vitantonio Liuzzi, Takuma Sato, David Coulthard, Mark Webber and Anthony Davidson.

Today’s results bring a change to the championship standings as Alonso is now tied with Raikkonen and the sensational rookie Hamilton at the top with 22 points apiece. Massa sits fourth, five points adrift, with Heidfeld rounding out the top five, seven points behind the leaders.

With the completion of today’s Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, the third event of the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship season, the Eastern portion of the schedule is now complete. Teams and drivers will get a three week break until the first European event of the year, the Grand Prix of Spain, scheduled for Sunday, May 13. In 2006, Spain’s native son Alonso won both the pole and the race during a dominating weekend at the Catalunya Circuit.

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