Massa takes pole at French GP

Felipe Massa signaled a possible Ferrari comeback by taking the pole position on Saturday for the French Grand Prix to stop Lewis Hamilton's run.

updated: July 01, 2007 14:35 IST
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Magny Cours:

Felipe Massa signaled a possible Ferrari comeback by taking the pole position on Saturday for the French Grand Prix to stop Lewis Hamilton's run.

Massa timed 1 minute, 15.034 seconds on the 4.41-kilometer (2.74-mile) circuit for his fourth Formula One pole of the season and the seventh of his career.

The Brazilian had three straight poles earlier this season, but this is the first since the Spanish GP in May.

"I am happy to start again in the pole position," Massa said.

Hamilton was second for McLaren in 1:15.104, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari in 1:15.257.

"For sure, definitely, a good weekend for us," Massa said. "I think it is encouraging and we are back fighting ... I hope we can have a good car tomorrow."

Hamilton was not worried about Ferrari's resurgence.

"Everyone makes steps forward and obviously Ferrari has made steps forward, but I still believe we have the best car," Hamilton said.

Hamilton was ahead of Massa's time when he came into a turn too fast.

"I braked a little bit late," Hamilton said. "I think we had the pace today. I made a slight mistake in turn 15 and lost a little bit of time. That stuff happens.

"I think we can't be perfect all the time. I am very, very happy. I am on the front row."

Two-time defending world champion Fernando Alonso was 10th in his McLaren in a limited session. On his first lap in the third session, Alonso had a problem with his car and went straight back to the pits.

"It has not been an easy day so far in terms of luck," Alonso said. "I had a brake sensor issue in this morning's free practice and then a gearbox problem in the final qualifying.

"It is a relatively new experience for me as I have had no problems for such a long time," Alonso said.

Rain on race day could help him, Alonso added, by causing "some uncertainties which we might able to benefit from."

Robert Kubica, who survived a horrific crash at the Canadian GP and missed the following United States GP, was fourth in 1:15.493. He was cleared to race Thursday after hurting his ankle when he crashed hard into two walls in Montreal.

"I think a better result than this wasn't possible, but I feel we are in good shape for the race," said Kubica, who suffered only a sprained right ankle in the accident in Canada.

Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella and Heiki Kovalainen were fifth and sixth.

Hamilton took the pole in Canada and United States and won both races to make it seven straight podium finishes _ two wins, four seconds and a third in his rookie F1 season.

Hamilton leads the drivers' standings with 58 points, 10 ahead of Alonso and 19 in front of Massa.

McLaren has 12 of a possible 14 podium positions this season to lead the constructors' standings with 106 points. Ferrari is second with 71.

"So far this year we have not suffered from any major technical problems during race weekends and it's disappointing that the first one ruined Fernando's qualifying session," said Ron Dennis, McLaren's team boss.

Last year, Michael Schumacher and Massa led a Ferrari 1-2 in qualifications and the race, while Alonso finished third after winning the previous year.

After winning two races earlier this season, Massa has finished third twice and been disqualified in Canada for running a red light in the pit lane during a caution.