|Felipe Massa on the streets of Singapore|
Before over 150,000 fans Felipe Massa took pole for Formula One's first ever night race by a whopping 6/10ths of a second in qualifying under the lights on the streets of beautiful Singapore.
The Ferrari driver, just one point behind Lewis Hamilton in the tight point standings, took provisional pole after his first run in Q3, but briefly lost the place to Hamilton's McLaren in the closing seconds.
However Massa was on an even hotter lap and setting fast time in all three sectors for a lap of 1:44.801 to take pole by huge in F1 standards 0.664 seconds.
Despite a major wobble Kimi Raikkonen was third in the second Ferrari. Robert Kubica claimed fourth for BMW, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen in the second McLaren, with BMW's Nick Heidfeld completing the top six.
Team by Team Summary
Pole sitter Felipe Massa's Q3 advantage over his championship rival Lewis Hamilton in Singapore qualifying was a huge seven tenths. "With hindsight it's easy to say maybe I could have run with slightly more fuel," the Brazilian, who described his best lap of the circuit as "perfect", said. Kimi Raikkonen was on the pace in Q1 and Q2 after his evening practice technical problem, and qualified behind Hamilton.
Hamilton ultimately qualified on the front row, but he very nearly had to sit out the Q3 action, scraping in by the barest of margins after messing up an early lap. "Thank goodness," his engineer was heard saying on the radio. Heikki Kovalainen was quicker than his teammate in Q1 and Q2 and qualified fifth in Q3 when he brushed a wall. "Even a minor mistake can cost you a few places," the Finn said.
Robert Kubica qualified fourth, two places ahead of his teammate Nick Heidfeld, and both declared themselves "happy". Technical boss Willy Rampf said: "We are well prepared for the race."
Sebastien Bourdais did not break through the Q1 barrier, but his Monza winning teammate Sebastian Vettel climbed all the qualifying hurdles and lines up P7 on the grid. "As yet, we have seen nothing in the data to indicate an anomaly," said engineer Giorgio Ascanelli, after Bourdais complained about a bizarrely-behaving STR3.
The TF108 has not been a standout performer on the bumpy Singapore streets, but - unlike the usual qualifying specialist Jarno Trulli (P11) - Timo Glock raced through all qualifying segments and is eighth. "Jarno has had a difficult weekend," said technical boss Pascal Vasselon.
Nico Rosberg has featured in the upper elements of the timesheets throughout the Singapore weekend, and qualified ninth. "I did hope for a little more," admitted the German, whose teammate Kazuki Nakajima completes the top half of the grid. "Congratulations to Kazuki on his first top ten qualifying result," said technical boss Sam Michael.
It says a lot about Honda's 2008 car, which is better suited to high downforce tracks, that Jenson Button (P12) is "pretty happy" to miss the Q3 cut by three tenths of a second. "It's nice to have the pace to compete in Q2 again," the Briton said. Rubens Barrichello is ahead only of the slowest Force Indias, after complaining about qualifying traffic.
Mark Webber and David Coulthard, who share the seventh row of the grid, got through Q1 but progressed little further with the Renault-powered RB4. "It's not good to start the race in the middle of the pack," said Coulthard, who did only 6 laps in the earlier evening practice session before a gearbox problem.
Fernando Alonso continued his mighty Friday form into Saturday, topping the evening practice timesheets and showing pace in Q1, but he will start the race from P15, after a 'fuel supply' problem in Q2. "I will need a miracle with the strategy to be able to make progress on this circuit where it looks difficult to overtake," said the Spaniard, after furiously emerging from his stranded R28 that he said was fast enough for a front row grid position. With much slower pace, Nelson Piquet dropped out in Q1 and will join Alonso on the eighth row.
A day to forget for Force India; slowest in practice, two crashes (one in practice on the notorious turn 10 kerbs, one caused by a puncture in qualifying) for Giancarlo Fisichella, and an awfully-slow Q1 laptime for Adrian Sutil. "I think this is probably one of our worst qualifying performances so far this year," the latter said.