European GP - Past the 200 mark Felipe Massa's name will go down in the history books as the first Formula 1 driver to secure a pole position at the brand new Valencia street circuit. The Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro man was on great form, battling not only the other nineteen drivers, but also unusual weather with a few drops of rain falling, to record his fourth pole position of the season, the thirteenth of his career and to push the Scuderia past the double century mark, with this it's 201st pole in Formula 1.
Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen will start from fourth spot, blaming the fact he locked up his wheels a couple of times for not doing better. Sharing the front row with Felipe is current championship leader, Lewis Hamilton for McLaren-Mercedes, while inside Kimi on row 2, we find the BMW-Sauber of Robert Kubica. The other Finn, in the other McLaren, Heikki Kovalainen is fifth ahead of the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel, for whom this was his best ever F1 qualifying result.
Tomorrow's first ever Grand Prix at this interesting new facility could prove to be very tough for everyone. It's a long lap at 5.440 kilometers and there are 57 of them between the lights going out and the arrival of the checkered flag or maybe not. Although Valencia offers a wider track and more run-off areas than its more famous street circuit relative in Monaco, it seems to be a more complex task to remove any cars involved in incidents and any long Safety Car periods might see this race run to the regulation two hour maximum time limit rather than go the full distance. "At a more conventional race track, in terms of the effect of the weight of fuel on lap times and the life of the tires, this race would generally involve two pit stops per driver. However, the possibility of the race being neutralized always means that the team strategists have to be ready for a much greater variety of options as to when and how often to bring in the cars to refuel.
Whatever the strategic complexities, one element remains the same as at every other race, namely getting a good start. While Felipe is obviously in the very best position to achieve this, Kimi will be hoping to catch out at least the two drivers directly ahead of him in the early stages tomorrow afternoon. All the elements are in place for a thrilling fight, given that added bit of spice now that the championship - still so close between the leading drivers - is definitely entering its final stages.
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