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Massa takes pole to set up a Singapore sizzler

NEWS STORY
27/09/2008

Ahead of today's all-important qualifying session, the air temperature is 30 degrees C, while the track temperature is 31 degrees. Humidity is 69 per cent, and there is no expectation of rain.

While Lewis Hamilton has looked good in all three practice sessions, it's interesting to note that Fernando Alonso has topped the timesheets in two of them. Whether we should be reading anything in to this, only time will tell. Massa has been up there, while Raikkonen has been hit and miss, a situation not helped when he stalled his Ferrari in this morning's session losing precious track-time.

We've reported previously that it has been difficult until now to see a discernable difference between the two tyre compounds available - hard (soft) and soft (super-soft) - which only adds to the tension as we look ahead to this session and tomorrow's race.

While the spin doctors have been pointing out how much praise the drivers have heaped on this track, it should be noted that in this morning's session Robert Kubica referred to the pitlane entry as being "incredibly dangerous". This is in spite of modifications carried out overnight following complaints from numerous drivers yesterday.

In addition to the pitlane entrance, the exit has also been modified, while section of the track have been 'treated' in an attempt to remove the numerous bumps.

It might look great, according to some, but there are lots of problems, and while we do not wish to be moaning for the sake of moaning, one has to wonder how some of these problems, which appear to be basic in the extreme, have been overlooked by the organizers, the FIA and the Grand prix Drivers' Association (GPDA). Things like the bumps and the pitlane entrance were noticeable within seconds of the start of yesterday's first session.

In addition, thankfully, conditions up until now have been perfect, but despite the praise and all round thumbs up, one has to how bad it could really be should the heavens open up mid-session or mid-race.

The lights go green and Sutil is first out, as he usually is. Glock is also eager to get to work, as is Barrichello.

Sutil posts the first time of the session, crossing the line at 48.942, within moments Glock has posted a far more sensible 45.717.

Kimi Raikkonen begins his first flying lap, on softs, the Finn one of the first drivers out this afternoon, having missed a lot of this morning's session. The World Champion crosses the line at 47.049 which is only good enough for sixth.

Mass and Kovalainen (hards) are on track, the Finn running with a new engine having opted to play his 'joker' advantage. The McLaren driver goes quickest in the first sector, and as Nakajima goes second overall (45.764), Hamilton begins his first flying lap.

Massa goes second, only to be demoted by Kovalainen, Vettel and then Hamilton, the Englishman crossing the line at 44.501.

All eyes on Alonso, this morning's pace-setter, who is on softs. The Spaniard duly goes quickest in the first sector, as Kubica goes eleventh. The Renault loses time behind Rosberg in sector two, posts 44.971 to go second. Elsewhere, Glock takes to the escape road at Turn 7.

Fisichella, who crashed out of this morning's session after coming to grief on the kerbs, is yet to make an appearance.

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