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Despite talk of not taking unnecessary risks, Hamilton takes superb last-gasp pole

NEWS STORY
11/10/2008

Ahead of today's all-important qualifying session, the air temperature is 22 degrees C, while the track temperature is also 22 degrees.

Conditions have improved dramatically since this morning, the rain clouds have moved away and the sun is attempting to break through. With no rain expected tomorrow for the race, this means that drivers will not have to make as big a compromise in terms of set-up as expected.

Had it been wet this afternoon, drivers would have to choose whether to go for a wet set-up in order to achieve a good qualifying position, or chance their luck with a dry set up focussed on tomorrow's race. Whatever their decision, once this afternoon's session is over there's no going back.

Anyway, with the threat of rain now diminished it looks as though the choice has been made for them.

While we expect the usual suspects to be at the front end of the grid, keep an eye out for Timo Glock, who has been superb all weekend, Nelson Piquet and Sebastien Bourdais, who both appear to have finally realised that they have only a couple of races in which to secure drives for 2009.

The tyre options this weekend are medium and soft. Despite the fact that the track is still a little damp in patches, nobody will be going out on inters.

The lights go green and Piquet is first out, followed by the Williams duo, Trulli and Button.

Piquet posts the benchmark, crossing the line at 19.286, Rosberg goes second, ahead of Trulli, Button and Nakajima.

Jarno Trulli posts 19.191 but is soon eclipsed by his Toyota teammate who crosses the line at 19.010.

An 18.727 sees Massa go quickest, as Hamilton makes a meal out of getting out of the way of Glock. The Englishman knows that this is no time to get a grid penalty for impeding another driver, or indeed, any other penalty.

Hamilton goes quickest in sectors one and two, crossing the line at 18.232, almost half-a-second quicker than Massa. Elsewhere, Raikkonen, currently eighth, goes quickest in the first sector. The Finn loses pace in the second sector, finally crossing the line at 18.817 to go third.

Halfway through this first phase, all but Kubica, Heidfeld, Alonso and Webber have posted times.

As Kovalainen goes third, Kubica posts 19.038 to go sixth.

Piquet goes second with an 18.300, as Alonso goes eighth and Webber goes quickest in the second sector. However, the Australian can a only manage 19.402 and remains in the danger zone along with his Red Bull teammate. That said, DC goes fourth with an 18.540, one of the first drivers to switch to the soft option.

Glock (medium) goes quickest with an 18.138, as countryman Vettel slips into the danger zone. The Toro Rosso driver is unhappy with the handling of his car. Teammate Bourdais is fourteenth.

Just under four minutes remaining, and Kovalainen (mediums) posts personal bests in the first two sectors, finally crossing the line at 18.220 to go second.

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