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Massa snatches Spa pole, Hamilton takes it back

Latest update : 2008-09-06

Lewis Hamilton (photo) snatched a last-gasp pole position at the Belgian GP after his latest duel with Ferrari rival Felipe Massa. McLaren's British driver will lead the pack Sunday, ahead of Massa and Finland's Heikki Kovalainen in third.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was perfectly placed to extend his Formula One championship lead after seizing pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Briton will start Sunday's race with Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa, his main title rival, alongside on the front row.

Ferrari's world champion Kimi Raikkonen, who has won the last three Belgian Grands Prix at his favourite circuit, qualified fourth with fellow-Finn Heikki Kovalainen third for McLaren.

The pole position, with a fastest lap of one minute 47.338 seconds on a damp and overcast afternoon in the Ardennes forests, was Hamilton's 11th of his 30 race career and fifth of the season.

Hamilton leads Massa by six points in the championship with six races remaining, while Raikkonen is a further seven points adrift and struggling to end a winless streak dating back to the end of April.

"Today's been a great day for me," said Hamilton, who will be chasing his fifth win of the year on Sunday in a race that also marks the 40th anniversary of the team's first Formula One victory.

"The team made no mistakes and I made no mistakes."

Massa said he had been beaten fair and square: "I did a great lap, almost a perfect lap, but it wasn't enough," said the Brazilian. "Sometimes you do a great lap and you're still missing something."

Germany's Nick Heidfeld, under pressure from BMW-Sauber to raise his game, outqualified Polish team mate Robert Kubica for only the second time this season with fifth place on the starting grid.

Renault's double world champion Fernando Alonso, maintaining his 100 percent record of outqualifying Brazilian rookie team mate Nelson Piquet, joined Heidfeld on the third row with Australian Mark Webber seventh for Red Bull.

Kubica was eighth with the two Toro Rossos of Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais, who was surprisingly quickest after the first session, and young German Sebastian Vettel filling the fifth row.

McLaren, who suffered a Ferrari one-two at Spa last year, are celebrating the 40th anniversary of late founder Bruce McLaren's first grand prix win at the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix.

Date created : 2008-09-06