Hamilton clinches pole position at Hockenheim

Britain's Lewis Hamilton clocked the fastest time in the final qualifying stage for the German GP. The McLaren Mercedes-Benz driver will set off in pole position Sunday, ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari.


Lewis Hamilton stayed cool Saturday after clocking the fastest lap in qualifying to grab pole position for Sunday's German Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old Briton thrilled his fans and the German supporters backing his McLaren Mercedes-Benz team by recording the best time in the final pole-position shootout session.

"That was cool, I'm feeling cool and all is good for us this weekend, but what really matters is the race on Sunday. Heikki (Kovalainen, his team-mate) and I are going to our best to make sure we get the result that counts."

Hamilton was fastest in both the second and third sessions to prove his superiority on a circuit he enjoys and will be bidding to win two races in succession Sunday for the first time this season.

He currently shares the leadership of the drivers' world championship with the Ferrari duo of defending champion Finn Kimi Raikkonen and Brazilian Felipe Massa.

His pole on Saturday was his third this season and the ninth of his career.

"My final lap went very smoothly," said Hamilton. "It felt great and I am so grateful to the team for the progress we have made with the car in the last few weeks.

"We have made some really significant steps and I am very confident, but we have to do the job. Everything seemed to go right for me today - but the wind was very strong and I felt it on blowing from the right and the left on the main straight."

He wound up fastest in the final session with a best time of one minute and 15.666 seconds and will start the race ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa in a Ferrari on the front row.

Defending drivers world champion Kimi Raikkonen of Finland ended up in sixth place for Ferrari after another troubled session.

Hamilton's Mclaren team-mate Kovalainen wound up third ahead of Italian Jarno Trulli in a Toyota, two times world champion Spaniard Fernando Alsono in a Renault and Raikkonen.

Pole Robert Kubica was seventh for BMW Sauber and Australian Mark Webber eighth for Red Bull.

Massa said: "I am glad things are back to normal after my terrible, really bad weekend at Silverstone. I don't know about the fuel loads but we are competitive again and that is most important."

Kovalainen said: "I had a few incidents and it felt a bit like I was a rally-cross driver sometimes, but in the end it was a good job. I enjoyed it and the car was great - we really have moved forward in the last four or five weeks."

The first mini-session in the qualifying hour saw the elimination of the two Force India cars driven by Italian Giancarlo Fisichella and German Adrian Sutil, Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello in his Honda, compatriot Nelson Piquet in a Renault and Japanese Kazuki Nakajima in a Williams.

In dry, but cloudy and changeable-looking conditions, the two Ferraris were fast, but in the second session it was their main rival Hamilton in his McLaren who set the pace ahead of Massa.

This session was packed with desperate late action and ended with the loss of German Timo Glock in a Toyota, Briton Jenson Button in his Honda, Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais, in a Toro Rosso, German Nick Heidfeld in his BMW Sauber and German-born Nico Rosberg of Williams.

Three German drivers out meant only 21-year-old Sebastian Vettel made it into the pole-position shootout in the final session and made it count with ninth place on the grid ahead of Briton David Coulthard in the second Red Bull.

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