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Massa heads Ferrari front row in Malaysia

  • Story Highlights
  • Felipe Massa is on pole position for Sunday's Malyasia Grand Prix at Sepang
  • The Brazilian leads Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen on the starting grid
  • McLaren pair of Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton are demoted five places
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SEPANG, Malaysia -- Felipe Massa will head an all-Ferrari front row after the Brazilian took pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang on Sunday.

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Massa gives the thumbs-up after setting the fastest time in Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying.

Massa's time of one minute 35.748 seconds beat world champion and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen by nearly half a second.

However, McLaren pair Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton, who were initially third and fourth on the grid, were dropped five places after the duo were found guilty of impeding Nick Heidfeld and Fernando Alonso.

The incident occurred when both drivers slowed down after crossing the line with just seconds left of qualifying.

By remaining on the racing line, they were adjudged to have impeded Heidfeld and Alonso, who were starting their final flying laps. Hamilton will now begin the 56-lap race from ninth place, while Kovalainen will start in eighth.

The pair were asked to report to stewards after an angry Heidfeld, who qualified seventh, complained to race officials at the conclusion of the session.

Hamilton was subsequently found guilty of impeding the BMW Sauber driver by 'travelling at a very slow speed on the racing line', while Kovalainen was also charged with committing the same offence against the German and Renault driver Alonso.

But Hamilton felt he was not at fault although he did apologise to Heidfeld. "I was pretty much out of the way," he said upon emerging from the meeting. "If I held him up then I apologise for that."

McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh also defended both drivers, insisting they did the best they could under the circumstances. "There was clearly an issue there and it's unfortunate," he said.

"If you look at the footage, our guys squeezed in as much as they could and slowed and we don't think they impaired Nick.

"He complained to the stewards. Nick was in fact quickest in all three sectors on that lap and I don't think he was unduly impaired, but I can understand his view that having all of those cars around when you're trying to concentrate on a quick lap isn't ideal.

"Neither of our drivers did it intentionally and did what they could to squeeze over and allow Nick and Fernando to do their quick laps."

However, a clearly frustrated Heidfeld refuted their explanation, insisting McLaren's actions cost him third place on the grid.

"If they did the best that they could do, they didn't do very well," he said. "I was approaching my last lap on the option tyre and it would have been my quickest lap if not for the McLarens driving in the middle of the racing line at 80kph.

"I lost time. I made the corner but it cost me one and a half tenths for sure. It's pretty dangerous as well, other cars were moving pretty slowly but they were off line. The McLarens were just before or in the braking zone so it was difficult to find my braking point."

Jarno Trulli will now start an impressive third for Toyota, while Robert Kubica takes fourth for BMW Sauber with team-mate Heidfeld fifth. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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