Felipe Massa backed up his words that should he emerge victorious in this year's Formula 1 World Championship he will be a worthy title-winner, by blitzing the field to record pole position for the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix this weekend.
The Ferrari star put almost seven tenths of a second between himself and his chief rival for the crown, McLaren-Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, as the pair prepare to battle tooth-and-nail for the honour of triumphing in the first night race to be held in the sport's 58-year history.
Adrian Sutil – whose team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella had come heavily into contact with the wall in morning practice after his Force India bounced across the circuit's harsh, unforgiving kerbs at the chicane – was the first man out on-track in Q1. The Italian's car, meanwhile, was still being worked on as the session dawned.
Kimi Raikkonen was perhaps a surprise early appearance in Q1, the defending F1 World Champion having similarly gone off earlier in practice and looking to turn around a three-race non-scoring streak at the all-new Marina Bay Street Circuit this weekend.
Timo Glock, a troubled David Coulthard, Kazuki Nakajima, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello were also quick to show their hands, with Raikkonen's poor opening salvo seeing the Finn lap just sixth-quickest, ahead of only Sutil.
Heikki Kovalainen soon blew Glock's fastest effort out of the water, with Massa sitting just third – behind the Toyota – before the sport's newest winner Sebastian Vettel went P1 again, only to be just as rapidly displaced by Hamilton, as McLaren-Mercedes assertively threw down the gauntlet to rivals Ferrari.
Practice pace-setter Fernando Alonso was next out – lapping a fraction under half a second shy of Hamilton's mega lap, and slower than he had gone in the morning – whilst with half of Q1 left to go the two scarlet machines sat incredibly just eighth and 13th on the timing screens.
Coulthard, Sébastien Bourdais, Button – surprisingly – Sutil and Fisichella at this stage sat in the drop zone, as no one seemed able to hold a candle to Hamilton up front, and a clearly frustrated Barrichello found a pitting Nick Heidfeld right in his way as the experienced Brazilian came up to complete his lap – corroborating drivers' earlier concerns that the racing line entry to the pit-lane is 'dangerous' [see separate story – click here
An improvement from Button, meanwhile, pushed Raikkonen
into the Q1 drop, with the sister F2008 of Massa only four spots further up the order in twelfth. With Hamilton electing not to go out again, Kovalainen took a further two tenths of a second off the target time, setting the quickest lap of the weekend to-date.