Felipe Massa has lauded 'a fantastic lap in a fantastic car' after storming to a dominant pole position for the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix this weekend – then mused that perhaps, given his margin of superiority, he 'could have run with slightly more fuel'.
Having trailed McLaren-Mercedes Formula 1 World Championship rival Lewis Hamilton throughout practice and the opening phase of qualifying, both Massa and Ferrari looked to be on the back foot, but the fastest lap time in Q2 served a small notice of just how much the Brazilian had been keeping in reserve.
Rapidly marking himself out as the top flight's street circuit specialist – having also annexed the top spot on the starting grid in both Monaco and Valencia this season – Massa responded to Hamilton's late pole charge in Q3 by taking almost seven tenths of a second off the Briton's time with a breathtaking final effort.
Though he admitted afterwards that he would likely still have been on pole with more fuel in his F2008, the 27-year-old insisted he was confident in his race strategy.
“I did a fantastic lap in a fantastic car and it was possibly my best qualifying of the season,” the ten-time grand prix winner enthused of his fifth pole of the campaign and Ferrari's seventh. “Given my margin over the others, with hindsight it's easy to say maybe I could have run with slightly more fuel, but we firmly believe we have a very competitive strategy.
“At every corner and every braking point I tried to get the most out of the car, and I think I managed it. The harder tyres have seemed better since yesterday, and that's why we went in that direction.
“The track is very difficult and requires total concentration lap after lap, because there is no room for error – it's much harder here than in Monaco. I'm pleased to be the first driver to be on pole for this grand prix, taking place in such a special and unusual atmosphere. I hope I can do even better tomorrow.”
Massa's sentiments were echoed by both the Maranello-based concern's team principal Stefano Domenicali and technical director Luca Baldisserri, who know that the Scuderia
has scored an important psychological point in the Far Eastern city-state in its fraught battle for glory with the Silver Arrows.
“A great result this evening, but it is only the first step towards achieving our objective for this weekend,” underlined a characteristically cautious Domenicali. “Felipe produced a fantastic lap and the F2008 confirmed that it is competitive in qualifying, with half this season's poles going to our drivers.
“Now we must not get over-excited but keep our feet firmly on the ground. Tomorrow should see a long race, riddled with difficulties. In order to win, everything will need to be executed perfectly, right down to the smallest detail.”
“It was an exciting qualifying session,” concurred Baldisserri, “set against a really unique backdrop. On a track with so many twists and turns, Felipe was the only one to put together the perfect lap in Q3 and his gap to the others is the proof of that. Tomorrow we must not lose concentration for a moment, because it's going to be a very long race full of potential pitfalls.”