Ferrari is adamant that Felipe Massa did not run ridiculously light in qualifying in order to guarantee pole position for the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix this weekend – despite the Brazilian's searing margin of dominance at the end of the session.
The 27-year-old – who trails Formula 1 World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton by just a single point entering the final four races of the 2008 campaign, as the pair battle it out tooth-and-nail for the drivers' crown – had looked to be on the back foot compared to his McLaren-Mercedes rival throughout both practice and Q1 around the all-new Marina Bay Street Circuit.
A scintillating final effort in Q3, however, proved enough to blow all of his competitors out of the water as Massa stormed to the top spot with almost seven tenths of a second to spare.
Though the São Paulista subsequently admitted he could 'maybe have run with slightly more fuel' [see separate story – click here
], his engineer Rob Smedley suggested the gap was the result of both a perfect lap from his driver and Hamilton's inability to do likewise – rather than a ploy to seize pole around a track that is expected to offer precious few overtaking opportunities on race day.
“We hope we have done the right thing with the strategy,” Smedley told ITV
. “We think we have. We haven't gone silly to try and get the pole position – he has just put it all together.”
Whilst remaining confident in his own strategy, Hamilton fears that he could be in for a repeat of the European Grand Prix in Valencia last month – a race in which Massa was always just one step out of reach.
“It's unlikely to be able to overtake,” the 23-year-old confessed, “so we might see another Valencia.”