Felipe Massa ensured there would be no repeat of the shenanigans that overshadowed qualifying in Hungary by claiming his second Turkish Grand Prix pole position at the end of a remarkably close session for Ferrari and McLaren.

Interestingly, the one driver of the 'big four' that had not experienced a stint at the top of the timesheets through practice and qualifying, Massa nonetheless produced a fine lap when it mattered to deny what many had expected to be a pole position for his team-mate instead.

Indeed, Raikkonen had all but looked to be on course for the top spot when he lit up the timing screens with two 'purple' sectors, but ruined his hopes when he made a mistake on the penultimate bend and ran wide, the two tenths he lost enough to leave him a frustrated third.

With Raikkonen unable to improve on the time he managed on his first set of tyres, the emphasis was now on the remaining trio behind as they raced towards the finish line in the hope of making the most of the Finn's failure.

Next through was Hamilton, who created a flurry of excitement in the McLaren garage when he banged in a lap faster than Massa, who at this point was on provisional pole position already thanks to a solid performance on the first set of tyres. However, that joy was all too brief when the Brazilian just a few metres behind surged over the line a mere five hundredths of a second up on the Brit.

Pole position was his, so long as Alonso, who went into the top ten shootout having pulled out the fastest lap of the weekend in the second phase of qualifying, could not improve.

Luckily for the Brazilian though, Alonso had gambled by bolting on the harder option tyres, compared to his adversaries who were confident the fast times were to be made on the soft rubber. However, the risk failed to pay off for the Spaniard, crossing the line three tenths slower than Massa and left behind in fourth.

Coming twelve months after Massa produced his first ever pole position around the sweeping Turkish circuit, ironically because team-mate Michael Schumacher had made a mistake on his fastest lap too, the Brazilian went on to win his maiden race come Sunday - a feat he is no doubt looking to repeat this year as he bids to reignite his title hopes.

Away from the feuding foursome, Robert Kubica will start a marvellous fifth after out pacing team-mate Nick Heidfeld throughout the knockout phases before producing a lap just two tenths slower than that of Alonso just ahead. Such is the gap back to the remainder of the field though, Heidfeld will still start sixth, despite being a solid three tenths behind his Polish BMW team-mate.

In addition, Heikki Kovalainen got the better of Renault team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella, the Finn consistently featuring inside the top ten throughout the weekend and duly translating that into a seventh place starting position. Fisichella will start tenth, albeit likely carrying a healthy amount of fuel on board.

Between them, Nico Rosberg - having only just scraped into the top ten shootout - recovered to score eighth on the grid, although Williams are likely to be disappointed with their final result after heading into qualifying looking somewhat stronger than they turned out.

Rosberg was just ahead of Jarno Trulli, who maintained Toyota's impressive top ten qualifying record, despite Ralf Schumacher's best attempts earlier in the session.

Indeed, Schumacher was the surprise casualty of the first knockout phase, the German having confidently boasted of a solid top ten starting position when he emerged as being amongst the pace setters during free practice. However, a lack of balance on his best laps condemned him to 18th on the grid, making it the fourth time this season he has failed to make Q2.

He was joined out on the sidelines by Vitantonio Liuzzi, who had looked to have done enough to qualify with his last gasp lap, only for Rubens Barrichello to avoid repeating the embarrassment of failing to qualify in Hungary by popping up into the safety zone. Still, Liuzzi was again comfortably ahead of Sebastian Vettel, the German down in 20th. Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto meanwhile assumed their usual slots on the back row after another typically leery session as they attempted to extract more pace from the handful of a Spyker car.

The other failure to qualify in 19th position was Takuma Sato, but his disappointment was matched by jubilation for the Super Aguri team after Anthony Davidson pulled a stunner of a lap out of the bag whilst sat in the drop zone and hauled himself up into the top ten.

With the times neutralised again, the important second phase of qualifying got underway, with all but the big three of McLaren, Ferrari and BMW likely to be fighting for a spot inside the top ten.

Indeed, with the top trio safely through with their one and only rapid single laps, the remainder of the field were left to dispute seventh down to 16th and, typically, there was very little to separate them.

Flashing across the line one-by-one, the timing screens jumped constantly as new laps were posted before it revealed those would fail to make it through would be Davidson in 11th, Red Bull duo Mark Webber and David Coulthard in 12th and 13th, Honda pairing Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button 14th and 15th and finally Alex Wurz in 16th position.

Davidson was the story of the session though again, the Brit once more managing to throw his Aguri-Honda at the apexs so effectively that it briefly looked as though he might just sneak into the top ten for the first time. However, while his lap, which included one of the fastest final sectors of the session, had him up to eighth briefly, Giancarlo Fisichella, Nico Rosberg and finally Jarno Trulli would eventually bump him onto the cusp and ultimately spoil the headline.

To view the full qualifying times for the Turkish Grand Prix click here

 

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