Hamilton takes pole for German F1 Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton claimed the ninth pole position of his career Saturday as the McLaren-Mercedes driver qualified fastest for Sunday's German Formula One Grand Prix.

Hamilton registered a time of 1 minute 15.666 seconds on the 4.574-kilometre Hockenheim circuit to finish ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who clocked a time of 1:15.859.

Heikki Kovalainen was third fastest in the second McLaren while Toyota's Jarno Trulli will start from fourth on the grid after putting in a stunning drive.

"I knew I had it in me, I knew I had the pace, I am quite cool," said Hamilton.

"It has been very windy, you notice it down the back straight - when you get to stadium and then suddenly you have a big gust of wind."

Hamilton is coming off a superb win in the British home GP of Mclaren that drew him level on 48 points with Massa and his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen at the top of the championship standings.

He complimented his team before adding that he felt Sunday's race, another home event due to to Mercedes, would be quite tight.

"I am surprised how close all the teams were," he said. "Between Ferrari and McLaren it is a tenth (of a second) here or there but we have the pace to win."

Massa, for his part, said he found qualifying "very tough" but that both sides would only know how strong they were on Sunday when it became clear how much fuel each car was carrying.

"It is very competitive between McLaren and Ferrari and it will be a big competition between the four cars. Hopefully we will do everything right in the race," said the Brazilian.

Kovalainen said he was very happy with his third place, not least because he went off track in the final session.

"The car has been performing really well last the five or six weeks. We have made significant steps forward," said the Finn, who took the first pole of his career at the last F1 race at Silverstone.

Renault's Fernando Alonso qualified in fifth spot followed by the defending world champion Raikkonen, who appeared to struggle throughout the session in his Ferrari.

Robert Kubica of BMW-Sauber, who sits two points behind the leaders in the driver's standings, starts from seventh on the grid alongside Red Bull's Mark Webber while Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel and David Coulthard in the second Red Bull complete the top 10.

Nick Heidfeld in the second BMW-Sauber will start from 12th on the grid behind Toyota's Timo Glock after a mistake in the second qualifying round saw the German fail to make it to the final round, dpa reported.

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