Hamilton in pole position

In-form Lewis Hamilton grabbed the ninth pole position of his Formula One career ahead of tomorrow's German Grand Prix.

Flying high from his British Grand Prix triumph 13 days ago, the 23-year-old McLaren star snatched top spot on the grid by just under 0.2 seconds from Ferrari's Felipe Massa at Hockenheim.

Hamilton has so far been outstanding around this circuit, and he is now poised to grab the outright lead in the world championship if he can follow up with victory tomorrow.

The threat of rain had hung heavy in the air before the start, but despite one sharp shower 15 minutes ahead of the pit lane opening, it failed to arrive and so shake up the grid.

It means Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen starts from third, followed by a stunning fourth for Jarno Trulli in his Toyota.

Renault's Fernando Alonso heads the third row in fifth, with Kimi Raikkonen a lowly sixth in his Ferrari as he has so far failed to hook up his car around this track.

Behind Raikkonen come BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, with the Red Bull duo of Mark Webber and David Coulthard sandwiching the Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel in eighth and 10th.

After the 15-minute Q2, Toyota's Timo Glock missed out on a place in the top 10 by just 0.027secs and will start 11th.

Another German in BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld disappointed his army of fans by failing to make it into Q3 for the third time this year.

Nico Rosberg starts 13th in his Williams, followed by Jenson Button in his Honda, an improvement of late as he had failed to make Q2 in his previous three grands prix.

A mistake by Sebastien Bourdais on his final hot lap in the session as he ran wide at turn two means the Frenchman lines up 15th in his Toro Rosso.

Falling by the wayside after Q1 were Williams' Kazuki Nakajima, who will start 16th, and Renault's Nelson Piquet who is 17th.

However, Piquet complained over the team radio after Q1 that Vettel had crossed his driving line late on on his final lap and a protest should be launched.

Rubens Barrichello, who has struggled in qualifying of late, is in a lowly 18th, failing to make Q2 for the third successive occasion.

No prizes for guessing the last two on the grid, with Adrian Sutil edging out his Force India team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella, leaving the veteran Italian at the rear.

A happy Hamilton said: "It's quite cool coming here to Germany.

"I've had some great races here, but not just here but also at the Nurburgring as well.

"Driving into the stadium it's a bit like a football crowd, but the support means a lot and I'm really grateful.

"I feel pretty chilled and happy with what we've done so far, but it's tomorrow that counts and when Heikki and I have to do the best job possible.

"I feel we have the pace, so we will keep on pushing."

Massa remarked the qualifying session was "tough and tight", adding: "We don't know how much fuel everybody has.

"But it is competitive between Ferrari and McLaren, so the race will be a big competition.

"That's potentially very exciting, but we have to do everything right in the race."

Following his horror show at a wet Silverstone when he spun five times in the race, Massa dismissed suggestions his qualifying form was a recovery.

"I know I'm quick, even in the wet," countered Massa.

"I don't believe what people say that I'm not good in the wet, and I know I've not forgotten how to drive in the wet in F1. I just had a bad weekend.

"So far this has just been a normal weekend, showing we are competitive."

Kovalainen, who had run onto the dirt at the Agip Kurve on his first hot lap, was pleased with his showing.

"Our car has been in form for the last four or five weeks, and in qualifying the car felt the best it has all week," he said.

"But in my first lap on Q3 I lost the rear end and went wide. I just went too deep into the corner, and there was a little bit of damage.

"I also ran a bit wide at the final turn on my second lap, so given all those rally-cross moments, I didn't do too bad."

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