Massa takes Sepang pole

Massa: Pole for second successive year in Sepang

Hamilton has to settle for fourth spot on the grid for Sunday's race

Felipe Massa came out on top in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix, as Ferrari laid down a warning to their rivals by clinching the front row.

The Brazilian put in a blistering late lap to take pole position for the second successive season in Sepang.

McLaren pair Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton were in third and fourth respectively on the grid.

After winning the 2008 opener in Australia last weekend, Hamilton seemed to struggle with braking all the way through the session.

Timely boost

Massa's time of 1:35.748 was almost half a second ahead of team-mate and defending world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

The performances of the duo gave a welcome boost to the team and its supporters following its worst start to a campaign in 16 years.

Both drivers were forced to retire in Melbourne, though Raikkonen picked up one championship point when he was classified in eighth place.

Toyota's Jarno Trulli produced an impressive performance to take fifth ahead of the BMW Sauber duo of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld.

Mark Webber qualified eighth for Red Bull, Renault's Fernando Alonso coming next in ninth with Timo Glock rounding out the top 10 on an excellent day for Toyota.

Button blow

Jenson Button just missed out on the chance to take part in Qualifying Three. He will start in 11th on the same row as David Coulthard.

Neither Williams driver managed to get beyond Qualifying Two. Nico Rosberg, who finished third Down Under, had to make do with 16th.

Kazuki Nakajima faired even worse, failing to get beyond the opening session. Anthony Davidson will start from the very back of the grid in his Super Aguri.

The threat of rain failed to materialise throughout the session. The forecast suggests wet weather will be around during Sunday's race.

01 F. Massa Ferrari 1:35.748
02 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:36.230
03 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:36.613
04 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:36.709
05 J. Trulli Toyota 1:36.711
06 R. Kubica BMW 1:36.727
07 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:36.753
08 M. Webber Red Bull 1:37.009
09 F. Alonso Renault 1:38.450
10 T. Glock Toyota 1:39.656
11 J. Button Honda 1:35.208
12 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:35.408
13 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:35.562
14 R. Barrichello Honda 1:35.622
15 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:35.648
16 N. Rosberg Williams 1:35.670
17 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:36.240
18 K. Nakajima Williams 1:36.388
19 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:36.677
20 T. Sato Super Aguri 1:37.087
21 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:37.101
22 A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:37.481