Turkish GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report

Red Bull locks out Istanbul front row

Sebastian Vettel, Turkish GP 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Turkish GP 2011 

 © The Cahier Archive

Red Bull Racing made a clean sweep of the front row of the grid for the Turkish Grand Prix with Sebastian Vettel (1:25.049) looking dominant throughout and claiming a 19th career pole.

Vettel and team mate Mark Webber (1:25.454) gambled on just one run in Q3 to save a set of soft tyres for the race. Vettel looked out of reach but Webber less so and the Australian had to sweat it out as Nico Rosberg (1:25.574) failed by just over a tenth of a second to knock him off the front row. Rosberg too, went just the once in Q3 but elected to run at the end of the session rather than early on, causing the anxious moments at Red Bull.

"Apologies to the team and mechanics for damaging the car yesterday," Vettel smiled. "They fixed it for today and we have been there since this morning and have done a good job. I had a bit to catch up but I like the track and could find the rhythm quickly. It was not 100% smooth day today but Mark and I decided to skip the second run and it's a strange feeling sitting watching with the others out on the track trying to beat you, but it worked out."

For Webber, missing those four tenths, it was a bigger gamble. "I'd have liked another couple of tenths in hand," he admitted. "We spoke about it before qualifying, that tomorrow is going to be a pretty long race. Now we're in the best shape we could be - you can't get through with any less tyres than that. There's pluses and minuses in going early or late in Q3. If you run at the end there may be a bit of time in the track but if you make a mistake or there's a yellow flag, you don't get another chance."

Lewis Hamilton (1:25.595) was fourth, just two hundredths behind Rosberg but with a quarter of a second in hand over a more competitive qualifying performance than expected from Fernando Alonso (1:25.851) on the evidence of free practice. The Spaniard has now qualified fifth fastest for every Grand Prix this year.

Jenson Button (1:25.982) was four tenths away from team mate Hamilton and lines up sixth, with a further three tenths in hand over Vitaly Petrov's Renault (1:26.296). Schumacher (1:26.646), like Rosberg, elected to do just one run at the end of Q3 and beat Nick Heidfeld by a hundredth of a second.

Felipe Massa's session was interesting. Three times a winner here, the Brazilian went out in Q1 on a set of option tyres, which seemed odd given that Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber had a fuel pump failure and looked unlikely to run, and there was plenty in hand over Lotus, Virgin and HRT. From that point on Massa was a set of tyres down on his rivals. He recovered the deficit by not running at all in Q3, and hence starts 10th.

In spite of the trials and tribulations at Williams, Turkey looks more positive for the team with Rubens Barrichello only bumped out of Q3 in the final seconds when Heidfeld pipped his Q2 time by a couple of hundredths. Rubens (1:26.764) and the FW33 therefore start 11th, ahead of the Force Indias, as Adrian Sutil (1:27.027) outqualified rookie team mate Paul Di Resta (1:27.145) for the first time this year.

Further down, Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus pace (1: 28.780) was well clear of team mate Jarno Trulli, who had problems to contend with, including a non-working DRS system. Jerome D'Ambrosio (1:30.445) outqualified Virgin racing team mate Timo Glock (1:30.813) as Tonio Liuzzi (1:30.692) managed to split them with the first of the HRTs.


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