Vettel beats Button to Istanbul pole

vettelVettel snatches pole position from Brawn with a searing pace in Turkey.

The Red Bull driver, who blew his chances of pole a fortnight ago in Monaco, redeemed himself in Istanbul with an impressive lap time of 1:28.316 around the Istanbul Speed Park, enough to steal pole position away from championship leader Jenson Button.

“I expected more difficulties in qualifying but we made it,” Vettel said afterwards. “This is just half way and the main task for us comes tomorrow, it is a long race, very tough, it won’t be an easy one, it will be exciting, so let’s see.”

“It was a surprise to be quickest in all sessions. Finally we made it. In the last couple of races we tried hard and finally we are ahead of these white guys (Brawn). Everything is positive so we will see tomorrow.”

Vettel ran strongly throughout all three qualifying sessions and he drew first blood in the shoot out by dethroning Jarno Trulli on a 1:28.801. Neither Jenson Button or Rubens Barrichello, who had been struggling all weekend with a lack of grip were able to match that lap on their first attempts.

Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber momentarily held the top spot before being usurped by Button on his second flying lap with Barrichello slotting in behind in second place.

But a sensational last sector from Vettel clinched the deal for Red Bull putting him in P1 for the second time this season, and the third time in his career. Button and Barrichello are the meat in a Red Bull sandwich with Mark Webber lining up in fourth place. Fuel loads will be key to the outcome of Sunday’s race. Vettel is the lightest of the front runners with Brawn running longer into the race.

“Of course I would prefer to be on pole,” said Button, “but Sebastian did a great job. It was quite difficult to choose between the tyres today as their performance was quite similar.”

“The prime was a little too twitchy for my liking so I continued to run the option tyre for Q3 which had a more gradual and rolling feel. We will be trying very hard to change the statistic that everyone who has started from pole here has won the race!”

Jarno Trulli, who held the top spot in the early part of Q3, dropped to fifth place at the chequer, ahead of the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa who were unable to display the same kind of pace they demonstrated in Monaco.

“Honestly, I d expected to start higher up the grid, especially as we were pretty competitive in Q1 and Q2,” reflected Massa. “Starting from seventh, it becomes tough to aim for the top, so we have to be realistic. However, we mustn t forget this will be a long race and anything can happen. As usual, I will give it my best shot.”

Fernando Alonso had to settle for eighth place after spinning at Turn 8. The Spaniard just kept Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica at bay.

It was another miserable qualifying session for Lewis Hamilton. For the second weekend in a row – and only the second time in his career – the McLaren driver was knocked out of Q1 despite two flying laps in clean air in the closing stages.

It was another miserable qualifying session for Lewis Hamilton. For the second weekend in a row – and only the second time in his career – the McLaren driver was knocked out of Q1 despite two flying laps in clean air in the closing stages.

McLaren had hoped to see both their cars progress to the top ten shoot out after making significant upgrades to the MP4-24 to help it in the high speed corners.

But Hamilton was unable to muster the kind of pace needed to progress to Q2 as he wrestled his car around the undulating circuit, his rear end stepping out at almost every high speed corner. He starts fifteenth.

“Our car seems to have got slower relative to the others as the grip has gone down on the track,” said Hamilton afterwards. “I pushed as hard as I could today but I just had no grip out there. We now need to make sure we don t rush into making too many changes to the car for the forthcoming races: we ll take our time, refine things and sort out the problem with our car.”

Teammate Heikki Kovalainen faired better and was able to haul himself into Q2, but that was as much to do with the Finn’s affinity with the Istanbul Speed Park as it was the performance of his McLaren.

BMW Sauber finally seem to be making progress after ditching their KERS device and fitting a double diffuser to the F1.09. Robert Kubica dug deep and hauled himself into the top ten shoot-out, eventually pacing ninth quickest ahead of Nico Rosberg.

Heidfeld looked as though he would join his teamamte in the run-off but late flyers Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg dropped the German to eleventh of the grid.

Williams’ Kazuki Nakjima ran strongly in Q1 but was unable to muster the same pace as teammate Nico Rosberg in Q2. The Japanese will line up in twelfth place ahead of Toyota’s Timo Glock and Heikki Kovalainen.

Adrian Sutil put in a sterling performance in his Mercedes-powered Force India to progress to Q2. He starts the race fifteenth ahead of Lewis Hamilton – somewhat embarrassingly for Mercedes-Benz.

Nelson Piquet again failed to impress by spinning on his final flying lap to qualify seventeenth ahead of the man who punted him out of the Monaco Grand Prix Sebastian Buemi.

Toro Rosso have been struggling for pace all weekend and both Buemi and teammate Sebastian Bourdais were unable to make it count. The pair line up on the rear rows of the grid in eighteenth and nineteenth, sandwiching the Force India of Giancarlo Fisichella.

1       Sebastian Vettel        Red Bull        
2       Jenson Button           Brawn           
3       Rubens Barrichello      Brawn           
4       Mark Webber             Red Bull        
5       Fernando Alonso         Renault         
6       Jarno Trulli            Toyota          
7       Kimi Räikkönen          Ferrari         
8       Felipe Massa            Ferrari         
9       Robert Kubica           BMW     
10      Nico Rosberg            Williams        
11      Nick Heidfeld           BMW             
12      Kazuki Nakajima         Williams        
13      Timo Glock              Toyota          
14      Heikki Kovalainen       McLaren         
15      Adrian Sutil            Force India     
16      Lewis Hamilton          McLaren         
17      Nelson Piquet           Renault         
18      Sebastien Buemi         Toro Rosso      
19      Giancarlo Fisichella    Force India     
20      Sebastien Bourdais      Toro Rosso