Webber takes Pole in Turkey

Mark Webber continued Red Bull’s dominance of qualifying in 2010, with his third pole position in as many race weekends.

The Australian managed to fend off a last lap charge from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton to put himself in the box seat for victory in tomorrow’s Turkish Grand Prix. Following his effort Webber was full of praise for his team, as Red Bull secured its seventh straight pole position in 2010.

“It is a great record, it shows tremendous pace in the car and we have been to a lot of different venues now,” he said.

“We are still a quick team, that is a big feather in our cap. It is a real credential to the whole team that we can come to each track and be strong. We have had a good run of it of late, and we need to get better on Sundays so we have done it in the last few races and that is what team’s focus will be on tomorrow.”

Red Bull and McLaren also locked out the second row of the grid with Sebastian Vettel in third and Jenson Button in fourth. The former found himself around a half a second off his pole sitting team-mate after suffering brake problems during his final run.

“The first lap was brilliant up until Turn 12 and under braking I slightly locked the front, but that was no issue. Then it was weird because the front kept locking and never came back,” is quoted as saying by Autosport.com

“After Turn 12 and Turn 13 the wheel turned again, and then the same again, I locked the inside wheel easily and the car didn’t stop, I went straight and lost a bit of time. Otherwise it should easily have been a lot quicker. It is obviously very strange.

“I’m happy to be third, and lucky to not be fourth – it is a long race tomorrow but with this year’s regulations and no more fuel pitstops it is difficult to make up places.”

Michael Schumacher, despite spinning out at the end of Q3, and Nico Rosberg find themselves in fifth and sixth respectively – although both drivers were unable to challenge the leading cars throughout the session.

Although Ferrari’s Felipe Massa managed to qualify in eighth position, qualifying proved to be a disaster for team-mate Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard was eliminated in Q2 after making a costly mistake during his final qualifying run. As a result the 28-year-old will face an uphill struggle during tomorrow’s Grand Prix from twelfth on the grid.

“I don’t know [what happened]. I didn’t think we were so slow,” Alonso told Spanish television after his exit in Q2.

“We struggled in Q1, ninth and tenth, and then in Q2 we couldn’t improve the time by much and we were out. By a tenth, but that’s the way it is. We have to improve and we know it.

“We’ve been practising starts from the clean and the dirty side and saw there’s a difference of one position when you start from the dirty side. When I crossed the line they told me I was 11th so I thought tomorrow at the start I would gain places, but from 12th I may even lose some positions, so it’s going to be difficult.

“Let’s hope we can improve and pick up as many points as possible tomorrow.”

Q1

With a track temperature of 39 degrees Formula One’s twelve teams geared up for the opening segment of qualifying for the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix.

Although the Istanbul park has never been an out and out fan favourite, the circuit itself remains a gruelling challenge for the drivers and today’s qualifying session would be no different. An added element saw a change in the direction of the wind from a headwind at turn 12 to a tailwind.

Prior to the session, many pondered if would be Red Bull be able to maximise their obvious speed advantage to lock out the front row of the grid. However, as shown in the earlier practice where both drivers had a number of offs, nothing was assured for the Milton Keynes outfit.

As has become customary in Q1 this season, the various drivers of Formula One’s new boys were the first to take to the track. They were followed out by Adrian Sutil who was trying to make up for lost time, after a hydraulic leak forced him out of Practice 3.

Initially the new teams set a time around the high 1 minute 31 second mark which was soon bettered by Sutil with a 1:30.433.

First of the big guns to set a time was the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso, who eclipsed Sutil’s time by well over two and a quarter seconds.

With around thirteen minutes to go it was Jenson Button’s turn to top the time sheets with a 1:27.780 (one tenth ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull did not emerge to set a fast lap until around eleven minutes of the session had passed. Ultimately Vettel and Webber flattered to deceive, as the formers time was only good enough for third, with the latters sixth.

However on their second efforts both drivers unleashed their speed to lock out the top of the table – Vettel’s time nearly half a second quicker than his team-mate.

One notable star of the opening segment was Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, who spectacularly slid his car out of the final set of corners to go fourth, with around two minutes remaining.

The session featured little driver errors, with the Force India of Tonio Liuzzi running wide half way through the twenty minute session. The Italian driver failed to recover from this excursion for the majority of the session and remained marooned in the drop zone alongside the new entrants.

So at the end of Q1 those eliminated were:

18th. Liuzzi (Force india)
19th. Jarno Trulli (Lotus)
20th. Kovalainen (Lotus)
21st. Glock (Virgin)
22nd. Senna (Hispania)
23rd. Di Grassi (Virgin)
24th. Chandhok (Hispania)

Q2

Straight out of the box was Robert Kubica who was aiming to maintain his strong start to the season. The Pole was first to set a time with a 1:27.487, but this was immediately trumphed by Sebastian Vettel who lowered the bar by yet another three tenths.

With around ten minutes remaining Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap of the weekend so far with a 1:27.013.

Vettel would soon eclipse the McLaren driver’s time and become the first man to venture into the high 1 minute 26s.

In third place was Webber in the sister RB6, with Button in fourth.

Meanwhile, Vitaly Petrov appeared to growing in even more confidence as he set the fifth fastest time ahead of his Renault team-mate Kubica.

Although Liuzzi was the first real casualty of qualifying, Adrian Sutil made sure that Force India still had a shot at getting into Q3.

With around four minutes to go the order was soon to change, with the likes of Alonso (Ferrari) and Rosberg (Mercedes) languishing in the knockout zone.

However, Fernando Alonso’s first attempt to get into Q3 was spoiled when the Spaniard touched the white line at turn twelve and his car run wide. 

The Spaniard’s second attempt proved to be equally disastrous with the Ferrari driver only managing to set the twelfth fastest time. A disaster for the former double-world champion, especially on the weekend of Ferrari’s 800th race.

This allowed the Sauber of Kobayashi to sneak into the top ten shoot out, painting over the previous mistakes that he has made in earlier qualifying rounds.

So at the end of Q2 those eliminated were:

11th. Sutil (Force India)
12th. Alonso (Ferrari)
13th. De La Rosa (Sauber)
14th. Buemi (Toro Rosso)
15th. Barrichello (Williams)
16th. Alguersuari (Toro Rosso)
17th. Hulkenberg (Williams)

Q3

Following Alonso’s shocking exit from qualifying, the remaining drivers geared themselves for the top-ten shootout.

One man who would have rubbed his hands with glee was Alonso’s team-mate Felipe Massa, who made it into the final segment of qualifying in the F10. The Brazilian has won three of the past five Turkish Grands Prix and was hoping to claim a strong grid position to reignite his title challenge.

However, the Ferrari driver would be no match for either McLaren or Red Bull drivers, with all four of them locking out the first two rows with just over five minutes remaining.

Mark Webber was looking for his third successive pole position, and the Austalian found himself top of the leading pack with a mid 1 minute 26 seconds – followed closely by Hamilton, team-mate Vettel and Jenson Button.

However, the 33-year-old’s position was far from secure as the drivers emerged for their final qualifying run.

As the end of the session drew to a close, would McLaren be able to stop Red Bull’s dominance of qualifying in 2010, or would the Milton Keynes-based team march on?

Provisional pole sitter Webber would be the first man to attempt to improve his time. The Australian duly improved his time by two tenths of a second to stay on top, as a late challenge from Lewis Hamilton failed to materialise. Although the British driver manage to better Webber’s time in the first and final sectors, he could not challenge the RB6 in the middle part of the lap – finding himself around 0.138 adift in second.

Meanwhile Vettel (3rd) and Button (4th) abandoned their final qualifying attempts when it was clear that they could not improve.

Michael Schumacher ended up in fifth, although the seven-times champion found himself beached in the gravel trap on the exit of turn 8 after spinning on his final run.

Mercedes GP team-mate Nico Rosberg was right behind in sixth with Robert Kubica seventh and Felipe Massa eighth.

Vitaly Petrov and Kamui Kobayashi rounded out the top ten.

So Mark Webber will line up on pole for tomorrow’s race. The World Championship leader will be hoping to take his third victory of the year, but is bound to face a fierce challenge from the likes of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

Pos  Driver         Team         Q1        Q2        Q3
1.   Webber         Red Bull     1:27.500  1:26.818  1:26.295
2.   Hamilton       McLaren      1:27.667  1:27.013  1:26.433
3.   Vettel         Red Bull     1:27.067  1:26.729  1:26.760
4.   Button         McLaren      1:27.555  1:27.277  1:26.781
5.   Schumacher     Mercedes     1:27.756  1:27.438  1:26.857
6.   Rosberg        Mercedes     1:27.649  1:27.141  1:26.952
7.   Kubica         Renault      1:27.766  1:27.426  1:27.039
8.   Massa          Ferrari      1:27.993  1:27.200  1:27.082
9.   Petrov         Renault      1:27.620  1:27.387  1:27.430
10.  Kobayashi      Sauber       1:28.158  1:27.434  1:28.122
11.  Sutil          Force India  1:27.951  1:27.525
12.  Alonso         Ferrari      1:27.857  1:27.612
13.  de la Rosa     Sauber       1:28.147  1:27.879
14.  Buemi          Toro Rosso   1:28.534  1:28.273
15.  Barrichello    Williams     1:28.336  1:28.392
16.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso   1:28.460  1:28.540
17.  Hulkenberg     Williams     1:28.227  1:28.841
18.  Liuzzi         Force India  1:28.958
19.  Trulli         Lotus        1:30.237
20.  Kovalainen     Lotus        1:30.519
21.  Glock          Virgin       1:30.744
22.  Senna          HRT          1:31.266
23.  di Grassi      Virgin       1:31.989
24.  Chandhok       HRT          1:32.060