Mark Webber has set a hat-trick of pole positions, and will line up on the front row with Lewis Hamilton alongside him, with the McLaren driver successfully splitting the Red Bull pairing of Webber and Sebastian Vettel for front-row honours.
Having once been regarded as something of a qualifying master, Webber’s fortunes took a batter in his first season alongside Vettel last year, where he was comprehensively trounced in the qualifying stakes. It looked initially like 2010 would be more of the same with Vettel holding a 3-1 lead before the Spanish Grand Prix three weeks’ ago, but the scorecard now reads 4-3 in Webber’s favour!
It was in some ways an afternoon of surprises, as the charge that many expected and hoped for from Ferrari never eventuated, with Felipe Massa lining up 8th and Fernando Alonso embarrassingly failing to make it into Q3 – this in Ferrari’s 800th Grand Prix appearance…
At the pointy end of the grid, it was Webber who proved quicker than anybody in both of his Q3 runs, lowering his initial time of 1:26.510 to 1:26.295 on his final run in a bid to stave off a late challenge from the menacing Lewis Hamilton, who showed an excellent turn of pace in the Mercedes-powered MP4-25.
Sebastian Vettel will no doubt feel that he should have locked out the front row with Webber – if not taken pole position altogether – and would have been a more considerable threat had he not overcooked it under braking into Turn 1 on his final run, costing himself over half a second as he slid wide onto the Astroturf at the exit of the corner. The German will line up in third place, one better than Jenson Button, who starts fourth.
It’s an all-Mercedes third row, with Michael Schumacher outperforming Nico Rosberg despite sliding off into the Turn 8 gravel as he attempted one final tilt at the timesheets in Q3.
It was a positive day for Renault made all the better by getting both Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov together into Q3 for the first time this season, with both men seemingly performing beyond the perceived limitations of their R30 cars this weekend. Lining up seventh and ninth respectively, they sandwich Felipe Massa on the grid.
The final Q3 runner was a surprised Kamui Kobayashi, but the Japanese driver used up virtually his entire tyre allocation trying to squeeze into Q3 and was not a factor in his attempt at posting a competitive time in Q3.
Fernando Alonso’s departure at the end of Q2 was a huge shock to many, and in trying to move himself back into contention for making Q3, he fluffed it under braking at the end of the back straight. Despite having one further opportunity to post a quicker time before the clock ran out, he couldn’t improve by enough and will start from 12th on the grid.
Force India’s Adrian Sutil also missed out on a Q3 berth by dint of Kobayashi’s last-minute time in Q2 and will start in 11th place, two places ahead of the other Sauber of Pedro de la Rosa.
Despite making it into Q2, both Williams and Toro Rosso cars were not a factor in the second stage of qualifying and will occupy positions 14 through 17 on the grid.
Vitantonio Liuzzi was embarrassingly the one guy not to make it into Q2 outside of the six rookie-team drivers, and this will raise further questions and speculation about the longevity of his seat, with the seemingly quicker Paul di Resta waiting in the wings. Qualifying pace is certainly not proving to be a Liuzzi strength of late, and he will need to deliver a mighty drive to challenge for the lower reaches opf the points if he wants to save a little bit of face tomorrow.
At the back end of the grid, Lotus again proved the quickest of the three rookie teams, with Jarno Trulli redressing his Monaco malaise by outqualifying team-mate Heikki Kovalainen this time around.
There will certainly be cheers in the HRT garage, with one of their cars – that of Bruno Senna – outqualifying a Virgin Racing car on merit for the first time this season, which is an incredible feat when you consider that the F110 chassis has undergone virtually no development since the start of the season.
Tomorrow’s race looks set to be a fascinating encounter, and don’t forget that you can tune in to our live race commentary feed at Richard’s F1 from one hour before the start of the race. We look forward to having you along!
2010 Turkish GP Qualifying Times:
|1.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1:27.500||1:26.818||1:26.295|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing||1:27.067||1:26.729||1:26.760|
|5.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:27.756||1:27.438||1:26.857|
|6.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:27.649||1:27.141||1:26.952|
|11.||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1:27.951||1:27.525|
|13.||Pedro de la Rosa||Sauber||1:28.147||1:27.879|
|14.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso||1:28.534||1:28.273|
|16.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||1:28.460||1:28.540|
|18.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India||1:28.958|
|21.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||1:30.744|
|23.||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin Racing||1:31.989|
[Original images via GP Update]