Another Saturday qualifying session, and another pole position for Sebastian Vettel, with the German driver continuing his qualifying whitewash of 2011 by taking pole position for tomorrow’s Turkish Grand Prix, with Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber making it a clean sweep of the front row with his best qualifying performance of the season.
Webber’s Q3 effort was four-tenths of a second slower than Vettel’s, but in a defiant move of confidence in its own pace – plus recognising the added bonus of not using another set of tyres in the process – both elected to have a single run in the final phase of qualifying. The nervousness as both waited to see if their rivals could better their times was palatable, but ultimately they held out and will start from the all-important pole position at Istanbul.
While qualifying hasn’t proved as crucial at determining the race result this year (in comparison to previous seasons), a front-row start at Turkey is still vital, with all of the Grands Prix here being won from the front row.
So for Vettel, he has a golden opportunity to make it three wins in four starts in 2011, while for team-mate Webber, this is his best chance to-date to open his win account this year and get back into the title hunt.
Nico Rosberg took his best qualifying result since last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix with a fine effort to take third place, but team-mate Michael Schumacher couldn’t string a decent enough lap together and will start from a disappointing eighth, after being second-fastest in this morning’s final practice session.
The McLarens and Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button sandwiched Fernando Alonso’s fifth-placed Ferrari, but Button will be kicking himself for a mistake on his run to the finish line on his fastest lap, when he inadvertently backed off before he crossed the finish line to mark the end of his timed lap.
Also sandwiching Schumacher were the two Renaults of Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld, while Felipe Massa rounds out the top ten after failing to take to the track in the final phase of qualifying. The Brazilian’s Ferrari had also undergone an engine change ahead of qualifying.
Just missing out on a Q3 berth was Rubens Barrichello, who hauled his Williams up to a season’s best 11th, just missing out on a shot in the top-ten stage by 0.024 seconds when pipped to the post by Heidfeld. Team-mate Pastor Maldonado kept it out of the wall – a feat he has seemingly struggled with this weekend – and will start from a promising 14th. Could Williams take their first points of the season at Turkey?
The Force Indias split the Williams runners, with Adrian Sutil finally out-qualifying team-mate Paul di Resta for the first time this season, and he will start from 12th for tomorrow’s race.
Sergio Pérez will start from 15th – ahead of both Torro Rosso drivers – while his team-mate Kamui Kobayashi didn’t even post a lap time in Q1 after his Sauber ground to a halt on his out-lap with a suspected fuel feed problem.
The three sophomore teams were again eliminated in the first phase of qualifying, although Heikki Kovalainen was once again quickest and outlined the progress Team Lotus has made in trying to catch the midfield: his fastest lap was just 0.4 seconds outside of making it into Q2. The Finn thumped team-mate Jarno Trulli to the tune of 0.9 seconds in raw lap time, although the Italian was reportedly losing time due to an issue with his adjustable rear wing.
Jérôme d’Ambrosio again out-paced Virgin team-mate Timo Glock in qualifying, a feat all the more impressive given that the Belgian rookie is not running the full complement of upgrades on his MVR-02 in comparison to his number-one team-mate. Despite this, however, d’Ambrosio will start from the back of the grid courtesy of a five-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags in Friday’s second practice session.
And credit too to Vitantonio Liuzzi, who split the Virgin cars and out-paced Glock by 0.1 seconds, the first time this season that HRT has managed to qualify off the back row
2011 Turkish Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault||1:27.039||1:25.610||1:25.049|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault||1:27.090||1:26.075||1:25.454|
|3.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:27.514||1:25.801||1:25.571|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes||1:27.091||1:26.066||1:25.595|
|6.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes||1:27.374||1:26.485||1:25.982|
|8.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:27.697||1:26.121||1:26.646|
|10.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||1:27.013||1:26.395||no time|
|11.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth||1:28.246||1:26.764|
|12.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes||1:27.392||1:27.027|
|13.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes||1:27.625||1:27.145|
|14.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth||1:27.396||1:27.236|
|15.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari||1:27.778||1:27.244|
|16.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:27.620||1:27.255|
|17.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:28.055||1:27.572|
|18.||Heikki Kovalainen||Team Lotus Renault||1:28.780|
|19.||Jarno Trulli||Team Lotus Renault||1:29.673|
|20.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth||1:30.445|
|23.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT F1 Cosworth||1:30.692|
|22.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth||1:30.813|
|23.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT F1 Cosworth||1:31.564|
|24.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari||no time|
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