Vettel beats Button to take pole position in Istanbul

Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel took his third career pole position by snatching the all-important grid slot from his championship rival Jenson Button, in the closing stages of qualifying in Turkey.

In the closing seconds of Q3, Vettel’s team mate Mark Webber set the pace with his second run as he lapped in one minute, 28. 613 seconds. But moments later Button took that away with a time of one minute, 28. 421 seconds with his Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello backing him up with one minute, 28. 579 seconds.

But Vettel’s final run around the challenging anti-clockwise circuit that is the Istanbul Park meant he grabbed his second pole position of the season with a time of one minute, 28. 316 seconds. The margin between the Red Bull Racing driver and the series leader was just over a tenth of a second.

This was a great performance by the young German and after setting the pace in sessions one and two in qualifying, it wasn’t a surprise to see the energy drink-sponsored car heading the field after Q3. Indeed, this result is a major boost to Vettel’s title hopes after crashing out early in the Monaco Grand Prix. Sebastian really needs to score big in order to close the margin of 28 points to Jenson.

Even though Jenson Button was denied a third consecutive pole position by a tenth of a second, he is still on the front row. His Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello did well to recover from a poor first run in Q3 to take third spot, while Red Bull’s Mark Webber earned a respectable fourth position.

Toyota’s Jarno Trulli will start the Turkish Grand Prix in fifth, ahead of the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa respectively. This was a disappointing performance by Massa, as he was seeking for a fourth straight pole despite setting the quickest time in final practice leading up to qualifying. Felipe’s chances of going for a fourth consecutive victory on his favourite circuit is looking quite slim.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso lines up eighth in the Renault ahead of Nico Rosberg’s Williams and the improved BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica. In fact, this was a better showing from the BMW squad following a disastrous Monaco Grand Prix weekend a fortnight ago. Kubica’s team-mate Nick Heidfeld will start the race in P11.

But the biggest disappointments would have to be McLaren. After setting some promising lap times in the two practice sessions on Friday, the pace and handling of the Mercedes-powered MP4-24 made it quite a handful for both Heikki Kovalainen and world champion Lewis Hamilton. The pair struggled to set decent lap times due to a lack of grip and will start the seventh race of the season down in a depressing P14 and P16 respectively.

As for the under-pressure Brazilian that is Nelson Piquet Jr, he yet again failed in qualifying and was eliminated in the early stages following two spins in the Renault. First he ran wide upon exiting the demanding Turn 8, then later on plunging into the Turn 3 gravel (no thanks to a brake problem) – all of which left him 17th on the grid.

Qualifying times – Istanbul Park

1. Vettel       Red Bull-Renault      1:28.316
2. Button       Brawn-Mercedes        1:28.421
3. Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes        1:28.579
4. Webber       Red Bull-Renault      1:28.613
5. Trulli       Toyota                1:28.666
6. Raikkonen    Ferrari               1:28.815
7. Massa        Ferrari               1:28.858
8. Alonso       Renault               1:29.075
9. Rosberg      Williams-Toyota       1:29.191
10. Kubica       BMW-Sauber            1:29.357
11. Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber            1:27.521
12. Nakajima     Williams-Toyota       1:27.629
13. Glock        Toyota                1:27.795
14. Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes      1:28.207
15. Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  1:28.391
16. Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes       1:28.318
17. Piquet       Renault               1:28.582
18. Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:28.708
19. Fisichella   Force India-Mercedes   1:28.717
20. Bourdais     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:28.918

5 thoughts to “Vettel beats Button to take pole position in Istanbul”

  1. The top three drivers views on qualifying – Vettel, Button and Barrichello. Courtesy from

    Sebastian Vettel admitted he was not expecting such a smooth qualifying session following his problems during Friday’s practice for the Turkish Grand Prix.

    The Red Bull driver secured his second pole position of the season in Istanbul after edging championship leader Jenson Button by over a tenth of a second in the dying moments of qualifying.

    Vettel had endured a troubled practice on Friday, covering just four laps in the afternoon after being hit by an engine problem.

    But the German dominated today’s qualifying, becoming the first man to go quickest in all three segments.

    Vettel, 28 points behind Button in the standings, said he will do his best to try to reduce the gap to the Brawn driver.

    “We will try our best to keep this statistic alive but it won’t be easy,” Vettel said. “We have a very good chance here, a very good car.

    “I expected more difficulties in qualifying but we made it. 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.”

    He added: “In Friday practice we had an engine failure so I was not able to do a lot of laps but I had a good feeling for the car so I was quite confident.

    “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, the only man other than Button to have won a race this year, said Red Bull has done its homework for tomorrow, but he is still expecting a long race.

    “I think in China I was confident, but it didn’t help at all because the day after it was raining,” he said about his victory in Shanghai. “It was a good race for us obviously with the conditions, but we could not show how good we could have been in the dry.

    “Tomorrow should be so let’s see how we get on tomorrow. We have done our homework so far but the main demands come tomorrow when we have to race 58 laps around here.”

    World championship leader Jenson Button believes that he can become the first driver to win the Turkish Grand Prix without starting from pole position after losing out to Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel in qualifying for tomorrow’s race.

    The Brawn driver took pole from Mark Webber late in the session, but was edged out by one tenth of a second by Vettel’s last-gasp effort.

    Despite pole position starters having won all four Turkish GPs to date, Button is confident that he can buck the trend.

    “I’m looking forward to the race,” said Button. “Every pole position man here has won, so we aim to change that.

    “You can overtake here, so we will have fun tomorrow.”

    The 29-year-old added that he had struggled to find the best set-up for his Brawn-Mercedes throughout practice, but that he always knew that he would be able to find front-running pace.

    “I enjoy this circuit and that’s why I found it tough when we arrived here and couldn’t find the right balance,” said Button. “When one person in the team is doing good laps, it’s find because you know the car has it. You just have to find it.

    “Yesterday was a tough day for everyone. It was so windy and we couldn’t get a balance with the car, but today with some changes to the setup and wind calmed down the car seemed much better.

    “After practice, it was quite difficult to see what tyres to run in qualifying. On prime didn’t have much feeling so wasn’t sure. We did the right thing in staying with it in Q3 and not chopping and changing so I could get on with my work.

    “We worked all the way through the day, pleased with front row and great place to be for tomorrow.”

    Despite having missed out on taking a hat-trick of pole positions, Button added that he was not surprised to have been knocked off top spot by a Red Bull.

    “The races before were the same,” said Button. “These guys are doing a very good job and we are also.

    “It is about getting the best out of the equipment, let’s see for the race.

    Rubens Barrichello is optimistic that third place on the grid for the Turkish Grand Prix will give him an advantage over his Brawn team-mate Jenson Button, who has qualified one spot ahead in second.

    With very little racing at the Istanbul Park track, dirt off the racing line has been a problem this weekend – and Barrichello thinks that will favour him at the start as the ‘odd’ side of the grid is on the racing line.

    “We were discussing where it would be better to start from here, and I hope it is third,” said Barrichello.

    “I am told this is the only race of the year [at Istanbul Park], so we have been passing on the right of the main straight. Although I like Jenson very much, I hope my side of the grid is better.”

    Brawn had not been a frontrunner in practice, but both Button and Barrichello mounted a strong challenge for pole in qualifying and were only narrowly beaten by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.

    “It has been a good job since last night,” said Barrichello. “I think the track may have come towards us a little bit, and the car feels a lot better.”

    The Brazilian had languished near the foot of the top ten after his initial Q3 attempt, but surged up to row two with his final run.

    “This morning the fourth lap was better than the third laps, but in qualifying it is more difficult,” he said.

    “I lost the first two laps today as I had traffic, and the balance was not as good as I expected so the fourth lap could have been better. I want to know if there was more time in the tyres.”

  2. What to know what happened to Lewis Hamilton, who yet again failed in qualifying? Read on for the full details, taken from

    Lewis Hamilton said his McLaren car simply had no grip after going out in the first qualifying segment ahead of tomorrow’s Turkish Grand Prix.

    The world champion finished 16th and missed the cut to go into Q2 for the second time in a row and for the third time this season.

    After looking competitive on Friday, Hamilton said his car had become slower as the weekend progressed.

    “Our car seems to have got slower relative to the others as the grip has gone down on the track,” said Hamilton. “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.

    “The team has done a fantastic job though: they really have been working night and day with the same determination and drive as ever. This is clearly going to be a challenging year for us, but I have no doubts that we’ll bounce back.”

    Team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, quickest yesterday, was also unable to shine today, but the Finn managed to make it to Q2, finishing in 14th position.

    “Our car doesn’t have enough grip for us to attack the fast corners,” said Kovalainen. “The others seem to gain grip through the weekend and are able to better use the Option tyre while we’re using the Prime and losing performance. Braking and acceleration are still very good but we’re just losing grip as the track temperature increases.

    “The gap to the leaders is still too big so we need to do some more work back at the MTC to move closer to the front. We’ll never give up, but tomorrow’s race will be difficult.”

    As for Felipe Massa, who won the Turkish Grand Prix three times, the Ferrari star has said he is unlikely to score a podium finish let alone a race victory following seventh in qualifying.

    Felipe Massa blamed his car’s balance with fuel onboard for his failure to fight for a stronger position in qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix.

    “I think it’s more the balance of the car with low fuel,” said Massa after finishing in seventh position.

    “In Q1 and Q2 it was quite good, with good balance and good grip. And then when I put the fuel in the car I just lost the balance.

    “The car began to oversteer and it was a bit difficult to drive. So it’s was difficult to put a lap together. I think that’s the only explanation.”

    The Ferrari driver has won in Istanbul for the last three years, having started from pole position in all three races.

    His qualifying streak came to an end today, however, and he reckons his streak of victories is also likely to finish tomorrow.

    “Even the podium won’t be easy, so we need to think about good points,” he added. “Starting seventh you are not in a position to say that you are going to fight for victory.

    “We need to think about scoring good points and if there’s something else it’s always welcome.”

    Massa, whose team has shown good progress in the last two races, denied today’s qualifying result was a setback for Ferrari.

    “No, for sure not. We keep working to improve the situation. If you look at the beginning of the championship until now, we have improved a lot. We need to keep pushing hard to really bring the team into a competitive level. It’s not a setback.”

    He added: “For sure we have made a small step forward, but maybe the others as well. So I think maybe we are still more competitive compared to a few teams, but Red Bull and Brawn are still better than us. Not so much, but a little bit that makes a good difference in the end.”

  3. From the 2009 season, the FIA is making public the weights of the cars, with their fuel load included, following Saturday’s qualifying session.

    Below is the weight of each car following qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix, sorted by qualifying position.

    Pos Driver Team Weight (kg)
    1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing Renault 649.5
    2. Jenson Button Brawn Mercedes 655.5
    3. Rubens Barrichello Brawn Mercedes 652.5
    4. Mark Webber Red Bull Racing Renault 656.0
    5. Jarno Trulli Toyota 652.0
    6. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 658.0
    7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 654.0
    8. Fernando Alonso Renault 644.5
    9. Nico Rosberg Williams Toyota 660.0
    10. Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 664.0
    11. Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 681.5*
    12. Kazuki Nakajima Williams Toyota 680.4*
    13. Timo Glock Toyota 689.0*
    14. Heikki Kovalainen McLaren Mercedes 665.0*
    15. Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes 668.5*
    16. Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 696.5*
    17. Nelson Piquet Renault 689.6*
    18. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari 686.5*
    19. Giancarlo Fisichella Force India Mercedes 688.5*
    20. Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso Ferrari 701.0*

    * declared weight

  4. It’s no surprise that Vettel was running lighter than the brawns, While Red bull are quick they aren’t quick enough. I’d expect that Brawn will be able to keep close to Vettel, it will depend on how well the pit stops go. Should be a Brawn win.

    McLaren do seem to have serious issues with High speed tracks, I doubt Hamilton can even get to tenth without relying on reliability issues for the other teams. Not good for the F1 messiah is it?

  5. great qualifying with the top 9 places all within a second. Great job by Vettel but carrying 6 kilos means he’ll stop before Jenson by a few laps. Barrichello did an amazing job though by staying out for 3 laps and go from 7th to third after Jenson pipped him into second.

    But boy is that there Mclaren a load of crap? It was amazing to see and hear the in-car footage for the infamous turn 8, where you could hear Jenson and Vettel go flat out round the almost 4 apex corner, but Lewis had to slow for the whole corner. Amazing to see how poor that car is and as Eddie J said after, the car is just hopeless.

    Yet again Brawn are up there, even after a poor practice on friday and everyone thought this would be the race where they struggle. What bugs me is that so many are already saying F1 is boring due to Brawn doing so well! yeah right it’s exactly the same as Shuey aint it?!

    Still, the debacle behind the scenes is still going on and we may yet have a break-a-way group on our hands. I doubt it’ll happen, but you never know. However, what scares me is the bullishness of Max. there are 10 teams that have put their bids in. With Williams in and Max’s mood, there is nothing to stop him from having his budget cap and all the new teams for next year! He has said that if any teams want to race on their own, that’s fine by him. Could be just him being a dick though and showing off. But it would take some major balls and I don’t think he thinks he could get away with that much.

    But we’ll soon find out when the chosen teams are announced next week.

    Great write up Elton.

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