Sebastian Vettel maintains his perfect record in qualifying this season with his fourth successive pole position at the Istanbul Park circuit.
Despite crashing his Red Bull RB7 against the barrier in Friday’s wet practice session after running over a kerb exiting the challenging Turn 8, the world championship leader recovered from a lack of dry running to take a dominant pole position with just a single flying lap.
Vettel’s time of one minute, 25.049 seconds was impressive. Full commitment around the demanding 3.317-mile circuit, with just a small hint of lift off the throttle in Turn 8 and the use of KERS to power through to the top slot.
His team-mate Mark Webber completed an all-Red Bull Racing front row, four tenths of a second slower than Vettel, with the team so confident of its superiority that the pair went for just one early run in Q3 then sat in the pits watching their rivals fail to beat them.
Nico Rosberg underlined Mercedes GP’s improvement by taking an excellent third, but disappointment for team-mate Michael Schumacher, as he could not maintain his practice form and was only eighth.
The McLaren pair of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will start in fourth and sixth respectively, split by Fernando Alonso. The Ferrari driver continuing to take fifth in every qualifying session this season.
Renault’s Vitaly Petrov lines up seventh on the grid, two positions ahead of team-mate Nick Heidfeld. As for Felipe Massa, a three times winner of the Turkish Grand Prix, he will start in tenth after deciding not to run in Q3 following an engine change in final practice.
Rubens Barrichello gave Williams its best qualifying position in a difficult season so far with P11 – although he had been on course for a Q3 slot until Heidfeld edged ahead by 0.024 seconds in the final moments of Q2. Team-mate Pastor Maldonado was P14, with the Force Indias between them. Adrian Sutil out-qualifying Paul di Resta for the first time this season.
Kamui Kobayashi was the only driver unable to record a lap time, as his Sauber was cutting out on the back straight. He was forced to withdraw from Q1 with a fuel pump problem. His team-mate Sergio Perez took P15 ahead of the Toro Rossos.
Team Lotus was unable to progress into Q2. But despite that setback Heikki Kovalainen was within a respectable half-second of the cut off point and still managed to edge ahead of his team-mate Jarno Trulli by 0.9 seconds.
As for the battle at the rear end of the grid, Tonio Liuzzi impressively qualified his Hispania in-between the pair of Virgin Racing. For Jerome D’Ambrosio, who recorded a time to qualify in P20, he will drop further back serving his five-place grid penalty for a yellow flag infringement in practice.
Qualifying positions from Istanbul:
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m25.049s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m25.454s
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m25.574s
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.595s
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.851s
6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.982s
7. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m26.296s
8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m26.646s
9. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m26.659s
10. Felipe Massa Ferrari No time
11. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m26.764s
12. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m27.027s
13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m27.145s
14. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m27.236s
15. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m27.244s
16. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m27.255s
17. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m27.572s
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m28.780s
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m31.119s
20. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m30.692s
21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m30.813s
22. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m31.564s
23. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari No time
24. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m30.445s*
107% time: 1m33.103s
*Five-place grid penalty for a yellow flag infringement