Sebastian Vettel has taken his second pole position of the 2009 Formula One World Championship, claiming the place ahead of both Brawn cars and his team mate, Mark Webber. Qualifying saw another early exit for Lewis Hamilton, while similarly powered Adrian Sutil in the Force India managed to get through to Q2. Nelson Piquet Jr. entertained with two spins in Q1 while BMW and Toyota split themselves in Q2 and Q3.
The seventh round of the championship has been billed as important, as once again many teams introduced new parts to the cars, Istanbul Park proving to be a better circuit to pass judgment on updated components than Monaco. However, while some teams have shown improvement, the general order remained with Red Bull and Brawn fighting it out at the top.
With track temperature exceeding Bridgestone’s limit between the two compounds – the soft falling off over the course of the lap that is run at 45°C or over – many drivers chose to set laps on the harder compound, thus managing to get two flyers in per run. However, the track temperature did fall towards the end of the sessions, and although this bucks the usual trend, it did allow some teams to capitalise on the soft compound in the first session.
The first stint saw Lewis Hamilton really struggle with his McLaren MP4-24, the rear of the car looking particularly hard to control. On his final two lap run, the reigning world champion fumbled the first attempt and heading into the first corner for his second, slipped away from the apex and lost time. The Briton could only manage P16 on the grid.
Looking good though was Sebastian Vettel, whose early time of 1m27.330s remained unbeaten for the remainder of the session. Team mate Mark Webber also enjoyed a good run, completing a lap just 0.1s shy of the pace setting sister car. Williams also looked very handy, with both drivers setting good pace early on in Q1. Kazuki Nakajima did run wide a couple of times, but ultimately his speed was pretty much up there for much of the 20 minutes.
Giancarlo Fisichella rather embarrassingly failed to match the pace of his team mate Adrian Sutil and qualified in P19, while Sutil carried himself through to Q2. Both Scuderia Toro Rosso pilots stayed in Q1, Sebastien Bourdais ending his day in P20 and Sebastien Buemi in P18. Nelson Piquet Jr. was the fifth driver out of qualifying in the first session, the Brazilian slipping off the track twice, the second excursion being put down to brake failure on the Renault R29.
Q2 was relatively straight forward, with fewer surprises than the first round. Adrian Sutil couldn’t better his position of P15, but the fact the Force India pilot managed to haul himself up into Q2 is an achievement all to itself. The second McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen also failed to do much better, the Finn exiting qualifying in P14. Timo Glock, Kazuki Nakajima and Nick Heidfeld all failed to improve, while team mates Jarno Trulli, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica each went on to Q3. Sebastian Vettel again took the fastest lap.
The final 10 minute session was clearly going to be all about the Brawn drivers and Sebastian Vettel. Eddie Jordan pipped Jarno Trulli – one of his former drivers – for the pole, and although the Toyota pilot did well, eventually had to settle for P5. Robert Kubica showed promise in the BMW, and along with Nick Heidfeld finishing in P11 in Q2, Kubica ended his day in P10. However, it is clear the F1.09 is working better and hopefully both drivers can improve during tomorrow’s race.
Nico Rosberg eventually had to succumb to the mighty pace of the front runners, and his Williams FW31 had to settle for P9. Fernando Alonso also had a fairly anonymous qualifying session, finishing in P8 after sliding off the track at the infamous T8 in a similar fashion to his team mate. The Ferraris line up in P6 and P7, Kimi Raikkonen getting the upper hand on his team mate Felipe Massa. The Brazilian driver has always raced well around Turkey since he’s been with the Scuderia, and although the team are making inroads into their performance deficit, there is clearly a long way to go still.
Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello appeared to be off pace in earlier sessions, but you simply can not rule them out. Button came on strong in Q3 from early on and on his final run managed to clinch the provisional pole position. Unfortunately for the Briton, it was stolen by Sebastian Vettel moments later, but the lap was good and clean and team owner Ross Brawn is confident they have the race-pace and correct fuel load for a decent strategy.
Barrichello had a slightly unusual Q3, seemingly lapping the Istanbul Park circuit way off the pace. The experienced Brazilian racer was no where on his first run and aborted the lap by blending out of the throttle towards the final complex. Being on the harder compound enabled Rubens to go again, but even the second lap was poor, 0.7s shy of the then-fastest lap by the end of the second sector alone.
However, unsighted by the cameras, Barrichello’s final run posted him into P2, only to be demoted to P3 by Vettel who took the pole. Fuel loads may tell the story better once they are published, but either Barrichello messed up his first runs (assuming he is on a lower fuel load than the times indicated) or absolutely blitzed his final lap (on a heavier fuel load than the time indicated).
Sebastian Vettel’s pole is his career third, and first on a dry circuit. In Italy last season, the German claimed the top spot at a saturated Monza, and he repeated this feat in China earlier this season. However, to claim pole on a dry circuit that is also a real challenge for the drivers will no doubt be remembered for a long time.
- The qualifying results can be viewed here: Turkey 2009: Qualifying Result.
- The live qualifying notes can be viewed here: Turkey 2009: Live Qualifying Notes.
- The grid (inclusive of penalties) can be viewed here: Turkey 2009: The Grid.
- The post-qualifying car weights can be viewed here: Turkey 2009: Post-Qualifying Car Weights.