Having won the fight for pole position and race victory in the 2006 and 2007 Turkish Grands Prix, Felipe has made it a hat-trick for qualifying, and is looking strong for a third race win at Istanbul Park. However, it won’t be easy for the Brazilian driver to run and hide as McLaren are looking much faster than before, slotting into second and third and demoting 2005 Turkish race winner Kimi Raikkonen to fourth. Interestingly, it was Heikki Kovalainen who out-qualified Lewis Hamilton, showing no signs of hesitation as the Finn returns to the monocoque after his big accident a fortnight ago.
BMW & Red Bull
It seems that BMW are dropping slightly from their fine season-starting form. Podiums and a pole raised spirits in the Swiss-German pit box, but recently they have under-whelmed in qualifying. Robert Kubica will start tomorrow’s race from fifth, while Nick Heidfeld could only manage ninth. However, quickly climbing the grid-ladder are Red Bull, who managed to get both drivers into Q3 this time around. Mark Webber and David Coulthard each competed for the grid positions for the entire session, and despite almost destroying one chassis yesterday, Mark Webber got the better of his team mate. Sixth for the Australian, tenth for the Scot.
Renault & Toyota
Renault have clearly improved the pace of the R28, which we all witnessed in Barcelona two weeks ago. However, the proof of the pudding is how the car wold behave around a different track, and seventh and seventeenth is a far cry from second and tenth. Toyota are another team who are experiencing mixed-fortunes at the moment. Like Renault, the Japanese team have one very experienced driver and one (in essence) rookie. Jarno Trulli managed to get his TF108 into eighth, even staying ahead of Heidfeld in the BMW. However, Timo Glock couldn’t get past Q2 and finished in fifteenth.
I just couldn’t get the set-up right so I had some trouble with understeer and oversteer. That meant the car was difficult to drive and I could not repeat the same lap times that I did at the beginning of the session. Maybe there was something strange happening with the wind on the track but that’s the same for everyone. Jarno Trulli.
Williams & Honda
Eleventh and sixteenth is not where Williams really want to be at the moment, the team having had a great first race of the season have managed to slide backwards ever since. The drivers look much more comfortable in the race, but qualifying is proving to be a real hindrance at the moment. Honda also appear to be holding station, and the experience of both drivers meaning they have again qualified quite close to one another. Jenson Button will start the race in thirteenth, just behind his record-breaking team mate Rubens Barrichello.
Scuderia Toro Rosso & Force India
Still awaiting their new STR3 car, Scuderia Toro Rosso continue to charge around in their modified 2007 motor. However both drivers have, in the past, shown what can be done with the old car and occasionally surprise in testing and practice. Come race day though, and the team need to find some reliability. And not just from the car either, but also the drivers. Qualifying in fourteenth and eighteenth (Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais respectively) will not help matters, especially as Vettel appears to be getting tangled up with other mid-fielders with some regularity at the moment. And according to Bourdais, this has spilled over to qualifying as well.
Bad traffic, basically the Force India guys, ruined my afternoon: on my first run I was held up by Sutil as early as Turn 3 and on the second, I came up behind Fisichella in Turn 8.
Everyone seems to behave quite well in qualifying, but I don’t know what those guys were doing on their out laps. It was a bit surprising. Sebastien Bourdais.
Force India came to Turkey with the continuation of the their goal: to get out of Q1. And again, both drivers struggled, made to look even worse with the demise of Super Aguri; Force India now occupy the last row of the grid. Despite being at the back, both drivers are relatively upbeat about their prospects for the race tomorrow.
I did a clean lap and the team did a good job with the car. The balance is not bad, but we just need more grip and more downforce to move forward with the grid position. I am looking forward to a better race tomorrow. Giancarlo Fisichella.
On the last set of tyres I couldn’t improve my time and didn’t get the grip I expected and locked up into turn 12, but it was not so bad overall. From a performance perspective, to better the practice pace and to get close to the rest of the field is positive. Adrian Sutil.