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Vettel Pips Button to Turkish Pole

June 6, 2009

Sebastian Vettel has claimed his second pole of the season in Turkey this afternoon, just pipping championship leader Jenson Button by a tenth of a second.

As the clock stopped ticking at the end of quali three, it was Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber who crossed the line first in 1:28.613s to clinch pole. However, his lap was soon cast aside as Button put his Brawn just ahead on 1:28.421. Vettel was still on his hot lap, and as he had done previously in quali one and quali two, he brought his Red Bull over the line in P1, a mere tenth faster than Button.

With the race win having depended on qualifying for the last four years, and with all four races being won from pole position, it makes Vettel’s charge all the more important. It still remains to be seen from the fuel loads, whether Vettel’s pole was through being the quickest, or simply because he was on a lighter fuel load than Brawn.

And unlike most F1 race tracks which run clockwise, the Istanbul Park track runs counter-clockwise, putting more pressure on the drivers as they go through the corners. Turn eight is particularly tricky, and the change of direction of the circuit puts a lot of G’s on the drivers’ necks for four or five seconds as they go through the long, high speed corner. The track requires extreme fitness, making qualifying all the more important for the race. Felipe Massa, who has won here for the last three years, claims that a hat-trick of wins at this track means a great deal than any other circuit, due to the way the track tests your fitness as a driver.

This year however, Massa will be starting from seventh on the grid, behind teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

Lewis Hamilton, who failed to get his McLaren into quali two, starts 16th on the grid. He appeared to be struggling with oversteer as his MP4-24 stepped out at the back on more than one occasion. His teammate Heikki Kovalainen could only go two places higher, starting 14th. McLaren, who at the start of the season claimed they would be back up with the front-runners by the start of the European leg of the season in Spain a month ago, appear to be going backwards. Hamilton said following his early departure: “The car, it has just got slower and slower throughout the weekend,” adding: “People have got faster and we have got slower.”

Vettel and Button will make up the front row of the grid tomorrow, with Rubens Barrichello starting from P3. The Brazilian admitted that he was worried during quali two that he was going to miss out on the top-ten shoot-out, and following a slow start in the early stages of quali three, he managed to turn it around and put his Brawn on the second row of the grid ahead of Webber.

Jarno Trulli, who was competitive throughout qualifying, will start from row three alongside Raikkonen. Fernando Alonso will start 8th alongside Massa in 7th, who had been tipped for pole this weekend. Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica, who made the top-ten shoot-out for the first time this season, make up row five.

The only unanswered question is who will take victory tomorrow? Will Button make it six out of seven wins, or is Vettel going to claim his second win of the season? Whatever happens, this season is shaping up to be dominated by the Brawns and the Red Bulls.

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