Vettel produces last gasp thriller to take Turkey pole


Ahead of today's all-important qualifying session, the air temperature is 28 degrees and the track temperature is 46 degrees.

In this morning's free practice session, the Top 17 were covered by just 1.093s, which indicated just how tight the field is here - a situation aided by the wild swings in performance courtesy of they tyres in the ever-changing temperatures. This morning's best times were set on the hard compound, and while the soft are expected to excel when it gets cooler, it will be interesting to see how they perform this afternoon.

While the close times promise a thrilling fight for pole, it will also mean that as in some previous qualifying sessions we may well see some major upsets, with 'big guns' missing the cut at the first hurdle.

While Brawn is expected to be up there at the end of the hour, along with Red Bull, keep an eye out for this morning's pace-setter, Felipe Massa, not to mention Toyota, Williams, McLaren, Renault and even BMW.

The lights go green and phase 1 gets underway, with Fisichella first out of the box. Shortly after, Buemi and Sutil are also on track.

Fisichella (on softs) posts the first time of the afternoon, crossing the line at 1:30.004. Sutil posts 29.393 and Buemi 29.646.

Raikkonen and Hamilton are the first of the big guns to come out, as Heidfeld goes quickest in the first sector. The German posts 28.794 to go quickest, but this is beaten by Raikkonen and then Trulli (28.267).

Massa (hards) is on track, as Nakajima goes quickest with a 28.190. The Brazilian, a winner here for the last three years, goes quickest with a 28.144, only for Rosberg to instantly demote him with a 27.980 before he too is bumped down by Vettel (27.784).

As Nakajima goes quickest, Raikkonen is on a hot lap, the Finn crossing the line at 7.687. Almost instantly the Ferrari driver is demoted by Trulli and then Vettel, it's fast and frantic.

Button goes third as Hamilton drops to thirteenth. With ten minutes remaining, all but Kubica and Piquet have posted times.

Barrichello is fifth for a brief moment before being demoted by Webber, who posts 27.678.

Barrichello improves to second and Massa fifth, both on the hard tyre. Buemi (softs) improves from twentieth to seventeenth. Kubica also improves, the Pole running on the harder compound.

With five minutes remaining, Heidfeld (softs) escapes the danger zone but only moves as high as twelfth.

Raikkonen is back on track, on softs, as is Hamilton, though the McLaren driver is on hards. The Englishman still in the danger zone, along with Piquet, Fisichella and the Toro Rossos.

Raikkonen makes a mistake and abandons the lap, as Hamilton doesn't look as though he is about to improve.

Raikkonen goes quickest in the final sector but stays eighth, as Rosberg goes quickest in the first sector.

Hamilton is clearly struggling, the rear end of the car hanging out all around the track. The Englishman crosses the line having failed to improve, for the second race in a row he fails to get into phase two. Another man who is out at the first hurdle is Piquet, who spins off into the gravel, much to Flavio Briatore's obvious frustration.

At the end of phase one, we lose Hamilton, Piquet, Buemi, Fisichella and Bourdais.

Quickest was Vettel, ahead of Button, Barrichello, Webber, Massa, Rosberg, Trulli, Raikkonen, Nakajima and Kubica.

Phase two gets underway and phase one pace-setter, Nakajima, is first out. Within moments there are ten drivers on track, including Massa, who is on softs.

Nakajima posts 29.220, establishing the benchmark, but Rosberg and Raikkonen both go quicker. Kovalainen goes fourth, before he is demoted by Massa who goes quickest with a 27.462.

Trulli goes second, but all eyes are on Button and Barrichello. The Brazilian goes quickest with a 27.418 as Nakajima heads off on to the country. Button can only manage a 34.475.

Webber and Vettel go quickest in the first sector, but Button is also on a hot lap. The British driver goes quickest with a 27.322 as Webber gets it all wrong in Turn 8. Vettel, having gone quickest in the first two sectors, loses time in the third and can only manage 27.333, which puts him second. Webber has returned to the pits.

Having gone quickest in the first two sectors, Vettel suddenly lifts off in the third and returns to the pits. Elsewhere, fellow-German, Heidfeld, goes quickest in the first sector. The BMW driver goes sixth with a 27.521, only to be demoted when teammate Kubica goes fourth.

With just over four minutes remaining, Webber has yet to post a time, while Kovalainen, Glock and Nakajima are also in the danger zone.

Nakajima (hard) fails to improve, however, there's still time for at least one more run.

Webber (soft) goes third with a 27.416, as Alonso drops into the danger zone. Barrichello goes quickest in sector three but remains fourth. However, he is dropped down when Raikkonen improves to third.

Glock fails to improve and therefore misses the cut, just as teammate Trulli goes quickest. However, a late charge sees Vettel take the top spot and Alonso scrape into the final shoot-out by the skin of his teeth.

At the second hurdle we lose Heidfeld, Nakajima, Glock, Kovalainen and Sutil.

Quickest was Vettel, ahead of Trulli, Button, Massa, Raikkonen, Webber, Barrichello, Rosberg, Kubica and Alonso.

Phase three gets underway and Raikkonen is first out. Shortly afterwards, Massa and Trulli join him.

Raikkonen (hards), is really fighting the car through Turns 9 and 10, finally crossing the line at 29.405. Moments later, Trulli posts 28.858 to take provisional pole, while Massa can only manage 30.183.

Button (softs) goes quickest in the first two sectors, however, he fails to beat Trulli's time, as does Webber, who can only manage third with a 29.041.

28.801 is good enough for Vettel to take provisional pole, the German having gone quickest in the first two sectors.

Barrichello is on a hot lap, however, he can only manage seventh. Next time around, he fails to improve.

With 45 seconds remaining, all ten drivers are on track.

Webber goes quickest in the first sector, as Raikkonen goes second overall. Button is quickest in the second sector, as Webber takes provisional pole with a 28.613. Moments later, Button re-takes the top spot as all eyes turn to Barrichello and Vettel.

The Brazilian goes second but is then demoted as Vettel take pole position with a 28.316, the German once again stealing it at the death.

Therefore, Vettel will start from pole position for the third time in his F1 career, ahead of Button, Barrichello, Webber, Trulli, Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso, Rosberg and Kubica.

Another epic performance from the German, but full credit also to his teammate, Mark Webber, not to mention the Brawn duo, Trulli, the Ferrari duo, Fernando Alonso and BMW, which clearly has taken a step forward.

What with the wild fluctuations in terms of tyre performance, not to mention the variables posed by fuel strategy and the red mist factor at the first corner, we could be in for one hell of an interesting race tomorrow. Let's hope so.

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    Published: 06/06/2009
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