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Vettel strolls to pole for Turkish GP
Vettel strolls to pole for Turkish GP
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 May 2011   |  1:32 pm GMT  |  100 comments

Sebastian Vettel made it four pole in four races, by setting the fastest time in qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix, doing only one run in the final part of qualifying. It is his 19th career pole position and he is the first man to take the first four poles of the year since Mika Hakkinen in 1999.

His Red Bull team mate Mark Webber was second on the grid, four tenths behind, but ahead of Nico Rosberg, the first time a Mercedes driver has been in the top three this season.

All three men saved a new set of soft tyres for the race, as the teams evolve their thinking on how to trade off qualifying against race strategy.

Once again the Red Bull’s downforce which allows it to use the DRS rear wing in places where others couldn’t consider it, gave Red Bull a gain. This is a gain they won’t have in the race.

In Q1 Kamui Kobayashi had a problem with the fuel system, which meant he didn’t set a time. Lotus set the pace among the cars that dropped out, Kovalainen again had the edge over Trulli, but the Italian didn’t have the DRS wing working.

Tonio Liuzzi almost got the better of Virgin team, but Jerome D’Ambrosio managed to pip him at the end by almost 2/10ths.

Timo Glock has had a very difficult weekend with new parts on his car not working out, losing him track time and he was forced to revert to old parts for qualifying, so he was outqualified for the second race in a row.

Of the front runners, Massa used a set of soft tyres in Q1, a curious decision as Kobayashi was already out so with him plus the six new team cars set to drop out, there was no need to waste a set of softs. He had a precautionary engine change just before qualifying. Meanwhile Alonso did a time just 3/10ths slower on the hard tyre, despite the soft being worth one second a lap.

In Q2 Paul di Resta did just one run at the end of the session, to save tyres for the race. It meant that Adrian Sutil outqualified him for the first time this season.

It was the best qualifying of the season so far for Williams; Rubens Barrichello almost got the car into the top ten, losing 10th right at the end to Nick Heidfeld.

Pastor Maldonado was half a second slower than his team mate in 14th place.

In Q3 the Red Bulls had a comfortable margin, but there was plenty of intrigue behind with Nico Rosberg fulfilling expectations from Mercedes’ practice performance to grab third place ahead of Lewis Hamilton, his best starting position since Malaysia 2010.

Much of Mercedes’ progress has come from working on set up, getting the tyres working and also from running in cooler conditions, as we saw in China. In Malaysia the team had to cut holes in the bodywork for cooling, which cut the downforce level.

Ferrari were 8/10ths off the pace of the Red Bull pretty much where they were expected to be from practice. Alonso amazingly kept up his record of qualifying 5th for every race this year.

Kobayashi will be worth watching tomorrow. He used up none of his new soft tires in qualifying, and also is in the fastest car in a straightline.

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Hey james, thanks for the reply mate! Always enjoy your website as I visit it everyday! Cheers mate.


5th is not amazing james! not for a driver who many say is the most complete! laughable


With that car?


Hi, James, I’d be glad to know how many sets of tyres did Alonso use in qualifying. or should i say does alonso have a new set of tyres left for today’s race given that he aborted his second run?

does Fernando have an advantage over the Mclarens given that they used both their soft sets of tyres while the red bulls, nico rosberg and a few others did just one run?


Hi, James, I’d be glad to know how many sets of tyres did Alonso use in qualifying. or should i say does alonso have a new set of tyres left for today’s race given that he aborted his second run? pls pls clarify



Excellent writting as always, but what i would really like to see, is a regular slot where you post up your predictions for the race (top 3).

Kind of like Mark Lawrenson does for football on the BBC and Steve Parish does for MotoGP. It’s a little thing, but I feel would really add something to you qualifying/pre race report.

Additional value would be created if you also pitted yourself against another F1 expert each week, just for fun of course. The loser having to donate a small amount to charity.


And here we will have another Rosberg (which I rly like tbh) playing the cards for RedBull today.

He is going to be slow on race pace and Vettel and Mark will shoot ahead, leaving Lewis, Alonso (hopefully he will get a good start) and Jenson way behind with no chance of chatching the RB.

To be honest, if this is the scenario after 2 laps, I might just go watch a movie or something. I wish Rosberg would be as fast in the race as he is in qualy.



Well after seeing the race i would say you were pretty spot on with this comment except for one small detail…Rosberg did indeed help Vettel with a creating a substantial gap however he held Webber back so it didn’t help both Red Bulls…but good call none the less. It must be said though that Webber and Alonso managed to get by him pretty quickly but by that time the damage was done..


I know vettel has been outperforming webber in quali this season, but the first 3 races webber had car problems.

James – I’d like to know what webbers approach was to Q3 in turkey; was it a more conservative run to set a relatively quick time, while conserving the tires for tomorrows race?

Because there is little point in getting pole if you have flat spotted your tires!


I think Seb can just get more out of these Pirelli tyres on a single lap than Mark, it’s just dynamics, driving style etc. but Mark is on a par with him in race conditions and that’s where the prizes get handed out


James it would be interesting to hear your opinion on the difference in times between Vettel and Webber in quali and how this seems to have changed from last year – Webber is behind and by a bigger margins – is it:

1 – Webber is losing it

2- – The weight difference between the rivers (where the ballast is placed)

3 – The new car suits Vettel’s driving style

4 – None of the above – something else?


I’ve answered this elsewhere – it’s to do with the way both drivers work the tyre over a lap. These Pirellis suit Vettel better in quali, but Webber can match him in race conditions, I think, even if he is a little harder on the tyre. Remember Webber was particularly good in quali with the Michelins. It’s one of those fine detail things


Webber was way behind Vettel again, and yet he didn’t seem as disappointed as he was earlier this season, and one of his engineers actually congratulate him so is there any meaning behind this?


Mark is driving a inferior car and is still in touch with Vettel.

That is why those that support him within Red Bull congratulate him.

It appears he has accepted that for this year, at least until his contract ends, but will move on to a new team next year.


Webber is driving an inferior car? How so? I was not aware of this. I’d like to see Webber win at least one championship since I believe he has more guts and determination than any driver in F1.


I hope he moves on to a new team.

It would be a great shame for F1 to lose a driver/person like Mark Webber.


Schumi..EPIC fail once again. Man, this is now beyond depressing. His performances get even me down and i’m not even that much of a fan. Please retire, PLEASE, like now.


Kobayashi has been very slow compared to his teammate this weekend. Why is that? Neary 2s slower in FP2 and a second slower in FP3.

His comment after qualifying was pessimistic. Or just cautious?

Pit Straight Weaver

Are Adam Parr and FW related at all? On today’s BBC qualy coverage they showed an interview with Parr and, ignoring his rather camp voice and hair-flicking, I thought he looked stunningly similar to the young Frank. Never noticed this before, but today it really struck me – is there a family link?


Sebastian is doing very, very well. It is incredible how he changed over the last year and most notably this year. A lot more mature attitude, very relaxed, showing signs of good humour. And the driving on a hot lap – sublime!
Lets not forget Mark is no slosh when it comes to quali.
In the Hamilton vs Sebastian duel I am now inclined to see Sebastian on top in the long run and achieving some amazing successes.

Benson Jutton




I’m surprised Vettel is this quick as it appears to me he has a problem with his right index finger,it keeps sticking up in the air,surely this affliction should slow him down somewhat.


How does Kobayashi go not having set a time in quali? He falls foul of the 107% rule, have the stewards offered him special consideration based on a FP time ?


They consider times made during FP1, 2 and 3 and if any of his times from there are within the 107% rule then an exception can be made. This rule is there specifically for situations like Kobayashi’s as it would be unfair not to allow someone to race simply because their car broke down in Q1.


I would rather see someone other that Seb on pole I must say, good job but the season needs more than one contender.

And I agree that the famous finger is annoying.

Lewis made a mistake in going out twice in Q3, he would have been better not going out at all, he would have been on the clean side in 9th and have lots of softs……


Well.. you know what they say about hindsight. Lewis is always one to push and that’s why we like him.


Can anybody explain why did Massa not set a time in Q3?


He made a mistake on his first run and decided not to waste another set of tyres doing a second run.


Thanks James, I’m very interested to see how he does. He’s always underestimated, but I think he’s a rather quick study, and is learning his best tyre strategy.


Vettels finger is beginning to really irritate. Redbull have a fundamental advantage which I cannot fathom. I’m annoyed!!!


If Valentino Rossi is the Doctor, is Vettel the Proctologist? Or just the Specialist?

The advantage isn’t too hard to work out. The car generages more downforce from the underside than any other on the grid. This has a much lesser drag penalty than drag from the wings.

How Red Bull does it is anoter matter.


Again the key to making this race exciting and not a walk in the park for Vettel will be Nico getting in front of both Red Bulls. If he doesnt then i fear its a fight for 3rd place.

Schumi looked really ticked off after quali his car looked all over the place. He has made at least 4 grid places in every race so far so he will be looking to pounce at the start again.


First the rest had the demoralizing thought that Red Bull were taking poles and podiums without a reliable KERS, now they’re in the box and out of the car with a minute left in Q3.

BTW, what was up with Felipe? Did he have more trouble with his car? Were they wanting just a little more time with it before it hit parc ferme? I can’t imagine they chose to keep him in just because he used a set of options in Q1.


Can Massa start on new tyres for the race as he didn’t set a time in Q3?




RB’s vanity was quite cynical (in good sense of this word) towards other teams in Q3, just to say: ok ‘kids’, go play puppets, let’s go and fight with each other, anyway you are beyond mine..


Sorry this is a corrected version of my comment:


I have a question relating to the Friday morning practice session. As I have seen in the live timing data the air temperature was just 11°C which is quite cold.

Are the drivers have different clothing under their racing suits to cope with the high and low temperatures? Is the cockpit giving them enough protection against the wind?



No, it’s pretty hot in the cockpit, so no need for that!


Hi james,

Is it against the regulations in any way, for mclaren to “clean up” lewis and jensons side of the grid overnight when the tracks not in use. Im sure they could sweep, wash and brush from p6 up to the start line, into a state where its not too much of a disadvantage to start on the even numbers. Is this possible?


Don’t know, don’t see why not, but bear in mind there will be GP2, GP3 and god knows what else on track tomorrow before the GP so the dirty side will be dirty anyway so not worth it


Definitely not allowed in MotoGP, James. Wasn’t Valentino disciplined one year because his team did just that, the night before the GP?

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