Sun, May 08, 2011 - Page 20 News List

F1: Vettel grabs fourth straight pole at Turkish Grand Prix

AFP, ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany qualifies during the Turkish Grand Prix yesterday in Istanbul, Turkey.

Photo: Reuters

Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel bounced back from his crash in practice on Friday to claim pole position in an all Red Bull front row yesterday for today’s Turkish Grand Prix.

His fourth successive pole position in the opening four races of the season was the first time this feat had been achieved since Finnish driver Mika Hakkinen in 1999.

The 23-year-old German drove his Red Bull car, dubbed “Kinky Kylie,” with great conviction despite his damaging experience the previous day, to clock an outstanding lap time of 1 minute, 25.049 seconds.

He clocked his lap on his first run in the top-10 shootout, the third part of qualifying, and then saved his tires by not going out again such was his supreme confidence for the 19th pole of his remarkable career.

He was also, stunningly, 0.4 seconds ahead of his Red Bull teammate, Australia’s Mark Webber, who also chose to run only once in the third session, leaving both men with a spare set of tires for the race.

Afterward Vettel was quick to apologize to — and then praise — his team’s mechanics for the work they did in rebuilding his machine overnight.

“Apologies to the team and the mechanics,” Vettel said. “Obviously I damaged the car yesterday and couldn’t run in the afternoon and they did such a good job fixing it. We have been good since this morning and I am happy with this result. I have not had a completely trouble-free day, but I like this track and that helps. I found a good rhythm.”

“It was funny that Mark and myself both decided to skip the second run in Q3 [the third session] because it is so strange to see the others on the track and we are watching knowing they can beat us,” he added.

Webber, who produced a superb drive in the previous race to come from 18th on the grid to finish third, admitted he had taken a risk in not going out again.

“Seb did such a great lap for pole, but I had more to lose not going out, but it is going to be a long race tomorrow, but we are in the best positions and with tires, too, we are in good shape. Good decisions by the team and I am happy,” Webber said.

Germany’s Nico Rosberg was third fastest for the improved Mercedes team, just pipping McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion and winner of the previous race, while two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was fifth fastest.

Rosberg, son of Finland’s former world champion Keke, said that he was looking forward to today’s race.

“It is really great for us to be here, to be third and I have also managed to save a set of tires so we are feeling positive for the race,” Rosberg said.

Hamilton said that while they would start from what he believes is the disadvantageous side of the grid he held out hopes of an impressive showing.

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