In a display of mastery at a track he has made his own, Ferrari's Felipe Massa secured a third successive pole for Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix, a race he has won the past two years. After posting a lap at 1 minute, 25.994 seconds earlier in ...
In a display of mastery at a track he has made his own, Ferrari's Felipe Massa secured a third successive pole for Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix, a race he has won the past two years. After posting a lap at 1 minute, 25.994 seconds earlier in qualifying, Massa -- his F2008 race-fuel ready -- won pole with a 1:27.617 lap around 3.317-mile Istanbul Park. The effort displaced McLaren Mercedes driver Heikki Kovalainen, who celebrated his return from a nasty crash in Spain with a fleeting hold on provisional pole.
Kovalainen's teammate Lewis Hamilton lines up behind Massa with Ferrari's world driving champion Kimi Raikkonen behind fellow Finn Kovalainen. Robert Kubica in the best BMW Sauber effort, Mark Webber for Red Bull, Fernando Alonso for Renault, Jarno Trulli for Toyota, Nick Heidfeld in the other BMW Sauber and Webber's teammate David Coulthard round out the top 10.
"I think I put together a very good lap," Massa said. "I couldn't put together a good lap in the Q2, I was a bit on the traffic and was disturbing a little bit, but then in Q3 I managed to warm up the tires in the right direction and also not be behind somebody, so I even passed Fernando on the outlap just to be sure I that I could have got a clean lap. And I have to say I put two very good laps together on the first try already, and it was a very good lap. And then in the second try just improve a little bit, but it was enough to be on pole.
"I'm just so happy to come the third time here with Ferrari and the third time pole position."
Massa won from pole at this race last year when it was held in August. A much cooler track welcomed teams this year, affecting tire choice and handling.
Kovalainen again thanked medical attention in Spain and credited subsequent checks and training in Finland for arriving race-ready in Turkey.
"Already yesterday I felt very happy with my car and I've been feeling confident all the time," Kovalainen said. "The second lap in Q3 was a nice and clean lap so it's a pleasure to start from the front row and should have a good race tomorrow," Kovalainen said.
Hamilton rued his decision to use the harder of two Bridgestone tire compounds on offer for the weekend to make his qualifying runs. He lost the all-important battle within the team; Kovalainen used the softer version to outpace the Englishman.
"It was a tough qualifying session for me," Hamilton said. "Obviously, at the beginning, I had a fantastic lap in Q1, and in Q2 I struggled a little bit with the option tire and therefore I opted for the prime tire because I thought it would perhaps be a more consistent -- especially through the lap -- tire. So I did and I guess I made the wrong decision."
Kovalainen's fast lap was a 1:27.808, Hamilton's a 1:27.923. Kovalainen called tire choice tricky, saying shifting conditions didn't make for a clear-cut choice.
Putting two cars in the top 10 credits Red Bull's effort in their Adrian Newey era of the RB4. Heidfeld's 10th place will not please the German starting to be outshone by his Polish teammate.
Nico Rosberg came first loser in the second session, grabbing 11th spot in 1:27.012. Williams technical director Sam Michael blamed lack of balance in the middle sector. With qualifying already a greater challenge than race pace for the English team, he said cool conditions exacerbated the situation.
Honda will be disappointed they haven't made the great leap forward hoped for. As if to show why he is the all-time F1 veteran, Rubens Barrichello, making his 257th F1 start this weekend, led his younger teammate Jenson Button to 12th and 13th spots.
Sebastian Vettel placed a solid 14th for Scuderia Toro Rosso ahead of Toyota's Timo Glock.
Wiliams and Renault rookie drivers Kazuki Nakajima and Nelsinho Piquet, respectively, were left adrift down the grid. Scuderia Toro Rosso will be puzzled that Sebastien Bourdais joined those knocked out in first qualifying. The Frenchman had showed good progress in understanding F1 as a rookie. Yet he lines up 18th on the circuit many drivers speak of in glowing terms.
In what might become a dubious distinction now that Super Aguri are off the grid, Force India took up spots on the final row, Giancarlo Fisichella edging his younger teammate Adrian Sutil in a symbolic gesture; they will swap places and Fisichella will be the tail-ender because he incurred a grid penalty for jumping the pit-lane light at the start of first practice Friday.
Webber showed his heels in third and final practice before qualifying. He was followed by Alonso, teammate Coulthard, Rosberg and Massa. Front-of-the-grid teams tend to use final practice for race-condition fuel loads, giving an eyebrow rise to Massa being fifth-quickest, Raikkonen 11th.