Sebastian Vettel once again stole all the headlines in qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix as he took pole position by over four tenths of a second from Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber.
The achievement is all the more remarkable considering that Vettel did very little running in practice yesterday, owing to a heavy crash in the morning. Today, however, he set just one flying lap in Q3 before returning to the garage to watch the rest of the field fall far short of his one effort.
“I'm very happy,” said the reigning world champion. “It was a bit funny in Q3 today, as both Mark and I decided we would skip the second run and so we finished earlier than normal. It was a strange feeling, as the other cars are on track setting times and you are in the garage watching – they might beat you, but you can only watch the screens and there's nothing you can do. It was an odd feeling but a good decision to save tyres for tomorrow's race.
“I messed up the car yesterday morning, so we missed the session in the afternoon, but the guys fixed it for today and I think they did a very good job. We have been up there with the times today, although we didn't have a trouble free morning and we had a bit to catch up.
“I like the track here which helps and it was nice to see that, without many laps, I was able to come back and find the rhythm, so all-in-all I'm very happy today.”
Despite being comprehensively beaten by his team-mate, Webber sounded very positive about his chances for race day, and happy with his efforts in qualifying. “I would have liked to have got a couple more tenths to have the margin; obviously Sebastian did a very good lap for pole, but my lap wasn't too bad,” commented the Aussie. “We spoke before qualifying and decided that, as tomorrow is going to be a long race, every lap you could save today might help tomorrow.
“It turns out that we're in the best possible grid positions and the team did a good job, as we have saved a set of tyres too, so it's looking good. There were some good decisions from the team. I'm happy with today and am looking forward to tomorrow's race.”
Team principal Christian Horner explained the thinking behind the decision to give both driver only a single lap in Q3, and congratulated both them and the rest of the team on their efforts since arriving in Istanbul.
“A great team performance today and a fantastic come back from Sebastian after a challenging day yesterday,” he said. “All the guys worked very hard to make sure the car was ready for this morning and Sebastian repaid them in the best possible way – with an excellent lap on his first run to get the pole. Mark was right up there too and we have secured the front row of the grid.
“We elected not to do a second run with both drivers; we knew it would be a little tight, but strategically we believe it was the right thing to do, as both drivers now have a new set of tyres available for tomorrow's race.”