Vettel takes pole in exctiting session - Turn Two's full report

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    Ross
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    Vettel takes pole in exctiting session - Turn Two's full report

    Post by Ross on 18th April 2009, 01:52

    Turn Two Chinese GP Qualifying Report


    Report by Ross

    Into the third qualifying session of the 2009 season, teams are still getting over the controversial verdict made by the FIA over diffuser-gate, which declared Brawn, Williams and Toyota were running the rear of their cars legally.

    As per-usual during a Grand Prix weekend surrounded by controversy, all the pettiness seemed to fade away when the cars left their respective garages to embark on an hour of qualifying comprised of three sessions.

    Far from settling disputes on-track, arguments have been postponed until after qualifying, so we can truly focus on who will be sitting where at the start of Sunday's race.

    Qualifying session 1 - BMW show cracks

    Few teams are running KERS this weekend, in fact only three of the twenty drivers have the energy recovery systems fitted to their cars: McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen, and BMW's Nick Heidfeld.

    The two Ferraris decided to opt-out of running KERS so as to give preference to reliability over pace. Robert Kubica debuted his system on Friday morning, and promptly ordered BMW to remove it from his car, as he saw no advantage.

    This will give an idea of the relative competitiveness of each team then, as was already evident in Q1.

    Button got off to a good start, putting his Brawn ahead of his team mate Barrichello's car at the top of the times, on a 1m35.533, underlining the team's superiority. Red Bull also had a point to prove, with Mark Webber knocking in a lap good enough for third place, ahead of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

    The mad rush at the end of qualifying put the McLaren driver up to fourth, thanks to his fast-becoming-unique KERS, and several updates including developments to that ever-present rear diffuser.

    The most notable incident in Q1, however, came courtesy of Robert Kubica, after the BMW driver could only manage 18th position.

    Drivers knocked out were Sebastien Bourdais, Nelson Piquet, Robert Kubica, Adrian Sutil, Giancarlo Fisichella.

    Qualifying session 2 - Red Bull send out a warning

    The session got off to a fast start, with the two Williams drivers initially swapping first place. An end was soon put to this, as Rubens Barrichello completed a flying lap to top the times, to subsequently be knocked off by Red Bull's Mark Webber on a charge.

    Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari was shown on the world feed as slowing down and suffering an apparent problem between turns three and five, but the red car seemed to heal itself and Kimi could continue with his session.

    Another driver with problems was Sebastian Vettel, the German not leaving the garage until the very last possible moment in the session. The Red Bull team did not seem worried, but it is unlikely that leaving the garage so late was a strategic decision.

    Buemi put in an impressive performance, pushing his Toro Rosso up to eighth, the position previously occupied by Jenson Button, who had jumped up to first.

    When Vettel finally did drive out of the pitlane and on to complete a lap, he set the fastest time of the weekend so far on a 1m35.1sec. When the chequered flag fell his team mate Webber confirmed Red Bull's strong pace in second.

    It was Buemi that starred in Q2, however, the rookie fast enough to graduate to the final qualifying session. While the Swiss driver starred, another shock came in the form of Felipe Massa's early qualifying exit, the Brazilian only mustering enough speed to start tomorrow's race from thirteenth.

    It would also be worth noting that Kovalainen's demise meant only one McLaren would be in Q3, and that the likely reason for the Finn's exit was due to an obstruction by Sebastian Vettel.

    Nick Heidfeld, Heikki Kovalainen, Felipe Massa, Timo Glock and Kazuki Nakajima were knocked out, leaving the final ten drivers to battle it out for pole position.

    Qualifying session 3 - Vettel amazes

    So with one Ferrari, one McLaren, yet both Red Bulls and Brawns fighting for pole, final qualifying emphasised just how much the pecking order has changed since last year.

    Rosberg, Raikkonen, Alonso and Barrichello all traded the head of the timesheets as the session opened, with Webber and Button both setting laps as well. When Hamilton came to finish his fast lap, it appeared he was struggling with cornering speed, and the McLaren was generally down on pace - possibly due to a heavier fuel load.

    Sebastian Vettel elected to only complete one run in the final session, maybe to preserve tyres or fuel load, the latter the most likely.

    Buemi finalised his excellent Saturday afternoon by qualifying 10th, just behind the McLaren of Hamilton.

    When the chequered flag fell, Button, Barrichello, Webber, Vettel and Alonso were all out on flying laps. It was Webber who came through first, to reach the top spot by a staggering six-tenths of a second.

    Jenson Button came through, looking for a hat-trick of pole positions, but had to settle for second as he slotted behind the Australian.

    Vettel was next, he finished an incredible lap to take provisional pole position, but had to wait an agonising few seconds to see whether his joy would be short-lived.

    It wasn't - Barrichello came through in third, Alonso then pushed him to fourth as the Spaniard finished second, and the grid was decided.

    Renault-powered Red Bull secured their first ever pole position, Vettel his second, and the post-session press conference with the top three drivers featured a Renault 1-2-3.

    It was a fantastic acheivement from Sebastian, the young German was ecstatic, regardless of fuel-load, and will be looking for his second Formula One win on Sunday.

    One thing to note however, is that there is a chance that where Heidfeld was penalised for doing the same last year, Vettel will be nervous this evening that his impeding of Heikki Kovalainen could come back to haunt him, and if McLaren decide to appeal, Red Bull will be very wary that their driver could face a grid-drop.

    It was a very interesting - and joyous - qualifying session, and if this afternoon was anything to go by, it's going to be a very exciting race tomorrow.


    Unofficial and provisional qualifying times from Shanghai:

    1. Sebastian Vettel - 1m36.184
    2. Fernando Alonso - 1m36.381
    3. Mark Webber - 1m36.466
    4. Rubens Barrichello - 1m36.493
    5. Jenson Button - 1m36.532
    6. Jarno Trulli - 1m36.835
    7. Nico Rosberg - 1m37.39
    8. Kimi Raikkonen - 1m38.089
    9. Lewis Hamilton - 1m38.595
    10. Sebastien Buemi - 1m39.321

    11. Nick Heidfeld - 1m35.975
    12. Heikki Kovalainen - 1m36.032
    13. Felipe Massa - 1m36.033
    14. Timo Glock - 1m36.066
    15. Kazuki Nakajima - 1m36.193

    16. Sebastien Bourdais - 1m36.906
    17. Nelson Piquet - 1m36.908
    18. Robert Kubica - 1m36.966
    19. Adrian Sutil - 1m37.669
    20. Giancarlo Fisichella - 1m37.672


    Article by Ross - Source: www.turntwo.co.uk


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    Ross,
    Director of Operations
    ross@turntwo.co.uk
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