Istanbul Park: Free Practice 3 & Qualification

More talk about movement today, this time it was focusing on Daniel Ricciardo slipping into a Toro Rosso seat as soon as Silverstone, if Jaime Alguersuari or Sebastien Buemi fail to start winning consistent points. Buemi and Alguersuari, like Sebastian Vettel, were nurtured by Red Bull and were signed to the Red Bull Junior Team. However the disparity between then, Buemi consistently getting better results and more points sees Alguersuari in a vulnerable position come contract time. Worries about tyre degradation are somewhat unfounded, previous suggestions for a 4 pit stop race are looking unlikely as the Pirelli rubber is standing up well against the might of turn 8.

Free Practice 3:

  • Ferrari:  Alonso said his spin yesterday was due to using DRS too early, but his luck did not improve as the solid reliability they experienced early on dissipated. He was forced back to the pits with his car stuck in 6th gear, suggesting more hydraulic issues. Massa also had a few uncomfortable moments, but sticks on a set of options for a brief spell at the top.
  • Force India: No issues in the session, but Sutil gets ahead of di Resta.
  • Hispania: Karthikeyan struggled over the bumpy track surface.
  • Lotus: Had a minor fire in one of their trucks last night, Kovalainen did not put it out, but did stay ahead of Trulli.
  • McLaren: Solid running from both drivers, with good reliability and no visible errors.
  • Mercedes: Rosberg is strong from the start, and Schumacher quickly follows suit climbing on top of him on the timesheet.
  • Red Bull: Webber is out early with flo-vis paint on to monitor air flow over the rear wing. Vettel’s ‘Kinky Kylie’ is all fixed and he is on long runs to make up for his lost practice session yesterday. However it was rubber gloves to the ready for Vettel after a failed KERS test on track. The KERS issues was a cooling one, suggesting the tight Newey packaging could be the cause. But it’s a non issue for the champ as he ends the day with a familiar P1.
  • Renault: Petrov mixed it up with the front runners and got ahead of both Ferraris. Heidfeld seemed to be struggling for pace, but of course we don’t know the programme/set up he was on.
  • Sauber: Perez had a helmet change as he original one was too large, but manages a healthy P11. Kobayashi just squeezes ahead of the bottom 3 teams.
  • Toro-Rosso: Alguersuari had a ‘moment’ and got out of his car pretty sharpish, shortening his session, but word from the team was that is was driver error and he rejoined the others on the track. Buemi had a much better practice, again finishing ahead of his teammate by some way.
  • Williams: Not much separated the drivers, but Barrichello was down in P15 and Maldonado was ahead on P12, far from ideal.
  • Virgin:  D’Ambrosio gets a 5 grid place penalty for setting his fastest time, therefore not backing off during a yellow flag. Neither him or Glock are using the new exhaust as it is running too hot, this component was expected to give them a time boost on track.

Top FP3 times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:26.037
2 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:26.038
3 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:26.404

Read: Full Results

Qualifying:

Again we start with everyone at the top of the hour,and we lose 7 each time before the pole position shoot out in Q3 with the final 10. Eddie Jordan is back, but is in muted charcoal tones…saving something for race day perhaps?

Q1 Kobayashi is out first for this 20 minute session, but during his first lap his engine cuts out (fuel pump failure) and being unable to get past the pit lane line under his own steam he is the first to fall in this session. Vettel may still be having KERS issues but it doesn’t stop him dominating the top spot, with Webber a few hundredths behind on primes. Ferrari are fairly quiet after an engine change for Massa and more hydraulic woes for Alonso, the Brazilian goes out on the options to go P1 (just). Schumacher was seen to be blocking Hamilton when the Brit was on a hot lap, we’ll have to see if anything comes from that. Kovalainen pulls out a blinder and goes P18, just behind Barrichello. Liuzzi also had a good session, splitting the Virgin drivers.

Out in Q1 are: KOV, DAM, LIU, GLO, TRU, KAR, KOB, but all are within the 107% rule (Kobayashi’s previous laps get him past the 107 rule).

Q2 Schumacher out first this time, improves on his time from Q1 but not enough to stick at the top, but after using his ‘magic paddle’ he gets into Q3 after a brief moment in the drop-out zone. The McLaren’s come alive in this session with both drivers under 1:26.500 on the primes. Renault leaves it late to join the track, but both go through, Heidfeld pushing Barrichello out in this session. However Williams will be pleased that they were so close to Q3. The front runners went out early and set blistering times, but mindful of the tyres they spend the majority of the time in the pits. Sutil edges out di Resta, ending his run of being out-qualified by the rookie.

Out in Q2 are: BAR, SUT, DIR, MAL, PER, BUE, ALG

Q3 Petrov out first for the pole shoot out. Button quickly follows as he was unhappy with set up during Q2, a change in tyre pressure was made as he aims to close in on his teammate. Options on, low fuel and Button goes top, but is then beaten by Alonso, who is then overtaken by Webber and then the big surprise, Vettel in pole. Thinking they have done enough, and with saving a set of options in mind both Red Bull drivers park in their garages and exit the cars. McLaren burn another set, but end up on the dirty side of the track and neither will be happy with that. Massa doesn’t set a time, and Alonso can only manage P5 saying it was all he could get out of the car. Petrov, Schumacher and Heidfeld fail to get under 1:26.

Top Qualifying times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:25.049
2 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:25.454
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:25.574

Read: Full Results

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