Red Bull, Brawn up front at Turkish GP

Updated: June 6, 2009, 11:03 AM ET
Associated Press

ISTANBUL -- Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel edged Formula One championship leader Jenson Button of Brawn GP in qualifying to take the pole position for Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix.

Vettel was just a little more than one-tenth of a second faster than Button on Saturday to earn his third career pole.

The 21-year-old Vettel is buoyed by having won both races he started on the pole; all four previous winners at the Istanbul Park Circuit have also won from the first spot.

"We try our best to keep this statistic alive but it won't be easy," said Vettel, the only driver other than Button to win an F1 race this year.

Button fills the front row ahead of teammate Rubens Barrichello, who was third and will line up alongside Red Bull's Mark Webber in the second row.

"I got to grips with the car and got to the front row, which is where we want to be," said Button, who is vying for a fourth straight win to tighten his grip on the championship.

"Everybody loves statistics. But we're going to try and change that tomorrow."

Toyota's Jarno Trulli starts fifth ahead of 2004 winner Kimi Raikkonen, while Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa's bid for a fourth straight victory at Istanbul will begin from seventh.

Alongside Red Bull, Ferrari was expected to challenge Brawn GP after momentum-boosting performances at the last two races. Massa said that his car's balance was lacking in the final session after taking on more fuel.

"A podium won't be easy so we need to think about the points," said Massa, who hoped the car's KERS power-boost device could help him move up the grid at the high-speed track. "For sure we're not in a position to say we're fighting for victory."

Vettel was fastest on a slippery track in each of the three sessions to breathe some excitement into F1's championship after Button won from the pole at Barcelona and Monaco to extend his lead to 16 points over Barrichello and 28 over Vettel.

"Finally, we are ahead of these guys," Vettel said. "We had quite some new bits and they arrived last minute so the boys were working hard to put them in the car overnight. But we got it together."

Button has been deflecting suggestions that his five victories in six races had left the championship feeling, well, boring.

"It's been like that [exciting] most races -- except for Monaco -- but the races before that it was the same. It's down to getting the best out of the equipment and the best team effort tomorrow," the Briton said.

Barrichello is still looking for his first win in nearly five years and will go from No. 3 for the third straight race.

"I wish I could have pushed a little bit more on the second lap but I had traffic," the Brazilian said. "Everything is so close, I have a good car so I'm quite happy."

Renault's Fernando Alonso starts eighth, Nico Rosberg of Williams ninth and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica is 10th.

Defending F1 champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren failed to get out of the first qualifying session and will start 16th for the 58-lap race. Teammate Heikki Kovalainen did slightly better to start two places higher.

"I pushed as hard as I could today but I just had no grip out there," Hamilton said.

Alonso and teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. were two among many cars that dramatically skidded off-track. Piquet Jr. didn't re-emerge and starts 17th.

"It wasn't a usual straightforward qualifying session because the track picked up grip, but not as much as we expected," said Vettel, who will have to deal with warm track temperatures instead of rain, as he had in his wins at China and Monza last year.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press