Sebastian Vettel takes Turkish GP pole

Updated: May 7, 2011, 11:12 AM ET
Associated Press

ISTANBUL -- Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel again will lead from the front at the Turkish Grand Prix after the German driver secured his fourth straight pole position of the season Saturday.

Red Bull will start Sunday's race 1-2 on the grid after teammate Mark Webber posted the second-fastest time, with Nico Rosberg carrying over his impressive form in practice to take the third spot for Mercedes.

The 23-year-old Vettel showed that he had fully recovered from the crash that hampered his opening practice in the rain Friday and is in a perfect position to aim for a third Grand Prix win of the season.

"Straight away I felt comfortable in the car, felt the rhythm of the track very quickly," said Vettel, who clocked 1 minute, 25.049 seconds.

Webber's best lap was 1:25.454, while Rosberg managed 1:25.574.

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, who caught up to and beat Vettel at the Chinese Grand Prix, will start from fourth place, while two-time former champion Fernando Alonso tries to get Ferrari its first podium finish of the season from the fifth spot.

It was the 23-year-old Vettel's fifth straight pole overall. He led from the front to win the season-ending Abu Dhabi race and clinch the F1 title in November.

Neither Vettel nor Webber went out for a final run, sparing their tires for the race.

Vettel sat out all of Friday's second practice and had completed only four practice laps in the first.

Although his crash had been more spectacular than anything else -- debris spraying everywhere but Vettel unharmed -- he was relieved at how smoothly things went in qualifying.

Last year's race in Turkey sparked a feud between Vettel and Webber that lasted most of the season.

Red Bull lost out on a 1-2 sweep when their wheels touched as Vettel passed Webber on the inside, forcing Vettel to spin out of the race. That handed Hamilton and his McLaren teammate Jenson Button a 1-2 finish.

"It was a different atmosphere for sure; it was a different race," Webber said. "We don't know how the race will evolve [on Sunday]. At certain times we may be close to each other."

They also may have Rosberg to contend with.

The German driver has been near-perfect so far in Istanbul, finishing second-fastest in the first two practices, and fourth in the third session Saturday morning.

Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher's Mercedes had the second-fastest time in the third practice, but the brief excitement at his return to the front of the grid was quickly dispelled when the 42-year-old placed only eighth in qualifying.

"Understandably, I am not happy at all with today's qualifying," Schumacher said. "It was just strange -- it seemed that the more I pushed on my last lap, the more went wrong.

"I was at the limit of what I had in my hand, but the car was just sliding around and therefore I never got into my rhythm. It's a real shame after this morning's promising session."


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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