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Qualifying analysis - Brawn's sternest challenge yet 06 Jun 2009

Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix BGP 001.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Saturday, 6 June 2009 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Saturday, 6 June 2009 (L to R): Timo Glock (GER) Toyota with team mate Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Saturday, 6 June 2009 The Ferrari F2009 of Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2009 in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Saturday, 6 June 2009 Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Saturday, 6 June 2009

There were mixed opinions on whether the hard Bridgestone prime tyre or the softer option was the answer for qualifying. Both polesitter Vettel and front-row man Button used the former, whereas Barrichello in third relied on the primes and thought they worked very well. In the fuel stakes, Vettel weighed in at 649.5 kg which put Button’s 655.5, Barrichello’s 652.5 and Webber’s 656 into decent perspective. Alonso was lightest of the top ten at 644.5…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 28.316s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 28.613s, P4

Vettel was the lightest of the frontrunners. After Friday’s engine failure the German was relieved to make up lost ground, and that late-arriving new parts had been fitted to the RB5s after a late night from the mechanics. His run to pole was undramatic, and Webber’s performance in fourth was also strong given his fuel load. Brawn face their sternest challenge yet thanks to the Red Bulls’ performance.

Brawn
Jenson Button, 1m 28.421s, P2
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 28.579s, P3

After their period at sea on Friday, when track conditions and high winds left both of them scratching their heads, Button and Barrichello were relieved when it was business as usual in qualifying. On fuel-corrected weight, they were still ahead of the Red Bulls, and as Button pointed out, the race will be all down to which team make the best job of things.

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, 1m 28.666s, P5
Timo Glock, 1m 27.795s, P13

One happy, one disappointed. That was Toyota’s driver score. Trulli was the former, in a solid fifth on the prime tyre that went some way toward assuaging the embarrassment of Monaco. Glock used the option but couldn’t repeat his morning practice speed after making a mistake in the final sector of his last Q2 lap.

Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 28.815s, P6
Felipe Massa, 1m 28.858s, P7

Raikkonen said the balance of his F60 was better than it had been in morning practice, but that even on a light fuel load in Q1 and Q2 it was too slow. Like others, the reds struggled for grip as they battled to get their Bridgestones working optimally. Massa reported decent balance on a light fuel load, but oversteer, mainly on the option tyre, with race fuel aboard. The Ferraris were running similar fuel weights to the Brawns, so on this occasion the red cars were not quite as quick as they had seemed in Monaco, even though Massa had set a blistering pace in morning practice.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 29.075s, P8
Nelson Piquet, 1m 28.582s, P17

Alonso said that Q2 was really difficult and just scraped through to Q3 in 10th place. Piquet slid out of contention in Q1 when his R29 half spun in Turn 8, gripped, then understeered off the road. The cause turned out to be the loss of a brake duct, which had caused the brakes to overheat.

Williams
Nico Rosberg, 1m 29.191s, P9
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 27.629s, P12

Rosberg said he had some understeer in Q3 which he thought cost him a place on the grid, but wasn’t too unhappy as it left him on the clean side. Nakajima was one of many to say how difficult the tyre choice was. He struggled with the option in Q1, and switched to the prime for Q2, but yet again failed to progress to Q3.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 29.357s, P10
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 27.521s, P11

Things were better for BMW Sauber here than they had been in Monaco, which was a relief for the team. Kubica said the new aero package was an improvement, but that the F1.09 still lacked pace. Heidfeld said he had mixed feelings, annoyed that he missed the top 10 by a small margin but happy with progress overall. He was seventh in Q2 until he met traffic, which dropped him to 11th and out of Q3.

McLaren
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 28.207s, P14
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 28.318s, P16

McLaren had expected to struggle here, with their downforce problem in high-speed corners, and both drivers had to use the prime tyre to make the MP4-24 work as well as it did. Kovalainen made it through to Q2, but Hamilton said he simply didn’t have the grip to make it through from Q3.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 28.391s, P15
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 28.717s, P19

Sutil was very pleased to be 15th, ahead of his old mate Hamilton, and admitted that he had not expected such a trouble-free run to Q2. Fisichella had a brake problem in the morning as the fronts kept locking. In qualifying his best lap was spoiled by yellow flags for Piquet’s spin.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 28.708s, P18
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 28.918s, P20

Once again Buemi aced Bourdais, but both lacked grip and struggled on the option tyre.

David Tremayne