Turkish GP 2007 qualifying: Massa back at the front

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Istanbul, 2007 2 | Ferrari MediaFelipe Massa will start the Turkish Grand Prix from pole position for the second year in a row after an exciting and (thankfully) controversy-free qualifying session.

Tomorrow offers the prospect of another battle between the Brazilian and Lewis Hamilton, who share the front row of the grid after a late surge from the Briton.

Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso share the second row of the grid.

Part one

Up front the top four were the usual suspects – Kimi Raikkonen was fastest though Fernando Alonso (second) and Felipe Massa (third) claimed all the quickest sector times. Lewis Hamilton took fourth.

But the battle to escape the last six places on the grid was the scene of the best action.

Honda, Istanbul, 2007 | Hondaracingf1.comSakon Yamamoto was clearly struggling with turn nine – he ran wide on his first lap and spun on a later effort, and was a solid last, 1.6s slower than team mate Adrian Sutil.

But as the drivers prepared for their final laps the four-tenths gap between the two Toyota drivers – Jarno Trulli 11th and Ralf Schumacher 17th – showed how slender the margin of survival was.

Mired in the bottom six with the Spykers and Schumacher were the two Super Aguris and Sebastian Vettel’s Toro Rosso.

Only Anthony Davidson would escape the bottom six in the dying stages with a peach of a lap, over six-tenths faster than team mate Takuma Sato, that put him eighth.

That dropped Liuzzi out of qualifying but he may have taken some satisfaction from beating Vettel by six tenths of a second.

Schumacher, who made it into the final part of qualifying on the last three occasions, complained of rear tyre lock-ups on his lap and finished 18th. But after their poor showing at the Hungaroring, both Hondas made it through.

Bottom six drivers’ times for part one

17. Vitantonio Liuzzi 1’28.798
18. Ralf Schumacher 1’28.809
19. Takuma Sato 1’28.953
20. Sebastian Vettel 1’29.408
21. Adrian Sutil 1’29.861
22. Sakon Yamamoto 1’31.479

Part two

Robert Kubica, BMW, Istanbul, 2007 | BMWThe second part of qualifying suggested there was nothing to chose between the top four drivers. A neat lap by Fernando Alonso put him first with a 1’26.841, but fourth placed Massa was less than two tenths of a second behind, Raikkonen and Hamilton filling the gap.

It was even closer between the two BMW drivers who posted identical lap times of 1’27.253, Robert Kubica setting his first.

Further back there was another fine battle between the drivers trying to escape the bottom six. Davidson vaulted into eighth with an excellent 1’28.002 but faster laps from Giancarlo Fisichella, Nico Rosberg and Trulli dropped him to 11th.

Alexander Wurz’s tale of woe in qualifying continued, finishing 16th over six tenths slower than team mate Nico Rosberg in seventh.

The Hondas and Red Bulls were also knocked out.

Bottom six drivers’ times for part two

11. Anthony Davidson 1’28.002
12. Mark Webber 1’28.013
13. David Coulthard 1’28.100
14. Rubens Barrichello 1’28.188
15. Jenson Button 1’28.220
16. Alexander Wurz 1’28.390

Part three

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Istanbul, 2007 | Ferrari MediaAfter the controversy of Hungary, Raikkonen sat at the head of the queue to leave the pits ahead of Hamilton and Massa. Alonso was conspicuously kept back in the pits until the second the session got underway.

That left the top ten battle comprising the top four teams – McLaren, Ferrari, BMW and Renault – plus Trulli’s Toyota and Rosberg’s Williams.

Once the drivers began the competitive laps the battle at the front remained close. Felipe Massa’s 1’27.546 was just 0.054s quicker than Alonso in third. But Hamilton was a full four-tenths behinds.

Heidfeld moved into fifth ahead of Kubica, with Rosberg and Trulli ahead of the Renaults of Kovalainen and Fisichella.

Looking for an advantage Alonso gambled on his skill for heating tyres up quickly being able to make the harder tyres a workable option for a qualifying lap – everyone else was using softs. But the gamble failed to net him a faster lap, leaving the Spaniard fourth.

Kimi Raikkonen looked set for a quick lap until he twitched wide at the penultimate bend. That let Hamilton through to snatch pole position with a 1’27.373.

Fortunately Massa was on hand to salvage Ferrari pride – grabbing pole from Hamilton by less than five hundredths of a second.

Further back Kubica took fifth off team mate Heidfeld and Kovalainen jumped up into seventh. He once again beat his team mate, with Fisichella almost a second slower in tenth behind Rosberg and Trulli.

Top ten drivers’ times for part three

1. Felipe Massa 1’27.329
2. Lewis Hamilton 1’27.373
3. Kimi Raikkonen 1’27.546
4. Fernando Alonso 1’27.574
5. Robert Kubica 1’27.772
6. Nick Heidfeld 1’28.037
7. Heikki Kovalainen 1’28.491
8. Nico Rosberg 1’28.501
9. Jarno Trulli 1’28.740
10. Giancarlo Fisichella 1’29.322

Photos: Ferrari media, Hondaracingf1.com, BMW, Ferrari media

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12 comments on Turkish GP 2007 qualifying: Massa back at the front

  1. Incredible speed, Keith – but where’s Heidfeld?

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th August 2007, 13:38

    More to the point – why are there two Alonsos? Fixed!

  3. Ben Goldberg said on 25th August 2007, 13:58

    Now the question is who is starting with more fuel. I would guess it’s the Ferrari’s.

  4. Number 38 said on 25th August 2007, 14:38

    My European friends lament commentary from some chap named James Allen but we here in teh USA have to tollerate the likes of David Hobbs, the man drives us nuts and the closing seconds of Q3 were truly classic “Hobbs”….. Cheering Hamilton when he clocked “1” “Atta boy, son” ….but then he became tongue tied and had to RELUCTANTLY change his song when Massa clocked the final “1”. Sometimes I turn the volume down and just WATCH the
    action on TV and ‘Live Timing’ on the computer.
    Soooooo the Ferraris start one behind the other, the McLarens start one behind the other, my question is: Will Hamilton try to out run Massa to turn one or chop diagonally to cut off Kimi?

  5. Magnus said on 25th August 2007, 15:11

    Number 38: Depending on how bad the dirty side of track is he might not have to choose. Anyway, unless Massa messes up his start I don’t think Hamilton will try since Massa’s been pretty aggressive about holding his line at the start this year. Plus I don’t really think Massa is at all interested in finishing 2nd behind Hamilton at this point in the season.

    Some pretty impressive laps by Davidson too in Q1 and Q2 I must say, a shame he didn’t get into Q3.

  6. Journeyer said on 25th August 2007, 16:41

    I agree with Magnus. Hamilton will go for the win if the opportunity presents itself. Otherwise, he can afford losing 2pts to Massa, if he’ll gain 2 on Kimi and 3 on Alonso with it. :)

  7. Ben Goldberg said on 25th August 2007, 17:20

    Ya, Davidson’s laps were great, but what were even better were the section 3 times. In Q2, he was down I think 0.150 after S2 and then easily was in the top 10 (at that point) after S3. He really takes those last few corners very smoothly.

  8. Pitty Davidson did not make it to top 10, but 11th is better than 10th for his strategy options.

    How is this quali going to help Ralf in securing new contract …

    Button to P22 after engine change…

  9. Vertigo said on 25th August 2007, 20:15

    Ralf hasn’t got a hope at Toyota, he should be replaced by Ant Davidson!
    Great pole for Felipe but Kimi was the quickest driver of the day.

  10. Number 38 said on 26th August 2007, 1:32

    Well……I’ve been a Davidson supporter for years and years and finally a few others are waving the flag with me. Davidson to Toyota? That car is a 1/2 faster than the Super Aguri TODAY but…
    what’s their car for next year? Super Aguri seem to improve a little each time, Toyota don’t seem to improve at all! Let’s finish the season first.

  11. Daniel said on 26th August 2007, 4:19

    Massa’s showing again and again he’s the fastest driver, at least in qualifying. Because of that, he’s the only one, this year, with more poles than wins… Besides starting five times at the front, he and Raikkonen have four fastest laps each…
    Massa’s lacking a little luck and race consistence to become a champion… hope he’ll improve his statistics tomorrow with a third win…

  12. Number 38, I have to agree with you about the Davidson/Toyota thing – Ralf Shumacher isn’t the right driver for Toyota, Anthony Davidson could be, but if Davidson has any sense he’ll stay put and ride the Aguri wave up the grid. That qualifying performance was breathtaking.

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