2008 Turkish Grand Prix qualifying: Hat-trick of poles for Felipe Massa

Heikki Kovalainen, Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Istanbul, 2008, qualifying, 470150

Felipe Massa’s love affair with the Istanbul Park circuit goes on. He took his third pole position in a row at the circuit where he scored his first in 2006. It leaves him perfectly poised to turn the trick again in the race tomorrow.

Joining him on the front row is McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen. He and Lewis Hamilton, third, held championship leader Kimi Raikkonen back for fourth.

With Super Aguri missing from the grid and only 20 cars participating, the first two stages of qualifying would see five cars eliminated instead of six, with ten progressing to Q3 as usual.

Part one

Giancarlo Fisichella led the charge at the start of the first part of qualifying, knowing that wherever he qualified he would lose three places on the grid following his penalty for going through a red light in qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton moved to the top of the times early on with a 1’26.192 and then stayed in the pits. It took the Ferraris several attempt to beat it, Felipe Massa eventually putting in a 1’25.994.

Also lapping quickly late in the session were the Toyotas with Jarno Trulli and Timp Glock rising to fourth and fifth in the dying moments.

The battle at the other end of the times sheets was even more fierce. Sebastian Vettel defied expectations to get into Q2, leaving his team mate Sebastien Bourdais and, not surprisingly, both Force India cars behind.

Kazuki Nakajima failed to beat Vettel by a tenth of a second but the bigger surprise was Nelson Piquet behind him in 17th, knocked out in the first session just as he was in Melbourne.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part one

16. Kazuki Nakajima 1’27.547
17. Nelson Piquet Jnr 1’27.588
18. Sebastien Bourdais 1’27.621
19. Giancarlo Fisichella 1’27.807
20. Adrian Sutil 1’28.325

Part two

Nico Rosberg, Williams, Istanbul, 2008, qualifying, 470313

Ferrari returned to the fore in the second part of qualifying with Kimi Raikkonen topping the times sheets ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Late in the session Robert Kubica’s BMW took over third.

Further back a poor lap from Timo Glock saw him 15th, a full second slower than team mate Jarno Trulli, and knocked out of qualifying. Vettel slotted in 14th behind the two Hondas.

The last driver knocked out was Nico Rosberg in 11th, the Williams now clearly lagging behind the Renaults, Red Bulls and Toyotas on raw pace.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part two

11. Nico Roberg 1’27.012
12. Rubens Barrichello 1’27.219
13. Jenson Button 1’27.298
14. Sebastian Vettel 1’27.412
15. Timo Glock 1’27.806

Part three

David Coulthard, Red Bull-Renault, Istanbul, qualifying, 2008, 470313

With BMW not showing the pace of previous races, and Renault not going as light on fuel as they did in Spain, the battle for the front two rows was entirely between Ferrari and McLaren.

A third straight pole position at the Istanbul circuit for Felipe Massa rarely seemed in any doubt. He was comfortably quicker than anyone else – especially Lewis Hamilton, who lost a second in sector two on his first attempt at a flying lap.

Hamilton elected not to run a lap on the softer option tyres, feeling they were running low on grip late in the lap. He did his final effort on scrubbed hard tyres and it was enough to lift him into third place – albeit behind his team mate Heikki Kovalainen, who did use the softer tyres.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, three tenths of a section behind his team mate and just 0.007 off Hamilton.

Top ten drivers’ times for part three

1. Felipe Massa 1’27.617
2. Heikki Kovalainen 1’27.806
3. Lewis Hamilton 1’27.923
4. Kimi Raikkonen 1’27.936
5. Robert Kubica 1’28.390
6. Mark Webber 1’28.417
7. Fernando Alonso 1’28.422
8. Jarno Trulli 1’28.836
9. Nick Heidfeld 1’28.882
10. David Coulthard 1’29.959

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30 comments on 2008 Turkish Grand Prix qualifying: Hat-trick of poles for Felipe Massa

  1. The stewards stopped accepting protests about blocking after the Monza 2006 Alonso/Massa thing. So if there is an investigation (and I doubt it if nothing’s been said officially at this point) then it will be on the stewards’ own initiative

  2. Journeyer said on 10th May 2008, 16:53

    Ahhh… So it was Massa. I actually think that’s good news for Kimi’s chances, as it means there’s now a bigger chance he’s running on a heavier strategy.

    If he’s fourth at the end of Lap 1, he’ll definitely be on the podium and we may still see a Ferrari 1-2 by the end of the race, albeit one that’s led by Massa.

  3. Journeyer said on 10th May 2008, 16:55

    “Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, three tenths of a section behind his team mate and just 0.007 off Hamilton.”

    of a section? Maybe you mean of a second?

    Also, looking at the times, the gap between Kimi and Hammy is 0.013, not 0.007.

  4. frecon said on 10th May 2008, 17:06

    Istanbul is one of the circuits which penalize strongly high loads of fuel. Each lap cars are 0.1 sec faster.

    Without knowing strategys is hard to say which car was better, but a different strategy could explain differences between Kimi and Felipe

  5. Incidentally, ITV mentioned that the fuel hose was connected to Hamilton’s car for 8-9 seconds. I’m not sure if this is much help to the strategy calculations…

  6. Kanyima said on 10th May 2008, 17:54

    Alianora, La Canta, having fuelled and refuelled cars, surely the fuel pump incident with Lewis shouldn’t be a big issue to get round. It would certainly have been a blip that would be provided for in the strategy.

  7. Well done to Felippe, he really is out on his own with this track….seems to similar to Brazil.

    For tomorrow, would like to see the real Ferrari pace, and Heikki doing well…

  8. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 10th May 2008, 18:43

    Kanyima, I think he meant it was an indication of how much fuel Hamilton was carrying.

  9. Kanyima said on 10th May 2008, 19:10

    My bad! The sangria is getting to my head. Sorry Alianora. Thanks Keith.

  10. Lady Snowcat said on 10th May 2008, 21:05

    Kimi pretty cool in his comments after qualy actually mentioning fuel and strategy and sounding too worried…

    Last time he was lighter, at Bahrain, he didn’t mention fuel so I am hopeful… and his was the biggest change from Q2 to Q3…

    Kimi’s starts have been pretty good and he’s certainly got past Lewis a few times… although he’s on the dirty side of the track…

  11. Kanyima said on 10th May 2008, 22:12

    May I be the first to predict Hamilton’s first win from behind? I know I sound like a fruit cake but the chances are high it might happen. This is what I think: Massa, although comfy at the moment can be unpredictable under pressure. It’s Heiki’s first front row so he might be lax or nervous to control his position out of the blocks and given Hamilton’s overtaking manouvres at the first corner, it is more likely than ever. Kimi will of course be keeping a hawkish eye on what’s happening and he may be the biggest threat to a an overambitious front pack. I’m only thinking Kubica might keep him watching his mirrors but you just never know what Kimi is going to do.

  12. Daniel said on 10th May 2008, 22:22

    If Kimi gets blocked by the McLarens, and Felipe manages to keep ahead out of the first corner, I think he’ll have an easy ride… otherwise, there will be some tension on the pit stops, but I still believe Massa will win his third Turkish Grand Prix, and I’ll be proud to say, “Massa, the Sultan!”

    Lets wait and se…

  13. Daniel said on 10th May 2008, 22:26

    Kanyima: I would disagree about Massa… I must agree that he is inconsistent, but I think he gives his best when he’s under pressure, and tends to make more mistakes when his impatient or unattentive…

    Lets not forget he delivered two commanding wins in Bahrain, 2007 and 2008, after bad season starts…

  14. Kanyima, sorry for being too obtuse in my comment. Thanks for clearing up the resulting misunderstanding, Keith.

  15. M Smith said on 11th May 2008, 11:17

    Great qualifying performance by Vettel. Let’s hope he can at least finish this race.

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