Mark Webber has qualified on pole position for the third successive Grand Prix at Istanbul. Webber’s time of 1:26.295 was 0.138 seconds faster than the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton and 0.465 seconds quicker than his Red Bull Racing teammate Sebastien Vettel.
This weekend hasn’t been easy going for Webber who suffered an engine failure late in yesterday’s final practice session. Speaking at the post-qualifying press conference Webber said, “Obviously Friday was a little bit disrupted, but not massively so, to be honest. This morning, also, we were not having the easiest P3.
“Getting ready for quali things started to get a little bit better. I was a little bit on the back foot going in. But I knew I could dig deep, keep going and get something out of it. In the end it turned out okay.”
Of the previous five Grands Prix held at Istanbul Park the pole sitter has won four times. Ominously for his rivals Webber expects his car to show better race pace than it did during qualifying, “I’m more comfortable with tomorrow than I am with out and out pace. So, I’m starting in the right place.
“We’ve got, potentially, one of the more interesting races tomorrow. We’re optimistic we can get a good result from there, for sure.”
Vettel, who has been outclassed by Webber in the last two races had a new chassis for today’s qualifying and was expecting a better performance. The young star was visibly upset during portions of the press conference.
This was most notable when Webber was talking about the team’s strategy for qualifying. Apparently Vettel was scheduled to come out before Mark for the final laps in Q3, but in the end it was Webber who was out first and able to set the pace.
Webber explained, “I don’t know what happened, it should have been me second, but I think we left too early. We need to see what happened on the pit wall.” While Webber was making those comments Vettel expressed his ire by whispering to himself, rolling his eyes with a wry smile and shaking his head.
When it was his turn to talk Vettel complained of car issues during the final qualifying session, “The inside front just kept locking and never came back. In Q1 and Q2 we were top of the game and then in Q3 we were not any more, so it’s a bit frustrating.”
It would appear there is a growing sense of anxiety in the Red Bull camp, at least from the Vettel side of the garage. Vettel is often referred to as a World Champion in waiting, is his frustration simply a case of pressure building due recent results from a less fancied and older teammate? Is it a case of his relative youth allowing signs of immaturity to emerge? Or is there more to it, Vettel was clearly unhappy at being out behind Webber in Q3.
Whatever the case is inside the Red Bull Racing team, the hearts and minds of most Australian F1 fans will be hoping Webber’s supremacy over Vettel continues.
[Pics: Red Bull/Getty Images]