Qualifying: Brawns in a Red Bull Turkey sandwich

The first big scalp went in Q1 with Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren) who could only manage 16th fastest lap in a car which in his word, ?Was getting worse and worse as the weekend progressed while the others got quicker. I don?t know where they found the extra time.?

Others to go out included Nelson Piquet (ING Renault) who was 17th quickest ahead of Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso), Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India) and Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso) who will be last on the grid.

At this stage Brawn GP duo of Button and Barrichello managed to scrape into Q2 while the Red Bull duo of Vettel and Mark Webber were also subdued. Neither team had yet shown their hands, that was to come later.

Q2 victims were in 11th placed Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber), 12th Kazuki Nakajima (AT&T Williams) who looked the best he has so far this year, 13th Timo Glock (Panasonic Toyota) who would have been disappointed with his showing considering team mate Jarno Trulli was second fastest in the session. Heikki Kovalainen (Vodafone McLaren) was 14th and Adrian Sutil (Force India) again impressing managing 15th.
In Q2 it started to become clear that Brawn GP and Red Bull Racing were leaving the best to last with Vettel setting the fastest Q2 time, Trulli followed by Button third quickest with both Ferrari?s looking to be contenders in Q3.

And so on to Q3 where it became apparent early on that it was again Red Bull versus Brawn GP with Ferrari looking to pick up the scraps. Webber was on a fast lap early on but went on to the runoff to waste the lap, he bounced back to top the timing screens briefly but was dislodged from the top as Button then Barrichello posted the fastest and second fastest laps until then. All eyes were on Vettel who was the only one who could disrupt order and he did so with a truly remarkable lap nab the top spot on the grid, ahead of the two Brawn?s and Webber. Brawns in a Red Bull sandwich.

“If early season form is anything to go by, the Red Bulls are lighter than we are but we will have to see,” Ross Brawn, referring to the fact that the FIA will publish the cars’ qualifying weights later on, told the BBC.

Sebastien Vettel (Red Bull Racing): “It is a? great day today. Finally we made it. Thanks to the team. A great job as the parts arrived last minute and they are working.? Let’s see tomorrow . As for today, the best is to have the best position. It is quite an advantage to start from this place for tomorrow in the race. Nothing will be easy with the high temperatures.This is the seventh race of the season. It is a tough season but I am really pleased. I was not so confident at the start of qualifying, but going through Q1 and Q2 I became more confident. It worked and that is the best. Still you can argue if hard tires are worth. But they seem to work much better. The circuit did improve. It was not certain which tires to choose at the end. Again it was difficult all during the session. We? made some changes. We are in the right direction. I am pleased to be ahead of the two. The race is tomorrow. No points for today! Ferrari was fast today. May be they are much heavier than us. No kers this time in my back. That is already a great feeling. It was not a straight forward session as it picks up grip but not so much. I am confident like I was in China, but it did not help at all because it was raining following day and it was a full reset of the set ups of the car. Tomorrow, most likely it is going to be dry. So it should be dry. This pole position is positive. We have done our homework. But no reasons to be so excited. The main deman will come tomorrow. This pole is very important. It is always difficult to know what to expect. Here is more similar to Barcelona. Not like Monaco. Speak to Jenson Button? he will confir that the pole is essential. It will be a tough fight. We do not know yet about the fuel loads. Let’s see tomorrow.”

Jenson Button (Brawn GP Formula) “I am second and front row. Yersterday was windy and a tough day for everyone. The car is much better. We worked all day and it is a great place to leave from for tomorrow’s race. I have finished all races on this track. We have a new balance here. The time is in the car. We were not sure yesterday where the pace was. A pity we could not get pole. I am happy to be P2.? We love all statistics. All drivers in pole have won here. We will try to change this tomorrow.It was difficult to choose which tyres to choose for qualifiyng. With the option tires I prefer the rolling feeling and we stayed with it in the session. Fuel load is possibly the question mark with the Ferraris. I was expecting Ferrari to be fast. This morning they were. So let’s see how it goes in the race.”

Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP): “I am third. This is great.? The car is very? consistent. I was very worried in Q2. I was not sure if I would have made it. But Q3 went well. I used to run the prime tires. I had three laps and I wished I would have pushed a bit more. Everything went very well. Everything is so close. I have a good car and I am happy to be able to start the race under these conditions. As much as I like Jenson as a friend, I hate him as a driver.? With my determination I hope to get where I want. I had a better feeling on the tires but it was hard to choose. There are no races at all on this track. So I hope that my tires are cleaner than Jenson’s. I questionned with the need if I needed three laps for a good result in qualifying. I lost the first two laps with traffic. So I pushed the third lap. I wish we knew how much it would be per tire. I had a great qualifying with a bit of? understeer contrary to Jenson who had a great session with a bit of oversteer. So it is difficult to judge.”