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Saturday, June 06, 2009
Sebastian Vettel - Turkish Grand Prix
Image: © 2009 Wheat Images

Sebastian Vettel Takes Pole Position For The Turkish Grand Prix

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - In his Red Bull Racing Renault F1 car, German Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel put in a last-minute strong performance in Saturday's qualifying session in Istanbul, Turkey to take pole position for tomorrow's 2009 Turkish Grand Prix. The 21-year old Vettel, who has two career wins in Formula 1 had a strong qualifying session, and took pole away from Brawn Mercedes driver Jenson Button at the end of the Q3 qualifying session. The two were followed by Brawn Mercedes' Rubens Barrichello in third and Vettel's Red Bull Racing teammate, Mark Webber in fourth. Tomorrow's Turkish Grand Prix starting grid will therefore have on the first row - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing Renault) and Jenson Button (Brawn Mercedes), and on the second row - Rubens Barrichello (Brawn Mercedes) and Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing Renault).

Sebastian Vettel's best lap time in Saturday's qualifyoing was in the Q2 session with a time of 1min27.016, and Jenson Button was very close behind him with a Q2 lap of 1min27.230. In fact, all of the top ten drivers were able to get times in the 1min27's in Saturday's Q2 qualifying, which just shows how close tomorrow's race could be.

The Istanbul Otodrom circuit is 5.338 kms in distance and has some very sharp corners and high-speed braking zones. There are three sharp turns - turn 1, turn 9 and turn 12, and turn 12 is the most severe, because the F1 drivers slow down from over 300 km/h to less than 85 km/h going into the turn. The Otodrom is also an unconventional anti-clockwise circuit, which puts extra strain on the driver's necks. The driver's neck muscles are strengthened for clockwise circuits and the g-forces from high speed curves, but anti-clockwise means the completely opposite neck muscles are used, which for the drivers is not easy to get used to.

The Istanbul circuit also has a long high-speed sweeping corner at turn 2, in which the cars hit 7th gear and 285 km/h while maintaining a steady sweeping curve. Designed by Herman Tilke, and first raced on by Formula 1 in 2005, the Turkish Grand Prix circuit tests every aspect of a Formula 1 car's performance, and thus the race engineers and drivers need to find the right balance between high-speed straights  and high-speed corners, and maintain enough downforce for high entrance speed braking with cornering at the same time.

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