Sebastian Vettel has vowed to disprove his and Red Bull Racing's critics who claim that his stunning triumph in the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai earlier this year was achieved solely due to the torrential conditions favouring his car over that of Brawn GP and that he is only able to win in the wet – by converting his third Formula 1 pole position into his third victory in dry conditions in the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul.
The young German stormed to the top spot on the starting grid in qualifying, pipping current F1 World Championship leader Jenson Button by just over a tenth of a second and then declaring that he had 'expected to face more difficulties' [see separate story – click here
Carrying some 6kg less fuel on-board than Button, Vettel knows he needs to make good his escape when the starting lights go out to signal the start of the race – and he makes it clear that he plans on doing just that, to whittle down the 28-point advantage that his British rival has established over him from the opening six grands prix of the 2009 campaign.
“In Friday practice we had an engine failure and we were only able to do four laps,” the 21-year-old related, “but still I had a good feeling with the car and we worked overnight and made some changes, so I was quite confident. Going through Q1 and Q2 I had a better and better feeling, so in Q3 I was quite confident to be up there at the front. I think that that shows that even without a lot of running we are able to do the right thing, so that speaks for us.
“It was quite a surprise to be quickest in all of the sessions, though, and we obviously had a great day – it was very tight again, but finally we made it! In the last couple of races we tried very hard, and finally we are ahead of these white guys (Brawn), but the main thing comes on Sunday – there are no points for qualifying.
“Thanks to the team and again a great job also in the factory – some of the parts arrived at the last minute, so it was quite an effort to fix them to the car and we started with a bit of a delay, but the boys worked hard again and we did it, so everything is positive. I am in obviously the best position to start from and I'm very happy, especially after a difficult day on Friday.
“I think this circuit is quite different compared to the last couple of circuits, especially Monaco. It's probably more similar to Barcelona, and in Barcelona we were in good shape as well, so here we are again. I think a pole is always important – it's essential, the best position to start from. We will try our best to keep this statistic [of winning every time he has begun from pole in F1] alive, but it won't be easy. I think we have a very good chance here with a very competitive car, so I'm looking forward to the race.
“[China] was a very good race for us; obviously we got along well with the conditions, but we couldn't show how good we would probably have been in the dry, so we had no answer to that one. Now we are in a similar position, I think. Here it should be quite hot and dry, most likely, so let's see how we get on. I think we have done our homework so far, but the main demands come on Sunday when we have to race 58 laps around here.”
Also playing in Vettel's favour is the fact that the Turkish Grand Prix has never been won from any other position on the starting grid than P1 – and he admitted to feeling more comfortable in the knowledge that the KERS-equipped Ferraris are back in sixth and seventh positions at the start, so theoretically out of reach. Just that man Button to deal with, then.
“I was surprised because we expected them (Ferrari) to be more competitive,” the sport's youngest-ever grand prix winner confessed. “Maybe they are much heavier, but in the end it's good because I'm starting from first and Kimi [Raikkonen] is sixth, so no KERS car in my back this time. That's a good feeling already, but Sunday is a long day and for sure it won't be easy. It will be a tough fight against those two (Button and Rubens Barrichello) and also the guys behind. There's no reason to be too excited yet.”