Pole-sitter Mark Webber and third-placed team-mate Sebastian Vettel might have ultimately taken much of the credit for another superb Red Bull Racing qualifying performance ahead of this weekend's Turkish Grand Prix, but there was a third driver just as pivotal to the result, the team has revealed – Cengiz.
Red Bull was untouchable throughout the session around the Istanbul Park Circuit, with Vettel pacing both Q1 and Q2 – to the staggering tune of almost half a second in the former – and Webber picking up the mantle after the young German unexpectedly encountered 'weird' braking difficulties in the all-important top ten shoot-out.
The Australian's dominant Q3 form, indeed, not only maintained Red Bull's flawless 100 per cent pole position record thus far in F1 2010, but also meant the in-form driver of the campaign right now – and championship leader – has not been off the top spot on the starting grid since Shanghai over a month ago, when he was second, though McLaren-Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton pushed him close...
“Today went well,” acknowledged the New South Wales native. “We had a problem during practice this morning so I went out late for the first 'Prime' run. It meant I was therefore a little on the back foot going into qualifying, which wasn't ideal preparation, but we re-focussed and got ready.
“Some new parts were bolted onto the rear of my car about four minutes before I went out for Q1, which was a great effort by the guys to get them on in time. It's a great position to start tomorrow's race, but each event is unique and has its own challenges. We know the tyres get a hard time round here, so it should be an interesting race – I'm looking forward to it.”
“Q1 and Q2 were very smooth,” reported Vettel, who ultimately wound up the best part of five tenths shy of the sister RB6 as he got to grips with 'Randy Mandy' for the first time in a qualifying situation. “I was happy with the car and there were no problems. In Q3, the first lap was brilliant up to Turn Twelve, then under braking I slightly locked the front which was no issue, but it was very weird as the inside front just kept locking and never came back. Going into Turn 13 I was turning to the right and the wheels started turning again, and then the same thing going into Turn 14. I locked the inside wheel very easily [and] the car didn't seem to stop, so I lost time.
“On the second run I got confirmation in the first turn that there was a problem, as I hit the brakes and went straight – I lost the ability to stop the car and the inside wheel didn't do what it was supposed to. In Q1 and Q2 we were on top of the game, but in Q3 we were not, so it's quite frustrating. All weekend I have felt very good, particularly today. Third is still a good position; I'm on the clean side of the grid tomorrow and it's a long race. It's difficult to make up places now with the new regulations, but we'll see what we can do.”
Seven poles out of seven now in F1 2010 is indeed an admirable accomplishment for any team, but the energy drinks-backed outfit's team principal Christian Horner was quick to point out afterwards that it was not only Webber and Vettel's swiftness on-track that had cemented the outcome – but also, as the former had alluded, thanks to the alacrity of another team member away from it.
“Another great performance by Mark today for his third consecutive pole and the team's seventh of the year, which is a great achievement,” enthused the Englishman, a former racer himself. “It was difficult for Sebastian who, having been the quickest car during Q1 and Q2, experienced a problem in the last part of qualifying. We need to understand what it was, as it cost him quite a bit of time. However, to salvage third place is still excellent. I also have to say congratulations to Cengiz, one of our drivers, who delivered some last-minute parts to Mark's car just in time for the start of the session – so, three very fast drivers today.”
“Another impressive performance from Mark, who claimed his third pole in a row with the same engine – so we are really happy with our three pole engine!” added Fabrice Lom, chief track support engineer for RBR's engine-supplier Renault. “Our focus tomorrow is now to make it a three-win engine. It was a shame for Sebastian, who I think had the opportunity to claim pole position also today.
“Engine-wise, everything went smoothly, much better than yesterday when we had an engine failure on Mark's car. It wasn't a worrying one, but it's never good to have a failure during a race weekend, so we apologise to Mark for that. Let's hope we have a smooth day again tomorrow.”