Sebastian Vettel takes Turkish Grand Prix pole

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The Independent Online

Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel will again lead from the front at the Turkish Grand Prix after the German driver secured his fourth straight pole position of the season on today.

The Red Bulls will start Sunday's race 1-2 on the grid after teammate Mark Webber posted the second quickest time, with Nico Rosberg carrying over his impressive form in practice to take third spot for Mercedes.

The 23-year-old Vettel showed that he has fully recovered from the crash that hampered his opening, rain-hit practice on Friday, and is in a perfect position to aim for a third Grand Prix win of the season.

"Straight away I felt comfortable in the car, felt the rhythm of the track very quickly," said Vettel, who clocked 1 minute, 25.049 seconds. Webber's best lap was 1:25.454, while Rosberg managed 1:25.574.

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, who caught up and beat Vettel at the Chinese Grand Prix, will start from fourth place, while two-time former champion Fernando Alonso tries to get Ferrari its first podium of the season from fifth spot.

It was also the 23-year-old Vettel's fifth straight pole. He led from the front to win the season-ending Abu Dhabi race and clinch the F1 title in November.

Neither Vettel or Webber went out for a final run, sparing their tires for the race.

"It is a strange feeling because the others are on track and there is nothing you can do," Vettel said. "It's important to handle your tire situation."

Webber, however, felt he could have been a little faster.

"I would have liked to have been a bit closer but these cars are very complex," the Australian driver said. "In the end I'm happy with what I did. I would like to have had a couple more tenths to have the margin."

Vettel, who was patted on the back by Red Bull mechanics as he rejoined the paddock, looked thrilled at recovering his form. He sat out all of Friday's second practice and had completed only four practice laps in the first.

Although his crash had been more spectacular than anything else — debris spraying everywhere but Vettel unharmed — he was relieved at how smoothly things went in qualifying.

"I am happy and very pleased after a very bad shunt yesterday, and all the workload I managed to give to the mechanics yesterday," Vettel said. "Apologies to the team and mechanics. I damaged the car pretty much yesterday so we missed a session in the afternoon, but they fixed it for today, and we did a very good job."

Last year's race in Turkey sparked a feud between Vettel and Webber that lasted most of the season.

Red Bull lost out on a 1-2 sweep when their wheels touched as Vettel passed Webber on the inside, forcing Vettel to spin out of the race. That handed Hamilton and his McLaren teammate Jenson Button a 1-2 finish.

"It was a different atmosphere for sure, it was a different race," Webber said. "We don't know how the race will evolve (on Sunday), at certain times we may be close to each other."

They may have Rosberg to contend with as well.

The German driver has hardly made a mistake so far in Istanbul, finishing second fastest in the first two practices, and fourth-quickest in the third session on Saturday morning.

"It's really great to see the progress we are making, strategy-wise we are very strong," he said. "I'm confident we can have a really good race."

Vettel had set himself up nicely for qualifying with the fastest time in the third practice, in which he was just 0.001 ahead of seven-time champion Michael Schumacher's Mercedes, and in which Webber was third quickest.

But the brief excitement at Schumacher's returning to the front of the grid was quickly dispelled when the 42-year-old placed only eighth in qualifying.

Drivers had profited from the good practice weather to test their KERS power-boost systems and moveable rear wings, which are designed to help overtaking.