Vettel's late surge pips Button for pole

Flying Red Bull and Briton show brighter side of grand prix racing as budget cap impasse sends sport hurtling towards the buffers
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The Independent Online

They sent the A-Team, 2009 style, into Turkey yesterday.

Sebastian Vettel played the part of Mr T, but he is far from the only one who pities the fools that mess with the sport. Jenson Button was Hannibal, calmly organising everything and loving it when, as so often has been the case, a plan comes together.

Rubens Barrichello was the rubber-faced Murdoch. And thank the Lord for these guys, because they inject some much-needed grace and humour. They know how to smile and be happy, and right now F1 desperately needs that because behind the scenes the Mosley-Ecclestone Express is heading full tilt towards the buffers.

Mr T put his car on pole, but it was close. His Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber set the pace with 1 min 28.613sec, but moments later Button took that away with 1:28.421 for Brawn and then Barrichello pulled on to his bumper with 1:28.579. But Vettel's final run yielded 1:28.316.

Lewis Hamilton, struggling again in his McLaren, was only 16th after failing to get through the first qualifying session.

Vettel quickly made up ground after engine dramas on Friday to become the first man all season to be fastest in all three qualifying sessions. And the pole winner has always won here.

"We'll do our best to try and keep this statistic alive," he pledged. "We have a good chance here and a very good car, but qualifying was not easy. I wasn't that confident but I had a better feeling after Q1 and Q2, and finally we put the car on pole again. All the overnight changes seemed to work. Finally we made it and we are ahead of these white guys, and we think we have a very good race car for tomorrow."

As usual, there was good banter between the three fastest men. "So every poleman here has won," Button mused. "Well, we are going to try and change that tomorrow. This is a circuit where you can have a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to a good race, where you can overtake. The best team effort will win."

Barrichello will start on the cleaner side of the grid, right behind Vettel. "Much as I love Jenson as a friend, I hate him as a driver," he said.

"People think because I was second to Schumacher I will be second to Jenson, but I won't, I will fight him very, very hard. And I hope my side of the grid is better than his." Elsewhere in the paddock, however, nobody feels like laughing.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore said he is baffled why the teams and the FIA are still at loggerheads over cost-cutting plans. Eight of the 10 Formula One Teams Association members are quite happy to enter next year's championship if rules for a $45m (£28m) budget cap are delayed until 2011, and an interim cap of $100m is imposed instead, but they have been rebuffed by FIA president Max Mosley who seems hellbent on forcing his will upon them regardless of any counter-proposals.

There are serious fears now that when the entries for 2010 are announced this Friday Mosley will have granted only FOTA defectors Williams and Force India entries, together with a raft of new teams, many of whom are paper tigers. That might effectively force Brawn, Ferrari, McLaren, BMW, Toyota, Red Bull and Renault to consider their own breakaway series. Briatore, who does baffled quite well, said FOTA could not figure out how it had come to this ridiculous impasse.

"Honestly, we don't know. For us it's a surprise why it's so difficult," he said. "We want to be in Formula One. From day one, FOTA was never aggressive with anybody. We just want to participate in the championship, we want to cut costs, we want to have clear rules, we want to have governance.

"We are forgetting the fans. We're always forgetting these people. There is a lot of confusion now. It's very destructive. We're not bluffing because when you have the responsibility of three or four hundred people, it's not bluffing. These are people who go home and the next day we need to make sure that we have the money to pay their salaries," he said.

Sadly, whatever Mr T, Hannibal Button and Murdoch Barrichello do this afternoon, it won't be enough. The way things are, the problems are so serious that even a visit from BA Baracus himself to Paris on 12 June would probably be insufficient to save F1 from itself.

Today's grid

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) RedBull-Renault; 2. Jenson Button (GB) Brawn-Mercedes; 3. Rubens Barrichello (Br) Brawn-Mercedes; 4. Mark Webber (Aus) RedBull-Renault; 5. Jarno Trulli (It) Toyota; 6. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari; 7. Felipe Massa (Br) Ferrari; 8. Fernando Alonso (Sp) Renault; 9. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Toyota; 10. Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber; 11. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber; 12. Kazuki Nakajima (Japan) Williams-Toyota; 13. Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota; 14. Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes; 15. Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India-Mercedes; 16. Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes; 17. Nelson Piquet (Br) Renault; 18. Sébastien Buemi (Swit) Toro Rosso-Ferrari; 19. Giancarlo Fisichella (It) Force India-Mercedes; 20. Sébastien Bourdais (Fr) Toro Rosso-Ferrari.