Ferrari's Felipe Massa put his Ferrari on pole for the Grand Prix of Turkey for the third straight year. His run late in the session knocked McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen, back from a major shunt in Barcelona, off the pole by 2/10ths of a second. Kovalainen, once again outpaced his much heralded teammate Lewis Hamilton, who will start 3rd another 1/10th of a second back.
Massa's Ferrari teammate and championship point leader Kimi Raikkonen, who was fastest in Q2, will start only 4th after getting caught behind Fernando Alonso on his flying lap.
Robert Kubica was 5th in his BMW ahead of Mark Webber's Red Bull, Fernando Alonso's Renault and Jarno Trulli's Toyota.
Massa likes the Istanbul track as it fits his style. He has won here the last two years from pole and looks to make it three in a row tomorrow. Massa turned the fastest lap overall, a 1:25.994s in Q1. No one else could get into the 25 second barrier but his Ferrari teammate came closest in Q2.
Despite spending huge sums of money, the Honda team continued to stink up the joint, only managing 12th and 13th on the grid.
Team-by-team summary: Saturday, Turkey
Felipe Massa truly is the master of the Istanbul Park layout, capturing his third straight pole position here and targeting a trio of Turkish wins. After a less than perfect lap, Kimi Raikkonen qualified fourth, behind both McLarens. "There's a question mark over fuel loads," the Finn noted.
Lewis Hamilton, at the wheel of a few scruffy laps on Saturday, said in the FIA press conference that choosing hard tires rather than soft ones for his final Q3 assault was in hindsight the "wrong decision", as he qualified just behind his teammate Heikki Kovalainen. The Finn's front row berth is the first of his career.
The BMWs were worryingly off the pace in all three practice sessions this weekend, but Robert Kubica ultimately qualified fifth, behind the four faster Ferraris and McLarens. "We were expecting a little bit more after finishing P2 in Q2," said Kubica. Nick Heidfeld made the Q3 cut, but he starts just ninth as he continues to struggle to meet his Polish teammate's speed.
Mark Webber and David Coulthard were spectacularly P1 and P3 respectively in morning practice, and ultimately settled in solid sixth and tenth places within 'Q3' in qualifying.
Fernando Alonso's deceiving P2 in the damp morning became P7 on the grid. Nelson Piquet has been off the Spaniard's pace all weekend; the gap was six tenths in the morning, and seven tenths when he failed even to progress through Q1. "I am extremely disappointed today," he said.
Eighth on the grid for Jarno Trulli, but teammate Timo Glock - despite being on the pace all weekend - had a front wheel problem and ultimately qualified a full second behind Trulli, at the tail of the 'Q2' pack (15th).
Nico Rosberg was fourth in the now customary topsy-turvy Saturday morning practice, but he couldn't squeeze into 'Q3' in the qualifying hour. Kazuki Nakajima languished near the backmarkers all day and was the fastest runner to miss even the 'Q1' cut. "We expected him to be slightly behind as we didn't have some recent aero updates available for him," technical director Sam Michael said.
Neither made it through to 'Q3', but Rubens Barrichello at least narrowly pipped teammate Jenson Button to twelfth place on the grid for his historic 257th official start. "It's a long way forward to get points from here," said Button.
After a bad Spanish outing, Sebastian Vettel is back on song in Turkey, and he even made the 'Q2' cut, unlike his teammate Sebastien Bourdais, who criticized the Force India drivers for holding him up. "I don't know what those guys were doing on their out lap," he said, angrily lamenting his eighteenth grid spot.
Despite previously waging legal action against Super Aguri's use of customer cars, Force India must now be ruing the team's collapse after qualifying clearly on the last row of the grid in Turkey. Adrian Sutil is still struggling to keep up with Giancarlo Fisichella, but the veteran Roman will line up dead last due to his three-position grid penalty for jumping the red light on Friday.