In the heat of a Turkish afternoon, little Felipe Massa came through with all guns blazing. Was it his turn to emerge as the man in form, the chance of the four-man roulette wheel that bounces one or another to the top with each succeeding race? Or is he really that good and held back lately only by bad luck? Whatever the reason, he is back in contention, making a nonsense of our judgement that Raikkonen has at last gained the upper hand. Flipper may be fourth in the points race but he is not down and out yet.Felipe MassaDetractors will say that Kimi made a slight error in his final lap, without which he would have been on pole; but Massa's lap was not exactly perfect either. And nor was Hamilton's, the young contender looking impressively confident and neat even so. There was very little to choose between Brit and Brazilian.Personally, I take the view that Kimi and Alonso were heavier on fuel yet again, gambling (and losing) on their experience and nerve to lift them above their upstart team mates. But the expected dominance of the Ferraris is not apparent yet and their target of winning all the remaining races looks unlikely to say the least. They will win again but not the whole lot.Behind the Big Four, the usual contenders battled it out with predictable results. The BMWs assumed their reserved spots in fifth and sixth, Kubica marginally quicker than Heidfeld for a change, and the Kovalainen/Rosberg show next up. It must be quite galling for their two teams to be unable to get the second driver up there too, although Fisichella managed to sneak his Renault into tenth - just.But what can one say about the Toyotas? Ralf has been quicker than Trulli all weekend but, come Q1, he was unaccountably slow, not even making it into the second session. How Trulli once again claimed ninth spot in what is effectively the same car is beyond explanation. I would say it was luck but, when it happens time and again, that excuse wears a bit thin.If there was a revelation in Istanbul, it came in the form of Anthony Davidson. For several minutes at the end of Q2 it looked as though he had dragged the Super Aguri into the top ten; that he was bumped in the dying seconds was desperately disappointing. By Webber's estimation, however, it is better to be eleventh than tenth, thanks to the fueling regulations, and so Ant has a consolation. I can only hope that his poor luck in the races stays away tomorrow.Davidson was also the only SA driver to shame the Hondas too. Barrichello and Button took up station just behind the Red Bulls; but it's better than losing out in Q1, I suppose.And so to the tail end - yes, I'm going to talk Toro Rosso here. Liuzzi was the man to feel sorry for, the Italian just missing the cut at the last moment. But he has the satisfaction of comprehensively trumping his much-hyped new team mate, Sebastian Vettel. SpeedTV excused the young German (he's a rookie and doesn't know the track) but I do not recall the same reservations when Vettel was amazing us with his qualifying performance at Indianapolis.Of course, Vettel is good - but Liuzzi is too. And, if the team bosses thought they would solve their problems by changing their drivers, I think they are in for severe disappointment soon.So, who will win tomorrow? By the modern principle of first corner lead wins the race, that would probably be Massa; but I'm going to stick my neck out here and predict a win for Raikkonen. Apart from anything else, I just hate going along with the obvious...Here are the qualifying times in all their glory (remember that they always go quicker in Q1 and Q2 because of the fuel thing):1. Felipe Massa 1:27.3292. Lewis Hamilton 1:27.3733. Kimi Raikkonen 1:27.5464. Fernando Alonso 1:27.5745. Robert Kubica 1:27.7726. Nick Heidfeld 1:28.0377. Heikki Kovalainen 1:28.4918. Nico Rosberg 1:28.5019. Jarno Trulli 1:28.74010. Giancarlo Fisichella 1:29.32211. Anthony Davidson 1:28.00212. Mark Webber 1:28.01313. David Coulthard 1:28.10014. Rubens Barrichello 1:28.18815. Jenson Button 1:28.22016. Alexander Wurz 1:28.39017. Vitantonio Liuzzi 1:28.79818. Ralf Schumacher 1:28.80919. Takuma Sato 1:28.95320. Sebastian Vettel 1:29.40821. Adrian Sutil 1:29.86122. Sakon Yamamoto 1:31.479
The first thing that I thought when I saw Alonso on hard tyres was that he was fuelled longer. Kimi probably thought that he had the speed to manage it too.
Good point, Punter. It seems that whoever can stay out longest in the first stint has the best chance of being in front at the end these days. Although that's a comment on the impossibility of passing, it also shows how closely matched the top four drivers are.
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