Mark Webber claimed his third straight pole position of the Formula One season at the Turkish Grand Prix on Saturday as the Red Bull team maintained its perfect qualifying record. The Australian Webber edged British McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton while Sebastian Vettel had to settle for third after technical problems in the other Red Bull and championship contender Fernando Alonso had to settle for 12th in a Ferrari after a latest mishap.
Webber now appears poised to complete a perfect May treble on Sunday after winning the other two races this month in Spain and Monaco from the pole. The championship leader Webber struggled in practice on Friday, but on Saturday everything was once again perfect for the veteran.
"I knew I could dig deep. In the end it went ok. (But) It was a tight fight with all of us," said Webber. Webber clocked 1 minute 26.295 minutes for the 5.338-kilometre lap at the Istanbul Park Circuit with Hamilton close behind on 1:26.433.
Vettel posted 1:26.760 and reigning world champion Jenson Button 1:26.781 in the second McLaren for fourth place.
Vettel admitted that his latest bad luck was "a bit frustrating" as he described a brakes problem towards what was supposed to be his fast lap in the final qualifying round.
"The inside front just kept locked ... I should have easily been quicker," said Vettel. But Webber made sure that Red Bull still monopolized the pole position this season with the Australian now holding a 4-3 edge over Vettel for first place on the grid.
However, the 2008 world champion Hamilton was over the moon to have split the Red Bulls and warned that there could be more to come on Sunday.
"We were really able to put together a very good lap. It feels great," he said. "These guys (Red Bull) have been untouchable this season. This is a great boost and our race pace is even better."Webber leads the championship standings ahead of Vettel (both tied on 78 points), Alonso (75) and reigning champion Jenson Button of McLaren (70) into Sunday's race over 75 laps. Hamilton is seventh with 59 points.
Alonso, who won the season-opener in Bahrain, faces another uphill battle after going out in the second qualifying round after an error on a late fast lap. Two weeks ago the Spaniard crashed his Ferrari in the final Monte Carlo practice and had to start the race out of the pit lane, but still fought to a sixth-place finish.