- Turkish Grand Prix
Button takes fight to Red Bull in Istanbul
McLaren's Jenson Button clocked the fastest time of Friday practice for the Turkish Grand Prix, just edging the in-form Red Bull of Mark Webber off the top spot.
The battle is poised between McLaren and Red Bull with Sebastian Vettel third fastest and Lewis Hamilton fourth. However, based on past form, it is safe to assume that Red Bull was running more fuel in order to disguise its ultimate pace until Saturday afternoon's qualifying session. Its only concern will be reliability, after Webber's car stopped out on track with apparent engine failure and Vettel spent a significant amount of his time in the garage waiting for his team to fix a water pipe.
Within a tenth-of-a-second of the top four was Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, although the Italian team spent most of the session several seconds off the pace, running heavy fuel. Felipe Massa finished 10th overall after destroying his soft tyres when he spun off in the high-speed turn eight. A bump unsettled the car and he ran wide onto the astroturf, causing him to lose the rear end. He wasn't alone in making a mistake in the 170mph corner, but rather ominously the Red Bulls barely lifted the throttle through it as they exploited their extra downforce and comfortably set the fastest middle-sector times.
The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher were sixth and seventh, over 0.6 seconds off the pace. There was little to choose between the two drivers and, while they will struggle to challenge the cars ahead, an intriguing battle should emerge between them over the weekend.
Robert Kubica was the only other driver to get within a second of Button's time, while his Renault team-mate Vitaly Petrov was another 0.3 seconds back. Adrian Sutil is also a contender for the top ten qualifying positions and recovered well from his Friday morning shunt at turn eight to finish 11th overall.
One driver clearly outperforming his car was Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotus, who got within 3.5 seconds of the fastest time in both the morning and afternoon sessions. He was easily the class of the field among the new teams and outpaced team-mate Jarno Trulli by over a second. Bruno Senna was back in the seat of his HRT after test driver Sakon Yamamoto drove it in the morning session and immediately went 0.3 seconds faster than team-mate Karun Chandhok.