Turkish GP - Sunday - Race Report
Webber: What a f**king disaster...
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button scored a 1-2 for McLaren Mercedes in a dramatic Turkish Grand Prix which saw the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel hit each other while running 1-2. Webber recovered to finish third but Vettel failed to score and now drops to fifth in the world championship chase which is led by his team mate. McLaren's win puts the team one point ahead of Red Bull in the constructors championship after seven races.
Istanbul was dominated by Red Bull and McLaren. Since Barcelona McLaren has a revised rear wing and found that their car was much closer to the Red Bull than it had been in Spain. The Red Bulls had substantially more downforce in the fast sections of the Istanbul Park circuit but the McLarens had a significant top speed advantage.
It all added up to a game of cat-and-mouse as the Red Bulls attempted to get through Turkey's challenging Turn 8 with a big enough margin to prevent the McLarens getting a run on them and trying to pass under braking for Turn 12.
The start was the first critical moment and that went the way of Red Bull. Webber converted his pole position and got through Turn 1 with his nose in front, while Vettel, from the cleaner grid slot three, got inside front row starter Hamilton. But Lewis stayed with him and dragged back ahead using his speed advantage. Behind Vettel, Jenson Button found Schumacher's Mercedes coming around the outside of him in Turn 1 and was powerless to resist, but got Schumacher back again further round the lap with more speed into Turn 12.
From that point on, the Red Bulls and McLarens ran nose-to-tail as far as the first round of pit stops, with Button sitting just a few car lengths back in order to try to look after the tyres.
Vettel was the first to pit, on lap 14 of the 58, with Webber and Hamilton coming in together next time around. The Australian emerged with his lead intact but Hamilton, who had a slow stop, found himself behind Vettel - "double trouble" as he called it.
They ran like that as far as lap 40. Vettel, who seemed a bit more comfortable than his team mate on Bridgestone's prime tyre, then got a run on Webber through Turns 9 and 10 and towed up alongside.
The question to Webber was: if he'd managed to keep an F-ducted McLaren with a speed advantage behind him for 40 laps, how did Vettel, with the same engine, manage to get a run on him?
In the post-race press conference, Webber was cryptic. "You guys are going to have to do a bit of digging..." he said.
It seems that at the pace the race was being run and a fight to the flag with the McLarens in prospect, there was concern about fuel consumption. Webber likely knew from his dash readings that he needed to turn down his engine, whereas Vettel, who had not run in clean air at any stage, probably had a bit extra and knew that he was in a position to make a move.
When he drew level with his team mate, on the left, Webber kept arrow straight, meaning that Vettel had to stay on the dirty part of the track. Impatient to get off it and clean up his tyres before they reached the braking area, he attempted to move Webber over. When the Aussie refused to cede, contact was made, Vettel suffered a punctured right rear and was out.
Furious, he jumped out of his car and started to make the universally accepted gesture of mental retardation. Webber, obviously, saw the incident somewhat differently... "That," he said, "was a fucking disaster..."
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was deeply frustrated.
"I'm annoyed that they both got themselves into that situation," he explained. "One car was quicker than the other at that stage of the race, he got a run, he was squeezed to the left and wasn't given a lot of room but then moved early. So, yes, they're both at fault. Should they have given each other more room? Yes."
Webber pitted for a new nose after the contact and such was the pace at the front that he emerged still comfortably third from Schumacher's Mercedes.
The incident handed the race to McLaren but that was far from the end of the excitement. Button started to close on Hamilton and with 10 laps to go, passed him into Turn 12. They ran through 13 and 14 side-by-side before Jenson crossed the line first. Lewis though, had got a better exit from the last corner and carved inside Jenson again into Turn 1.
Having just witnessed what had happened at Red Bull, there were deeply concerned faces on the McLaren pit wall and it was not long before both drivers were receiving frantic radio instruction to "conserve fuel and look after your tyres." Which, who knows, was probably a coded message to stay where you are and leave each other on the road! They duly managed it to claim a third team victory of the year.
Webber looked less than thrilled with third place but, in fact, 15 points on a day when his team mate failed to score was not a bad result. He now leads the championship from Button by five points, with Hamilton a further four in arrears.
Schumacher finished more than half a minute behind the winning McLaren, with team mate Rosberg just over a second behind and the ever consistent Kubica a solid sixth for Renault.
The Ferraris had a dreadful weekend at a race which saw them celebrate their 800th Grand Prix. Felipe Massa got home seventh with Fernando Alonso eighth, after spending a considerable portion of the race trying to pass Vitaly Petrov, who impressed all weekend long in the second Renault. Alonso eventually managed it but not without contact, which saw the Russian suffer a puncture. A pit stop robbed him of deserved points. Adrian Sutil's Force India and Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber took full advantage to score the final points.
"It was a case of damage limitation," said Alonso, who failed to make it through to Q3. "Our aim in this championship is to fight with McLaren and Red Bull for the podium, definitely not with a Renault for eighth place..."
Turkey proved that on a decent circuit, 2010 spec Formula 1 is certainly capable of providing compelling entertainment, whatever the weather. It was a superb race which sees the world championship beautifully balanced with McLaren having made a quantum step.
Heading for North America in a fortnight, the drivers' championship looks like this: Webber, 93; Button, 88; Hamilton, 84; Alonso, 79; Vettel, 78.