Brit handed first win of the season after raging bulls see red
The question everyone was asking before the Turkish Grand Prix was whether the Red Bulls could be stopped and who could stop them. At turn 12 on Lap 40, there was a resounding answer: themselves. All the talk in the build up to the race was how much of an advantage they would have and who would come 3rd. The talk after the race is whether Red Bull can pick up the pieces after a disastrous race which had led to questions of the drivers and the team, centring on a key point. That is, of course, whether Sebastian Vettel is being favoured over Mark Webber. On the face of it, the reality is clear. Vettel is their darling; he has risen through the Red Bull ranks and is 22 years old to Webber’s 33. But the fact that Red Bull told Webber to turn his engine down on that lap has led to suggestions of favouritism. After the race, the journalists were unilateral in placing the blame with Sebastian Vettel. But Red Bull, and in particular Dr. Helmut Marko, absolved Vettel of any fault and implied that Webber was the driver who had the most to apologise for. Many fans would disagree with this conclusion. On websites which I have visited, between 70 and 80 percent of fans reckon that it was Vettel’s fault, with only around 5 to 10 percent saying it was completely Mark Webber’s fault.
How much will this affect the 2011 driver market if Mark Webber senses that Red Bull don’t want him to win the title? The ramifications for Red Bull are that instead of claiming 43 points, they took home 15. This, on a track where they were destined for a domination that never materialised. But, whatever way you look at it, McLaren have caught up. From being a second a lap slower in Catalunya, McLaren have made up the deficit and were only running behind Red Bull courtesy of the RB6’s advantage through the infamous Turn 8. McLaren will be laughing kitbags: Red Bull have taken 7 poles in a superb car but are behind them in the Constructors Championship. McLaren also have tracks coming up that should suit them much better than Red Bull, for example, Canada in two weeks’ time. Not to mention the long straights of Spa, Monza and Yas Marina: those are still to come. The MP4/25 has caught up in terms of race pace; they just need that extra tenth or two on Saturday afternoon.
For Hamilton and Button, the race ran as perfectly as it could: their main title rivals taking each other out whilst finishing 1-2 themselves. A battle on Lap 48 and 49 was perfect for TV viewers: an example of how team mates can push the limit, but still race fairly. Martin Whitmarsh breathed a sigh of relief as Button backed off under instruction from the team. Indeed it was probably ‘fuel critical’ – the message given to Button on Lap 51 – was a code for ‘hold position’. Either way, Hamilton’s subdued attitude on the podium indicated that – despite claiming his first victory since last September – all was not well within the team.
Despite this, McLaren’s satisfaction in claiming a 1-2 at the expense of one of their championship rivals must have been sweet, but to do it at Ferrari’s landmark 800th race must have been the icing on the metaphorical cake. The Scuderia themselves had a largely disastrous race. They have slipped behind Mercedes and Renault whilst Fernando Alonso is reported to be unimpressed by Ferrari’s development rate. Having had previous knowledge of working with top teams, he has apparently said that Ferrari’s development rate is much slower than that of McLaren’s. There is also substantial evidence to support his theory. Ferrari stopped developing the F60 after the Hungarian Grand Prix last year and shifted all efforts to the F10. McLaren on the other hand were adding updates to the MP4/24 up until the last race. Mercedes, in their Brawn guise, were also pushing hard to seal both championships. Ferrari had the second best car in Bahrain but claimed a 1-2. Now, two and a half months and six races later, they have slipped to having the 5th best car. This is also not aided by Fernando Alonso making uncharacteristic errors and Felipe Massa’s continued struggles in managing his tyres. This was meant to be the weekend where Massa bounced back – something which he didn’t do. He looked uncharacteristically melancholy during the weekend as he raced to 7th from 8th on the grid. Alonso finished 10 seconds behind in 8th, only three and a half seconds ahead of Sutil. The omens for a bad race were there when a Ferrari road car crashed into the entrance gates on Sunday morning. Rumours that Luca Badoer was seen in the area are unconfirmed...
Ross Brawn will be pleased with the progress made by his team as Schumacher claimed his equal best result with 4th. A cause of optimism is also there as well, for Schumacher finished 31 seconds behind the winner, rather than the 60 seconds behind Webber in Spain. With Canada coming next – a track which usually throws up an unusual result – Schumacher & Rosberg will be looking to pick up the pieces of any mistakes ahead. Michael is edging ever closer to returning to his best.
Sauber finally registered their first double finish of the season and did it by crossing the line in 10th, gaining a point courtesy of Kamui Kobayashi. Toro Rosso and Force India had average performances, whilst Formula B was livened up with a great scrap between Bruno Senna and Timo Glock, which ended when Senna ran wide at Turn One.
For Williams, the glory days are well and truly over as they suffered another disastrous race with 14th and 17th. Had the 2009 points been in operation, they would only have a solitary point to show for their efforts.
So could the Lap 40 of the Turkish Grand Prix be the iconic image of a classic season? Well, the momentum may have shifted to McLaren but it’s still close up front. Sit back and enjoy, because this one’s only going to get better.
Code: Select all
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1h28:47.620
2. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 2.645
3. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 24.285
4. Schumacher Mercedes + 31.110
5. Rosberg Mercedes + 32.266
6. Kubica Renault + 32.824
7. Massa Ferrari + 36.635
8. Alonso Ferrari + 46.544
9. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 49.029
10. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1:05.650
11. De la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari + 1:05.944
12. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:07.800
13. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
14. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
15. Petrov Renault + 1 lap
16. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
17. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
18. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
19. Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth + 3 laps
Fastest lap: Petrov, 1:29.165
Driver Team On lap/reason
Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 53 – Fuel pressure
Senna HRT-Cosworth 47 – Fuel pressure
Vettel Red Bull-Renault 40 - Accident
Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 34 - Hydraulics
Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 33 - Hydraulics