Lewis Hamilton scored his first victory of the season after a thrilling race at the Istanbul Park circuit. His McLaren team-mate Jenson Button finished in second scoring a perfect result for the team following a crash between the Red Bull drivers.
Mark Webber was driving faultlessly from the front, resisting huge pressure from the faster McLaren of Hamilton initially. But then a crash involving his own Red Bull Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel meant the team threw away victory in the Turkish Grand Prix.
The pair had been leading comfortably following the first round of pit stops, but on lap 40 Vettel tried a move past the leading car of Webber on the run down to Turn 12.
Vettel drafted alongside out of the Turn 11 kink and drew level down the inside approaching the final complex. The pair suddenly made high-speed contact, the German appeared to move across slightly on the Australian – with the Vettel’s right-rear tyre tagging with Webber’s left-front.
The accident forced Vettel out on the spot with heavy damage to his right-rear tyre, while Webber was able to continue before coming into the pits on lap 42 for a new nosecone on the RB6.
The clash of team-mates, which left team principal Christian Horner and technical director Adrian Newey holding their heads in the hands on the pit wall, handed the lead to McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, with the former taking his first victory since Singapore 2009.
There was another tense moment between team-mates as the McLarens began some close racing of their own. As light drizzle started, Button got a run on Hamilton towards Turn 12 with nine laps left to the flag. With Hamilton defending the inside, Button went right around the outside – giving him the racing line and the lead at Turn 13.
But Button’s lead lasted only the length of the pit straight, with Hamilton diving back to the inside into Turn 1 and through a narrowing gap to take the lead. With McLaren frantically urging its drivers to conserve fuel thereafter as it kept an eye on some consumption issues, that was the end of the battle.
Michael Schumacher held onto fourth place with his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, Renault’s Robert Kubica plus the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso chasing the seven-time champion home to the chequered flag.
A slightly early tyre stop and quick laps thereafter allowed Alonso to at least gain some ground following his disastrous qualifying. He then spent most of the race trying to get around Vitaly Petrov’s Renault, finally succeeding around the outside at Turn 3 in the closing laps – with a brush between giving Petrov a right-front puncture. He rejoined to grab fastest lap at the end.
A late pass by Adrian Sutil in the Force India on the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi resolved a race-long battle for what eventually became ninth, and left the Japanese to fend off his team-mate Pedro de la Rosa to take the final championship point.
Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi and the Williams of Nico Hulkenberg were both delayed by first lap damage, while a poor start dropped Rubens Barrichello down among the new teams in the second Williams.
As for the battle between the new teams, Lotus F1 Racing was comfortably clear over Virgin and Hispania until both Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen suffered hydraulic failures within moments of each other, allowing Timo Glock to take unofficial class honours.
So a great result for Lewis Hamilton and the McLaren team. For the 2008 world champion, this race victory was well deserved following Hamilton’s sheer determination to race and beat his Red Bull rivals.
In scoring a one-two finish, the Woking-based outfit jumps into the lead in the constructors’ standing by a single point over their rivals. Mark Webber retains his lead in the drivers’ championship with 93 points although Jenson Button is only five points behind with Turkish Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton only nine adrift.
Race results from Istanbul Park:
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
Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 53 laps
Senna HRT-Cosworth 47 laps
Vettel Red Bull-Renault 40 laps
Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 34 laps
Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 33 laps
World Championship standings, round 7:
1. Webber 93
2. Button 88
3. Hamilton 84
4. Alonso 79
5. Vettel 78
6. Massa 67
7. Kubica 67
8. Rosberg 66
9. Schumacher 34
10. Sutil 22
11. Liuzzi 10
12. Barrichello 7
13. Petrov 6
14. Alguersuari 3
15. Hulkenberg 1
16. Buemi 1
17. Kobayashi 1
1. McLaren-Mercedes 172
2. Red Bull-Renault 171
3. Ferrari 146
4. Mercedes 100
5. Renault 73
6. Force India-Mercedes 32
7. Williams-Cosworth 8
8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 4
9. Sauber-Ferrari 1
Next race: Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal. June 11-13.