Vettel reigns supreme in Istanbul

Sebastian Vettel scored his thirteenth career Grand Prix victory with a supreme performance at the Istanbul Park circuit, leading home a Red Bull Racing one-two.

Mark Webber gained the advantage over Fernando Alonso to take the runner-up position following a tough battle, although Alonso achieved Ferrari’s best result with a podium following a difficult start this season.

The Mercedes-powered cars featuring Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button were left to fight for the remaining top six positions, producing some spectacular racing as Hamilton came through to fourth ahead of Rosberg and Button.

Vettel got a clean break immediately as the five red lights went out, as Webber was jumped by Rosberg’s Mercedes off the line. Hamilton tried to get around the outside of the Red Bull too at Turn 3, but ran wide and fell to sixth behind Alonso and Button.

It only took Webber five laps to cruise past Rosberg on the back straight using his Drag Reduction System, but by that time Vettel was 4.4 seconds clear and had enough speed to edge slightly further away even after that.

Alonso was past Rosberg as well two laps later, as the Mercedes found itself falling victim to a string of DRS passes in the opening stint. Webber could not shake the Ferrari off, and just after half-distance, Alonso used the moveable rear wing to go around the outside of Webber into the final complex to claim second position.

He then pulled away for a while, but after their fourth and final pit-stops, Webber was able to take a new set of the harder Prime tyres into the closing laps whereas Alonso’s rubber was more used. With seven laps to go, Webber repeated Alonso’s earlier DRS move to reclaim second, and though the Spaniard tried his utmost to re-pass on the outside both at Turn 1 and Turn 3, Red Bull Racing’s first one-two of the year was secure – though so was Scuderia Ferrari’s first podium.

Vettel was able to run much further on his Pirellis than his nearest rivals and looked like he might manage the full race distance on a three-stop strategy rather than more popular four. But in the end the world championship leader played it safe and adopted his peers’ strategy, maintaining an eight seconds cushion over Webber until they backed off on the final lap.

The most spectacular racing involved the McLarens, Mercedes, Felipe Massa and the Renaults. Button was the highest placed three-stopper, a strategy that allowed him to briefly lead and run fourth going into the final laps.

But Hamilton – recovering well after a delay at his second pit-stop with a cross thread front-right – and Rosberg were able to hunt down and pass Button using their fresher Pirellis late on, taking them to fourth and fifth as the 2009 world champion had to settle for sixth.

Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi drove a superb race to come through from P16 on the grid to seventh on the same strategy as Button, but he too found it impossible to fend off the four-stoppers at the end, and fell down to ninth position behind the Renaults of Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov.

Kamui Kobayashi made a three-stop strategy work well to surge from P23 on the grid to tenth, while Massa was unable to score a point for Ferrari. The Brazilian lost crucial ground when he ran very wide at Turn 8 after his third pit-stop and fell deep into a group of yet-to-stop midfielders, and then was further delayed with a right-rear wheel issue at his last pit-stop.

The Ferrari got back up to P11 with an out-braking move on Michael Schumacher, who had earlier damaged his front wing when he turned in on Petrov as the Renault passed him into the final complex.

Paul di Resta was the only driver to drop out during the 58-lap race with an unspecified car problem, while Timo Glock didn’t make the start with a gearbox problem.

So a fantastic result for Sebastian Vettel. That crash in the opening practice session seemed not to unsettle the world champion as he achieved a superb pole position and race victory for Red Bull Racing. A complete contrast to last year’s nightmare scenario at the same venue.

The resurgent Alonso showed the team can still be caught. But they’ll need to do it soon before Vettel runs away with the championship.

Turkish Grand Prix, 58 laps:

1.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           1h30:17.558
2.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +8.807
3.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +10.075
4.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           +40.232
5.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +47.539
6.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +59.431
7.  Heidfeld      Renault                    +1:00.857
8.  Petrov        Renault                    +1:08.168
9.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1:09.300
10.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +1:18.000
11.  Massa         Ferrari                    +1:19.800
12.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +1:25.400
13.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes       +1 lap
14.  Perez         Sauber-Ferrari             +1 lap
15.  Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth          +1 lap
16.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap
17.  Maldonado     Williams-Cosworth          +1 lap
18.  Trulli        Lotus-Renault              +1 lap
19.  Kovalainen    Lotus-Renault              +2 laps
20.  D’Ambrosio    Virgin-Cosworth            +2 laps
21.  Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth               +3 laps
22.  Liuzzi        HRT-Cosworth               +5 laps

Fastest lap: Webber, 1:29.703

Not classified/retirements:

Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes         45 laps
Glock         Virgin-Cosworth              1 lap

World Championship standings, round 4:

1.  Vettel        93
2.  Hamilton      59
3.  Webber        55
4.  Button        46
5.  Alonso        41
6.  Massa         24
7.  Petrov        21
8.  Heidfeld      21
9.  Rosberg       20
10.  Kobayashi      8
11.  Buemi          6
12.  Schumacher     6
13.  Sutil          2
14.  Di Resta       2

1.  Red Bull-Renault          148
2.  McLaren-Mercedes          105
3.  Ferrari                    65
4.  Renault                    42
5.  Mercedes                   26
6.  Sauber-Ferrari              8
7.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari          6
8.  Force India-Mercedes        4

Next race: Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona. May 20-22.

11 thoughts to “Vettel reigns supreme in Istanbul”

  1. World championship leader Sebastian Vettel has commented that he will not get carried away following his recent race victory at the Turkish Grand Prix. has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel insists he is not getting carried away despite a nearly perfect start to the 2011 season.

    The Red Bull driver took his third win in four races on Sunday to increase his lead in the standings to 34 points over McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.

    With four pole positions in as many races, Vettel is looking unstoppable at the moment, but the reigning champion says it’s important to go step by step.

    “It’s good to get as many points as you can at every single race,” said Vettel. “We see how quickly it can change.

    “We saw it last year with this guy [Alonso] coming and going, so we have to really go step by step, see every race as its own and try and maximise our points.

    “A good start to the season always helps, but there is a long way to go. Four out of 19, so you can work out how many more points there are to get so we have to keep focused.”

    The German thanked his team for its hard work after he destroyed his car in Friday practice.

    “All in all I am very happy. On Friday I had an accident and crashed the car badly. All the guys, even Mark’s guys helped and fixed the car. It meant some extra hours which I am sorry for, but yesterday and today made up for it. I am pleased with the results and a big thanks to the team.”

    Vettel admitted he was open about his strategy, in the end stopping four times.

    And he reckons Red Bull learned from its defeat in China to bounce back strongly this weekend.

    “It wasn’t easy from the start to know what is going to happen,” he said. “You have an idea about the tyres and how long they will last, but you have to wait for the first and second stints to see the trend.

    “I could have stayed out on primes but if the safety car comes out you are on used tyres, so I had a another short stint. I was very much in control, I am very happy with how we communicated with the race and how we reacted.

    “I am very pleased and since China we have definitely made a step forward. We have learned our lesson and have to make sure we keep momentum into the next race.”

  2. Following a difficult start this season, Ferrari achieved their first podium finish with Fernando Alonso taking third. has the story.

    Fernando Alonso said Ferrari could start ‘enjoy racing’ again after taking his team back to the podium in the Turkish Grand Prix.

    The Italian squad has had a disappointing start to its 2011 season, and had not finished in the top three at all prior to Istanbul.

    But in today’s race Alonso was able to overtake Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes for third early on then keep pace with Mark Webber’s Red Bull. He then passed Webber for second, which he held until Webber retook the position in the closing stages.

    “I think we did a good weekend overall,” said Alonso. “The car performed a bit better than what we did in the first three races of the championship, so finally we enjoyed racing again and we enjoyed a race fighting for the podium positions, changing position through the race. Finally we can enjoy racing again.”

    Alonso said that after the early delay behind Rosberg he decided that second was the maximum Ferrari could achieve today.

    “We lost a little bit of time behind Rosberg at the beginning, and we did not feel the possibility to fight for P1 anymore, so we concentrated on P2,” he said.

    “I had a little bit of advantage in terms of tyre degradation compared to Mark, we used the DRS and I was able to overtake him, and in the last part of the race it was more or less the opposite.

    “It was okay, fighting with Red Bull these days is difficult. It was close but we’ll try again.”

  3. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button admitted that fourth and sixth places in the Turkish Grand Prix were very disappointing results, with Hamilton frustrated with himself for a first-lap error and Button regretting his strategy.

    Hamilton was attacking Mark Webber for third when he ran wide at Turn 3 on the opening lap and fell to sixth.

    He felt the time lost fighting back from that mistake – and the damage he caused to his tyres in the process – were the most costly delays in a race that also featured a slow second pitstop.

    “It was a disappointing day on my behalf, I would say,” Hamilton admitted. “Not one of my best races. I got a pretty decent start but then lost a lot of ground at Turn 3.

    “I got stuck behind Jenson and damaged my tyres trying to get past so I pitted. I had to pit way too early at my first pitstop I think, and then at one of the stops we lost a lot of time.

    “But in general I was already behind from Turn 3.”

    Hamilton felt the pace he showed later in the race proved he could have finished higher but for his early delay.

    “I felt that I recovered reasonably well considering how much time I lost throughout the race,” he said.

    “I feel quite happy with the way the car was behaving. I just apologised to the guys – they worked as hard as they could. We were definitely able to do better today.”

    Button had been on course for fourth on a three-stop strategy until he was passed by Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – both on fresher tyres from a four-stop plan – in the closing laps.

    “I think most people were probably on my strategy initially, but because most of them damaged their tyres in their first stint, they changed their strategy. We didn’t,” said Button.

    He did not feel that stopping three times was a mistake in itself, but that McLaren should have run longer early on and made the final stint shorter.

    “We didn’t leave the tyres long enough,” Button suggested. “The tyres were still good at the end of every stint, but we came in.

    “We should’ve stayed out for longer because it made the last stint just impossible, just too many laps.”

    Button admitted there was nothing he could do to fend off Hamilton and Rosberg at the end.

    “You’re not racing anymore,” he said. “You’re a sitting duck. It’s unbelievable, the difference in speed.”


  4. Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber has said that second position was the maximum he could achieved following race victory for his team-mate. has the details.

    Mark Webber says second place in the Turkish Grand Prix was the maximum he could have hoped for, conceding team-mate Sebastian Vettel is on top of his game right now.

    The Australian finished over eight seconds behind Vettel, who went on to score his third victory in four races, from which he had always started from pole.

    Webber admitted he could have had a better shot had Nico Rosberg not passed him at the start, but he conceded second was the best possible result.

    “I got the maximum I could actually,” said Webber. “It would have been difficult to beat Seb. It would have been easier if I was ahead of Rosberg. Nico is doing his race, fair enough, but he could have made a cleaner move initially. In the end the result is as it deserves to be, I think.”

    The Red Bull driver said it was Vettel’s rivals responsibility to push him into making errors.

    “He is on top of his game. He’s had a great start to the season and he is near to his maximum. It’s not ideal for the rest of us, but it is up to us to to bring that to the end sooner rather than later.

    “Everyone has weaknesses, and it is up to you to interrogate those as much as you can. Seb has done a good start, and the team has done a great job so that is it.”

  5. Martin Whitmarsh put McLaren’s distant fourth and sixth positions in the Turkish Grand Prix down to the fact that the team was unable to bring as many updates as it would have liked to Istanbul Park.

    And while Lewis Hamilton’s fourth place means that he remains second in the drivers’ standings behind world champion Sebastian Vettel, Whitmarsh accepted that McLaren were unable to compete with Red Bull this weekend.

    “Frankly we didn’t bring all the developments we wanted here so we weren’t quite as quick as we wanted to be, and when you’re not you lose places,” he told the BBC. “We didn’t quite achieve what we wanted in qualifying, then if you then lose places at the start of the race it’s very difficult to recover from that.”

    McLaren split its drivers on to separate strategies, with Hamilton on a conventional four-stop plan and Jenson Button opting to do three. Whitmarsh admitted that Button’s strategy didn’t work but added that he felt it would have made little difference to the outcome of the race.

    “I think in fairness the strategy was right, it was a reasonable strategy with Jenson Button but I don’t think it helped him, then I don’t think it particularly harmed him,” he said. “I think the absence of fresh option tyres, I don’t think was significant to the outcome of the race.

    “This weekend has been a bit tricky really, I think to leave with Lewis [Hamilton] still second in the championship is a reasonable situation, but we had a number of things go wrong this weekend,” said Whitmarsh. “In the race itself, obviously losing some places at the beginning made it very difficult to recover from that; if you get into having to be aggressive with the tyres to get through the field you are just damaging your tyres.

    “I think Lewis had some sensible race pace but by that time really couldn’t do anything with it, Jenson with the three-stop – even for someone like him – was probably a stop too short.

    “He was the quickest of the three-stoppers but that probably wasn’t the right strategy. We had a couple of issues in the pitstops as well, I have to say the chief mechanic did very well to avoid an accident; we had some exciting moments with our drivers on the race track and we had some exciting moments in the pitlane. I hope it was nonetheless a good show, but we were a bit disappointed. Let’s see if we can do a better job in Spain.”


  6. Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Buemi has commented that a vibration problem from his tyres caused him to lose two track positions in the final stages of the Turkish Grand Prix. has the story.

    Sebastien Buemi blamed a strange vibration coming from his tyres for losing two places near the end of the Turkish Grand Prix.

    The Toro Rosso driver looked set for a seventh pace finish but was overtaken by the Renaults of Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov after he could not even hold the steering wheel because of the vibration.

    Buemi said the problem needed to be analysed as he did not think it was down to tyre wear.

    The Swiss driver was still pleased with his points finish after having started from 16th position.

    “In general I am very happy with my race and I don’t think I could have done better,” said Buemi. “However, it’s true that in the final two laps I lost two places and if not for this we could have brought home a seventh place finish.

    “But I could not even hold the steering wheel anymore because there was so much vibration coming through from the tyres: it was not due to tyre wear, so we will have to analyse carefully what happened as I had not felt this before. All the same, it was a great race and I pulled off plenty of overtaking moves and I fought hard.

    “Scoring points after starting sixteenth is reason to be pleased. We decided to do only three pit stops, although it was clear that here it did not cost that much time to make a pit stop so that was an interesting situation.

    “We are continuing to develop the car and have more parts coming which I hope can keep us fighting for points in the next few races.”

    Team-mate Jaime Alguersuari finished down in 16th after struggling with his tyres during the race.

    “As usual, I did my best, pushing hard from the beginning,” he said. “But I suffered a lot from degradation on the rear tyres, especially in the final stint. This meant I had a massive amount of oversteer, which is why I really had to come in for an additional fourth stop for fresh tyres towards the end.

    “I don’t understand why my team-mate suffered much less than me in this respect, so we need to look at all the data to find out why. The next race is in Barcelona, which is obviously very important for me as it’s my home race. I have many good memories from there, including scoring points there last year.”

  7. Nick Heidfeld was unimpressed with Renault team-mate Vitaly Petrov after the duo made contact during the Turkish Grand Prix.

    Heidfeld’s and Petrov’s cars touched after going side-by-side in the series of corners before the start/finish straight as the duo battled for position.

    The German felt Petrov had pushed him wide, and he made hand gestures to his team-mate after the move.

    “Yeah, that’s not nice. It shouldn’t happen,” Heidfeld told the BBC after the race. “He just pushed me wide and we made contact. It’s not a safe thing to do.”

    Heidfeld went on to finish in seventh position, right in front of the Russian driver.

    The German said he was happy with his speed during the race, but not with the result itself.

    “Not totally happy with the race. I’m happy with the pace, which was good, but I was in traffic most of the time and if I had a bit more free space I could easily have got a better result, but at least we have the race pace.

    “I just have to find out why in qualifying it didn’t work out yesterday.”


  8. Mercedes GP team boss Ross Brawn has admitted that the race set-up is the most important priority during a Grand Prix weekend. has the story.

    Mercedes needs to reprioritise its race preparations during a grand prix weekend, that is the view of team principal Ross Brawn after Nico Rosberg dropped from third position on the grid to finish fifth in the Turkish Grand Prix.

    The German suffered from tyre blistering while his W02 had a heavy fuel load – which saw him unable to defend his position early in the race – and Brawn believes that the cause of this could possibly be traced to earlier in the weekend.

    “We knew we had a little bit of vulnerability on high fuel so I think we are going to have to think again about how we approach priorities over the weekend, because when we got into the race we started blistering the rear tyres which we hadn’t seen in practice,” Brawn told the BBC. “So that’s why we fell away so quickly.

    “Then as the fuel load came down that problem went away and the pace picked up and we started to get respectable again.

    “We had run [the fuel level] in practice but obviously we were short of time because of the rain, and while we ran Friday afternoon with high fuel, we didn’t see that problem. I think what’s clear in this racing is that qualifying is probably the least critical thing now and having a good race set-up with the correct number of [sets of] tyres is the most important thing.”

    Rosberg admitted that he was surprised and disappointed to find himself swallowed by the pack in the early stages of the race, adding that he lost touch with the pattern of the grand prix once he had made the switch to the prime tyre after his first pitstop.

    “I have to speak to the team to see if it is possible to make things a bit clearer in my head because it is so difficult to understand,” he said afterwards. “I was so disappointed because at one point I saw myself going backwards, and then the Renaults started arriving and I started getting pressure from them, so I was like ‘Okay this is terrible and so slow’. But in the end it was okay it was just the strategy.

    “I didn’t really know what was going on anymore or where I was on the strategy,” he added. “I was really disappointed at the beginning but then in the end I was still in the fight with the McLarens, I passed Jenson [Button] for fifth and so the day was not too bad.

    “In general we have to say it was a positive weekend for us because we are moving up, getting stronger and we know where we can improve still. We haven’t put any massive updates on the car yet so things will start improving now with new parts and new ideas.

    “Now we understand very clearly that we need to work on the race, because qualifying is looking better and better but we are still struggling a bit in the race – so that’s important to learn from that.”

  9. As for Michael Schumacher, the Mercedes GP driver has said he is not experiencing “big joy” in this season’s Formula One World Championship. The Turkish Grand Prix proved to be a difficult race for the seven-time world champion as he finished in a frustrating P12. has the details.

    Michael Schumacher admitted after the Turkish Grand Prix that he is not experiencing “big joy” at the moment, after the seven-time world champion finished a disappointing 12th.

    The Mercedes driver was caught up in at least two wheel-banging incidents at the final three corners of the circuit, the first of which was with Vitaly Petrov’s Renault early in the race and caused Schumacher to pit for a new nose and front wing.

    The German then dropped as low as 17th before climbing back up the order.

    Schumacher qualified inside the top ten and expressed confidence before the race that the W02 is improving, but he was never a factor in the race while Nico Rosberg finished fifth in the sister car.

    “From where we came, going forward is always better than still having to defend going backwards and mostly I was able to go forward, but the big joy is not there right now, except some action, that’s about it,” Schumacher told the BBC afterwards.

    “I said before the race that there was going to be some action and indeed I had lots of action,” he added, accepting the blame for his collision with Petrov. “I guess I was responsible myself to have the result that I had because with Petrov I guess it was mostly my mistake, what happened there. I need to analyse it, because it was a bit strange that suddenly we got together and I lost my front wing.

    “Anyway the race was a given from there, lots of fighting, lots of action, but for nothing. The golden helmet, that’s what we call it in Germany, that’s what I got and nothing else, so it’s a bit of a shame.”

    Team principal Ross Brawn commented: “We’ll look at the race and see. It was unfortunate because he seemed to have less problems with the tyres in the race, but he was often caught up with a lot of traffic.”

  10. Kamui Kobayashi believes he could have finished as high as seventh in the Turkish Grand Prix had he not been forced to make an early second pitstop after picking up a puncture in a brush with Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso.

    Sauber driver Kobayashi had started only 23rd following his fuel system problem right at the start of qualifying. But he managed to make a three-stop strategy work and rose as high as fifth in his first stint.

    He felt that the early second stop then required after the collision cost him crucial ground and left him only able to salvage a single point for 10th.

    “It was a lot of fun today, I really enjoyed this race,” he said. “I found overtaking here a lot easier than last year in Hungary. Before the race I had promised Peter [Sauber] to score points today. It is just one point now because we lost so much time due to a puncture, which was the result of touching Sebastien Buemi when I overtook him. Otherwise I think I could have finished seventh and scored more points.

    “The car was great and also the team had a very good strategy for me, so I want to thank them for this. In the end I had to be a bit careful and save the tyres, because the last stint was quite long with 20 laps, but it worked out well.”

    Sauber’s other driver Sergio Perez recovered to 14th after breaking his front wing when he hit Pastor Maldonado’s Williams on the opening lap.

    “We had a good pace today and I clearly had a chance to score my first points,” said the Mexican. “It is a real shame what happened on the first lap. Pastor Maldonado was braking quite hard in front of me and I couldn’t avoid hitting him. I broke my front wing and had to pit. Apart from that I found it quite difficult to manage the tyres – both compounds actually – but the car was really good.”


  11. Ferrari driver Felipe Massa was left feeling disappointed following problems in the pits which affected his race performance at the Istanbul Park circuit. has the story.

    Felipe Massa was left lamenting the problems during his pitstops in the Turkish Grand Prix after a disappointing day for the Brazilian.

    The Ferrari driver stopped four times but had issues in three of the pitstops, something that relegated him down the order.

    Massa finished in 11th position, outside of the points.

    The Brazilian was disappointed with his race, but encouraged by the pace of his car during the Istanbul weekend.

    “The start was good and I passed some cars on the track,” Massa told the BBC. “And then I stopped at the right time and in a good position as well – then the pitstop was slow and we had a problem and then I went behind Lewis [Hamilton] and I was just in front of him at the stop.

    “Then in the third pitstop as well we had a problem so I lost positions, and I went out to the dirty side on Turn 8 and it was completely dirty so I carried on straight otherwise it would have been possible to spin off.

    “Then I lost more positions, then in the last pitstop we had another problem so… everything happened in the race.

    “Anyway the positive thing is that the car was, I would say, competitive on the pace and I think this can be a positive thing for Barcelona.”

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