Lewis Hamilton sealed an extraordinary triumph in Turkey yesterday after a race that saw him rub wheels with his team-mate Jenson Button only minutes after a collision between the Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel had cost them a 1-2 result. It was Hamilton's first win of the season and it lifted him to third in the World Championship standings.
He was understandably delighted, especially given that he had survived a late attempt by Button to overtake. "That was some race," he said afterwards, a broad smile plastered across his face. "I felt quite comfortable out in front, looking after the tyres, but there was a bit of a miscommunication with the team; they said to save fuel and set a lap time target and I tried to stick to that, but definitely it was a bit too slow and Jenson was right on my tail.
"There was nothing I could do, because he had the slipstream into Turn 12. He was able to stay to the outside, but fortunately I was able to stay in the slipstream down into Turn One, and we both went steaming in as late as we could. My car was understeering a bit, but I was able to stay in front."
Button, who did not look at all put out by the minor clash with his team-mate, said: "I got the run down into Turn 12 on the outside, and, you know, I had to have a go really. We were wheel-to-wheel for about five corners, and it was good fun. When Lewis got by me going into Turn One, I went back into fuel save mode, because our race pace had been a bit quicker than we thought it would be, so we had to save a bit of fuel to get to the end."
This was a near disastrous day for Red Bull, but it had started well. They held the first two places after the first corner: Webber got the best getaway as Vettel raced through from third on the grid to beat Hamilton into the first corner. Further back, Michael Schumacher got the better of Button for fourth place. By the end of the lap, though, both McLaren drivers had used their very strong top speed to correct their situations, and until Vettel came in on the 14th lap, the quartet sped around, nose to tail.
Hamilton's chances appeared to be in jeopardy when there was a momentary problem with the right rear wheel on his car, and that dropped him behind Vettel too. "I knew from then on that it was going to be double trouble," Hamilton said.
The stalemate continued until lap 40, as predictions of a brief rain shower proved incorrect. But when the trouble came it had nothing to do with the weather.
Going down to Turn 12, Vettel caught Webber quite suddenly and dived alongside to the left. He was almost clear, but then seemed to move over until his right rear wheel made contact with Webber's front left, throwing Vettel into a series of lurid spins and forcing Webber to run wide at the corner. Hamilton and Button had a few anxious moments as they threaded gleefully through the debris, but by the end of the lap McLaren were running 1-2 and down at Red Bull, design guru Adrian Newey had his head in his hands.
Webber got back into third place, and, as Schumacher was so far behind in fourth, the Australian was able to make a pit stop for fresh tyres and a new nose and front wing and still come out ahead. Vettel, meanwhile, stalked back to the pits made "loco" signs with a twirling finger, and later shouldered by reporters anxious for his side of the story.
The track then became a little slippery as rain spots finally fell and Button closed right in on Hamilton, until the two McLarens were less than a second apart.
Over their radios they had been told to save fuel, as indications were that their situation could become critical after the fierce opening pace. But the messages did not make it clear how slowly – or how fast – they should go.
In exactly the same place as the Webber-Vettel incident, Button drew alongside Hamilton and forced him to yield the lead on the 48th lap. But this time there was no contact and, as Hamilton resolutely kept side-by-side with his team-mate through Turns 13 and 14 too, they crossed the finish line officially separated by 0.0 seconds and Button was credited with the lead. Hamilton was not finished yet, though, and with the inside line into Turn One he lunged back in front as the McLarens rubbed wheels. This was mano-a-mano motor racing in the grand manner and it made the Turkish Grand Prix, so often a dull race, the best so far this year.
Behind the disgruntled Webber, who believed he lost a third 2010 victory because of his team-mate's impetuosity, Schumacher had his best race of the year to finish fourth for Mercedes, ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Ferrari's 800th race was a miserable affair that made you wonder where their early season speed has gone. Felipe Massa and Robert Kubica were lucky to avoid a major accident on the opening lap as they interlocked wheels, and thereafter the Brazilian spent most of his race studying the rear end of the Pole's Renault as he chased it fruitlessly for seventh place. His team-mate Fernando Alonso was doing likewise with Kubica's partner Vitaly Petrov as they battled for ninth, until a clash sent the Russian to the pits with a flat tyre.
Hamilton's win moves him to third place on 84 points, four behind Button and nine behind Webber. Vettel slumps to fifth with 78, one behind Alonso.
Dedicating the success to his absent father Anthony, who turns 50 today, Hamilton pledged to push for another title. "I don't think I was ever gone from the fight," he said, "but I've been a bit unfortunate up to now.
"When I qualified second I knew there was just one step that we needed to take. They [Red Bull] made it tough for us, but now it's down to keeping this momentum, and me and Jenson will do all we can to push the team forwards and win both championships."
Turkish Grand Prix, Istanbul:
1 L Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1hr 28min 47.620sec;
2 J Button (GB) McLaren 1:28:50.265;
3 M Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:29:11.905;
4 M Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:29:18.730;
5 N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:29:19.886;
6 R Kubica (Pol) Renault 1:29:20.444;
7 F Massa (Br) Ferrari 1:29:24.255;
8 F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari 1:29:34.164;
9 A Sutil (Ger) Force India 1:29:36.649;
10 K Kobayashi (Japan) BMW Sauber 1:29:53.270;
11 P de la Rosa (Sp) BMW Sauber 1:29:53.564; 12 J Alguersuari (Sp) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:29:55.420; 13 V Liuzzi (It) Force India at 1 lap; 14 R Barrichello (Br) Williams at 1 lap; 15 V Petrov (Rus) Renault at 1 lap; 16 S Buemi (Swit) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 lap; 17 N Hulkenberg (Ger) Williams at 1 lap; 18 T Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing at 3 laps; 19 L di Grassi (Br) Virgin Racing at 3 laps. Not Classifed: 20 K Chandhok (India) HRT-F1 52 laps completed; 21 B Senna (Br) HRT-F1 46 laps completed; 22 S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 39 laps completed; 23 H Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 33 laps completed; 24 J Trulli (It) Lotus F1 32 laps completed.
World Championship Standings:
Drivers' Championship: 1 M Webber (Aus) Red Bull 93pts; 2 J Button (GB) McLaren 88; 3 L Hamilton (GB) McLaren 84; 4 F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari 79; 5 S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 78; 6 R Kubica (Pol) Renault 67; 7 F Massa (Br) Ferrari 67; 8 N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 66; 9 M Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 34; 10 A Sutil (Ger) Force India 22; 11 V Liuzzi (It) Force India 10; 12 R Barrichello (Br) Williams 7; 13 V Petrov (Rus) Renault 6; 14 J Alguersuari (Sp) Scuderia Toro Rosso 3; 15 S Buemi (Swit) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1; 16 K Kobayashi (Japan) BMW Sauber 1; 17 N Hulkenberg (Ger) Williams 1; 18 P de la Rosa (Spa) BMW Sauber 0; 19 H Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 0; 20 K Chandhok (India) HRT-F1 0; 21 L di Grassi (Br) Virgin Racing 0; 22 J Trulli (It) Lotus F1 0; 23 B Senna (Br) HRT-F1 0; 24 T Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing 0.
Manufacturers' Championship: 1 McLaren 172pts; 2 Red Bull 171; 3 Ferrari 146; 4 Mercedes GP 100; 5 Renault 73; 6 Force India 32; 7 Williams 8; 8 Scuderia Toro Rosso 4; 9 BMW Sauber 1; 10 Lotus F1 0; 11 HRT-F1 0; 12 Virgin Racing 0.Reuse content