Grand Prix Turkey - Double trouble in Istanbul During the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park Lewis Hamilton emerged as the surprise winner after a very eventful and dramatic race, the second place of Jenson Button completed the second one-two...
Grand Prix Turkey - Double trouble in Istanbul
During the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park Lewis Hamilton emerged as the surprise winner after a very eventful and dramatic race, the second place of Jenson Button completed the second one-two finish of the season for the McLaren team. Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel deprived his team of a third one-two victory when he during a very controversial overtaking maneuver collided with his team mate and winner of the last two races Mark Webber. After the pair collided, Webber was able to continue the race after a quick visit to the Red Bull pit to change his damaged front wing. Webber finished third and is still leading the Drivers' Championship with 93 points, but Red Bull lost the lead in the Constructors' Championship to the McLaren team, who are now leading with 172 points in the pocket, one point ahead of Red Bull.
During the race in Turkey it also became clear the F-Duct has now become a vital necessity instead of a gadget, and contrary to what was expected at the start of the season, the refueling ban has made races more interesting instead of boring. Teams now only make one pit stop, just to change the tyres, but with more pit stops the top four would never have been so close together, for the same reason the second group behind the leaders was also very close together with just three or four seconds between the frontrunners of that group. This resulted in many fights on track, Webber and Vettel never lost sight of each other during the whole race, and a confrontation was almost inevitable. Hamilton and Button were very close together during the second part of the race, and again a confrontation was just a matter of time.
The race started without any major incidents, but at the back of the field Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg touched the rear of Sebastien Buemi's Toro Rosso, and both had to pit for repairs. By lap 10, just before the pit stops, the field was already divided into three groups. Both Red Bull and McLaren drivers were leading, behind them was a second group with Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica, Felipe Massa, Vitaly Petrov, Adrian Sutil, Kamui Kobayashi and Fernando Alonso. They were followed by Pedro de la Rosa, Jaime Alguersuari, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Rubens Barrichello. Behind them was the third group with Buemi, Hulkenberg, and the new teams Virgin, Lotus and HRT.
During the pit stops Vettel had managed to slip by Hamilton, on lap 20 Webber was still leading, followed by Vettel, Hamilton and Button. The second group with Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari, Force India and BMW-Sauber were already some 20 seconds behind the leaders. Very interesting was the pace of Renault drivers Kubica and Petrov, both were faster than the Ferraris and Massa was behind Kubica, while Alonso was behind Petrov. The third group with Hulkenberg and Buemi and the new teams and were some 30 seconds behind the second group. After the pit stops the race settled down, until both Lotus drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen retired from the race on lap 34.
Schumacher on fifth place was still leading Rosberg, Schumacher drove an excellent race and Rosberg was never in a position to overtake his Mercedes team mate. The difference in speed in the second group was just a few seconds, and this led to many overtaking attempts which definitely spiced up the race. The new teams, now without Lotus, were also dicing for positions, and from a spectators point of view the Turkish Grand Prix was certainly a very interesting race to watch. Of course they got more than they bargained for, on lap 39 the Red Bulls collided and handed the lead over to Hamilton and Button. With Webber now in third position, Schumacher and Rosberg were promoted to fourth and fifth position, but although Schumacher was now just seven seconds behind the remaining Red Bull, he had no chance to challenge Webber for third place.
On lap 49 Button challenged Hamilton for the lead, and overtook him by surprise, but two corners later Hamilton took his first position back again. Massa was still behind the Renault of Kubica, and Alonso was still trying everything in the book to overtake the second Renault piloted by Petrov. On lap 54 he got close enough and overtook Petrov with a sort of do- or-die action. Alonso hit Petrov, who had to limp back to the pits to replace a damaged right front tyre. Karun Chandhok was the last one who retired from the race, on lap 52 he came into the HRT pit with a fuel system problem. Hamilton crossed the finish line first, followed by Button, Webber, Schumacher, Rosberg, Kubica, Massa and Alonso.
For the complete result of the Turkish Grand Prix, and the current standings in the Drivers' and Constructors' Championship, follow the links at the bottom of this page.
Double trouble for Red Bull
Like Webber said during the post-race press conference, it was not an ideal day for Red Bull.
The collision between the Red Bulls caused a lot of commotion after the race. Apparently Webber was instructed to slow down to save fuel, this could explain the speed difference there was, and there were also suggestions Webber was instructed to let Vettel pass him, because the team was worried Hamilton would be able to pass Vettel if he stayed behind the slower Webber. Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko denied this, "That is not correct, because that would mean a team order. We informed Mark about the situation and it is for the driver to decide." But if Vettel knew Webber was told to slow down, why didn't he wait a few seconds for a better opportunity down the main straight, instead of taking this huge risk?
From the onboard images from both cars it was clear Webber didn't change his line while Vettel was beside him, Vettel was the one who changed his line before he entered the corner, it looks like the odds are against him. Vettel claims he was on the inside just before the corner and therefore was on the racing line, but common sense should have told him what happens if you just move to the right when someone is close beside you, and especially with speeds over 300 km/h it is a very risky, if not stupid, move. But neither of them gave way, Vettel just moved to the right and hit Webber, both flew off, and Vettel almost collided with Webber for the second time on the run-off area.
Both drivers refused to take the blame for the collision, a very frustrated team principal Christian Horner, who initially blamed Webber for the incident, but revised his opinion after the race, "It's disappointing for the team to have got into that position today. The one thing I always ask the drivers is that, yes, they can race each other, but give each other room, and that's exactly what didn't happen. They didn't give each other room; it's as simple as that." The mystery of the collision hasn't been solved yet, but Webber and Vettel certainly were clearly not happy with the incident, neither was the Red Bull team.
Almost double trouble for McLaren
Directly after the race it looked like Hamilton was not happy with Button's overtaking move, in the so called 'unilateral room', the room where drivers prepare themselves for the podium ceremony, there was a lot of whispering going on, and both McLaren drivers were seen looking at each other with a lot of question marks in their eyes. A McLaren team member joined them and it looked like he whispered them instructions in the ear. After some more explaining the situation became less tensed, but Hamilton was certainly not as happy as he usually is when he wins a race. What could have been going on?
Both drivers were told over the radio to save fuel, but when Hamilton questioned his team about this, it already showed he was worried Button would take the opportunity to overtake him if he would slow down. But the team assured him Button had been given the same instructions, and told him there was nothing to be worried about. Button saw an opportunity on lap 49 and could not resist overtaking Hamilton, who didn't expect to be attacked by his team mate. Hamilton probably thought Button had ignored the call to slow down, and perhaps even thought Button had betrayed him and had simply ignored any instructions given by the team.
A similar situation occurred during the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix between Ferrari drivers Didier Pironi and Gilles Villeneuve. Team principal Mauro Forghieri told both drivers to slow down to save fuel, Villeneuve slowed down, too much to the likings of Pironi, and he overtook his team mate, who tried to regain his position for several laps, but Pironi crossed the finish line first and won the race. Villeneuve felt betrayed by Pironi, and was so upset he vowed never to speak to him again. Many still believe this led to Villeneuve's fatal accident two weeks later in Belgium. The whole case became one of Formula One's greatest mysteries, until a few years ago Forghieri told an Italian newspaper the whole thing was a misunderstanding caused by miscommunication between the team and both drivers, apparently Pironi didn't know Villeneuve was told to slow down, and Villeneuve thought Pironi had blatantly ignored team orders.
But back to 2010, after the press conference during an interview with the BCC Hamilton seemed to have calmed down and looked a lot happier, and when asked about the situation he told it had been a fair battle with Button, and also admitted Button had given him enough room to make sure they didn't collide. Button had no problems either after the race, "We had a good little battle and we were wheel-to-wheel for three corners, but it positioned me wrong for the final corner, I got a poor exit and he was able to get back past me along the pits straight and on the inside into Turn One."
Ferrari not happy about 800th Grand Prix
It is definitely time for some self-reflection for Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo. Not only was his team beaten by McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes last weekend, but Ferrari was also beaten by the Renault team. Although they scored 10 points with the 7th an 8th place of Massa and Alonso, they cannot be happy with the result of their 800th Grand Prix. Both drivers blame the team for all the problems, and say Ferrari should put more effort in the development of the car. Alonso won the first race of the season in Bahrain, but after that it went downhill.
But it is not just a lack of development, qualifying in Malaysia was a disaster, Alonso ruined his chances on a podium position in China by jumping the start, in Monaco he crashed his car a few hours before qualifying, and Alonso again made a mistake during qualifying in Turkey. The Italian team was not able to challenge Renault, and both Massa and Alsonso were stuck behind Kubica and Petrov.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali completely forgot to mention Mercedes and Renault when he said: "We did not have the performance level we expected and we were definitely inferior to the two teams which dominated the Turkish weekend." And he only wants to look forward, "Now we must make a step forward to close the performance gap: our engineers are capable and ready, as they have shown so often and I am sure they will be able to do it again, improving the performance of the F10." Ferrari will have a major upgrade ready for the race in Valencia next month, but Alonso and Massa will still have the same car for the Canadian Grand Prix. Their aim for Canada is to improve the F-Duct system, and they will certainly need it on the very fast Gilles Villeneuve circuit.
Renault faster than Ferrari
Renault has made a huge progress the past few races. Kubica's excellent results have inspired the team and engineers, the car is getting faster and faster each race. Kubica was quite happy with his result, "It's been a good weekend for us and it's nice to score some more points today. Unfortunately we started the race behind the Mercedes and I remained stuck behind them all afternoon, even though my car seemed to be quicker because I could keep up with them easily." He's also confident ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, "The car felt good during the race and the updates we brought here improved the car which is encouraging for the next few races."
This weekend Petrov upped his performance significantly, he qualified ninth, only four tenths of a second slower than Kubica. He had a great race, was in ninth position for the first 39 laps and successfully kept the Ferrari of Alonso behind him. After the Red Bull disaster he was in eighth position until Alsonso spoiled Petrov's super race weekend on lap 53, he hit the Renault and that was the end of Petrov's dream. "Although I'm disappointed to miss out on points today, I really enjoyed the race and the car felt really good", the Russian commented. And he was very short and remarkably mild in his judgment of Alonso's overtaking maneuver, "At the end of the race my tyres were really worn when I was fighting with Alonso. He tried to go around the outside of me in turn three and my car pushed to the outside so we made contact which caused the puncture."
Teams need a F-Duct in Canada
Red Bull tested, but didn't us a F-Duct in Turkey, but they certainly will need one in Canada, although the Red Bull is faster when it comes to accelerating out of corners, McLaren could easily compensate that with the higher straight-line speed they have thanks to their perfectly working F- Duct system. Ferrari had a disastrous weekend and need to up their performance, or the next race will become a disaster again. Renault and Mercedes have again improved their performance and probably will do well on the very fast Canadian circuit as well.
Is the pressure now building between the Red Bull drivers, pressure that possibly would go a bit further then just a healthy rivalry between two team mates? One thing is sure, Red bull has to sort out a few issues before the next Grand Prix, the last word hasn't been said about this incident. But at least it is good to see both Red Bull and McLaren allow their drivers to race each other, team orders would definitively have spoiled the race. Team orders are not good for the sport and are also illegal, but a radio call like "guys don't do anything stupid", would in this case certainly have been the right call for Horner, unfortunately a call he never made.