7 June 2009
Button damns statistics for Istanbul F1 glory
Jenson Button had vowed to re-write the unwritten Formula 1 rule that says the pole-sitter always wins the Turkish Grand Prix – and in dashing Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel's dreams in the 2009 edition, the current world championship leader did just that.
The Brawn GP star took advantage of an opening lap error by Vettel to pounce and dive past into the lead around the undulating, technically challenging and physically demanding, anti-clockwise Istanbul Park Circuit – and he went on to fairly crush the opposition with his searing raw pace and flawless consistency, meaning he will travel to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix in front of his adoring home supporters in a fortnight's time with a 26-point lead in the drivers' title chase, and every inch the 2009 F1 World Champion in-waiting.
A textbook getaway propelled pole-sitter Vettel into the lead when the lights went out, with Button – who had positioned his car aggressively pointing inwards on the grid – slotting into second as a fast-starting Jarno Trulli in the Toyota vaulted up to third, with Rubens Barrichello in the second Brawn entry bogging down and falling back ten places to 13th.
Later around the lap, however, Vettel's costly error as the young German got out-of-shape on the exit of turn nine enabled Button to snatch the lead, and the Briton immediately set about pulling away, lapping as much as a second quicker than his Red Bull pursuer despite carrying two laps' more fuel on-board. Less than a lap into the grand prix, and it was already advantage Brawn – and Vettel would never truly regain his lost momentum.
Behind the lead pair, Mark Webber in the second RBR battled his way past Trulli for third, with Nico Rosberg in the Williams making impressive progress from ninth on the grid in aggressively fighting his way past both Ferraris and up to fifth.
The remainder of the top ten early on was completed by Istanbul specialist Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica, Kimi Raikkonen and Kazuki Nakajima, with Raikkonen slipping back to ninth as a result of tapping the rear of Alonso's Renault and losing part of his front wing. Barrichello, meanwhile, was finding his progress frustrated by the KERS-equipped McLaren-Mercedes of Heikki Kovalainen, finally finding a way by on lap seven only for his Finnish adversary to exploit his power 'boost' button on the following straight to go immediately back past him again.
Indeed, things would soon go from bad to worse for the veteran Brazilian – the most experienced driver in F1 history – as he went for the inside into turn nine and almost collected Kovalainen as he spun his chances away. That left him to rejoin even further back in 17th, behind the second McLaren of Lewis Hamilton – which was carrying an even heavier fuel load than the sister Silver Arrow...
The racy-looking São Paulista – by now missing seventh gear, to add to his woes – made much shorter work of the defending world champion, however, as his team-mate continued to edge clear at the front of the field, holding a 3.7-second advantage over Vettel nine laps in, with Webber five seconds further in arrears in third and Trulli and Rosberg holding on well in fourth and fifth respectively.
Barrichello's next drama came when he lost his front wing endplate as he attempted in vain to wrest 15th place away from Adrian Sutil in the Force India, though the sister VJM02 of Giancarlo Fisichella had long since trundled into retirement in the Silverstone-based squad's pit garage with ongoing braking issues, meaning the Italian has still to complete more than a handful of racing laps in Turkey in the last four years, though on this occasion he did at least get slightly further than his successive first corner exits in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
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