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Desperate Vettel hands McLaren Turkish 1-2

30 May 2010

Lewis Hamilton headed McLaren team-mate Jenson Button to an unexpected 1-2 finish in the Turkish Grand Prix after Red Bull colleagues Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber contrived to throw away a similar result.

Hamilton spoke in Saturday's post-qualifying press conference of being ready to take any opportunity that might allow him to take his first win of the season but, after losing an early second place to Vettel during the pit-stops, the Briton appeared destined for third place.

All that changed 18 laps from home, however, when Vettel, having closed on Webber, decided to chance his arm on the run into turn twelve. Having got alongside the Australian, Vettel's car failed to fill the Red Bull-sized gap left by his team-mate and, edging right, made hard contact with its twin. Both cars headed into the copious run-off area, Vettel having spun several times, and narrowly avoided making secondary contact as Webber attempt to find his way back onto the track.

Vettel was out on the spot, clearly unhappy with what he felt was an error - a moment of madness - by his team-mate, but Webber was able to limp back into the action, eventually stopping for new tyres and front wing with the left-hand side of his car showing its battle scars.

Such was the leading quartet's advantage over the rest of the field, the recovering Australian was able to stop and rejoin ahead of fourth-placed Michael Schumacher, the veteran no doubt having eyed his first podium since emerging from retirement, but the Red Bull was no longer a threat to the fleeing McLarens.

Incredibly, however, the two silver machines almost threatened their own chances of a second 1-2 this season. Just seven laps after seeing their main rivals disappear off-track, and having both been told to conserve fuel, Hamilton and Button continued to dispute the lead.

With rain finally appearing on their visors - having first been predicted on lap 20 - Button closed on his countryman and, approaching the same piece of track where Vettel and Webber had collided, moved to the outside. Holding his nerve, and with Hamilton sensibly holding his line, the reigning world champion managed to go the long way around into turn twelve, grabbing the inside for the switchback into 13 and then closing off Hamilton's line for the final turn.

Hamilton, however, had already decided to improve his exit from the corner and, tucking back into Button's wake, was able to pop out well before the start of lap 48, diving to the inside into turn one. The two touched briefly, but there was no repeat of the RBR outcome, and, amid further warnings about the state of their fuel consumption, Button backed away.

A little over three seconds split the two McLarens as Hamilton crossed the line to take the chequered flag and his first win of the season at a circuit where he starred in the GP2 Series. Webber crossed the line over 20secs further back, and the same trio now occupy the top three positions in the world championship, albeit in reverse order, with Webber enjoying a five-point margin over Button, with Hamilton a further four points adrift.

Immediately behind the action at the front, the race was strangely static. Schumacher briefly grabbed fourth from Button off the line, but succumbed to the Briton's F-duct on the way to turn twelve before the lap was out. From there, the German had a relatively comfortable ride to fourth, with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg running just over a second adrift behind him.

Likewise, Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa remained in formation throughout, the Renault-mounted Pole only appearing threatened when the pair pitted together on lap 13, but managed to rejoin just ahead of the Ferrari, which had to settle for seventh and eighth on the occasion of the team's 800th grand prix appearance.

Massa was backed up by Fernando Alonso, who recovered from a disappointing qualifying session that left him twelfth fastest to claim four points, but had to thank a touch with the stubborn Vitaly Petrov that left the hapless Russian with a puncture. Petrov made it back to the pits and, armed with fresh rubber, showed just what the Renault was capable of by clocking the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate tour.

Adrian Sutil managed to get the better of Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi early on, and the move proved enough to give the German ninth place in the final reckoning. Kobayashi still had reason to be satisfied, however, with tenth place enough to open Sauber's account for the season after six races of frustration for the Swiss team.

Pedro de la Rosa backed his rookie team-mate up in eleventh, the first time that Sauber has got both cars to the finish, with Jaime Alguersuari - another to temporarily hold fastest lap courtesy of fresh tyres - heading Tonio Liuzzi, Rubens Barrichello and Petrov.

Sebastien Buemi saw his race effectively ended when he had to pit with a puncture on lap one, but still managed to battle his way back past the new team drivers, and the second development-restricted Williams of Nico Hulkenberg to claim 16th.

Lotus should have won the newcomer battle having dominated qualifying, but Jarno Trulli retired on lap 32 and team-mate Heikki Kovalainen stopped in the pits a lap later, handing the initiative to an increasingly-solid Virgin Racing. Although Lucas di Grassi was forced to start from pit-lane after a late oil leak was detected on his VR-01, the Brazilian provided adequate back-up to team-mate Timo Glock as the Dinnington equipe claimed a division three 1-2. HRT's Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok were both late retirements.

Formula One now heads to Canada with Red Bull having ceded the constructors' advantage to McLaren, and the Woking team appearing to have made significant gains on track as well as off it. Red Bull, meanwhile, showed that it is still capable of shooting itself in the foot, underlining the fact that the championship battle is far from over.


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