Defending drivers world champion Sebastian Vettel consolidated his lead in this year’s title race with a near-flawless drive to victory for Red Bull in yesterday’s Turkish Grand Prix.
The 23-year-old German led from his 19th career pole position to the checkered flag unchallenged, conceding the lead only once during his pit stops, as he claimed his third win in four races this year.
It was the 13th win of his career and another day of celebration for the Red Bull team as Vettel’s teammate Australian Mark Webber overtook in a brilliant maneuver in the closing stages two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari to finish second.
It was the England-based team’s first one-two of the season and came at the conclusion of an action-packed contest full of overtaking moves and incidents.
Alonso, reveling in a much-improved Ferrari, finished third ahead of Briton Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion, who came home fourth for McLaren after a typically roller-coaster afternoon, including one pit stop wrecked by a sticky wheel nut.
For Alonso and Ferrari, it was their first podium finish of the season and confirmed they are back among the contenders after a tricky start to the year.
Germany’s Nico Rosberg was fifth for Mercedes ahead of Briton Jenson Button in the second McLaren, the 2009 champion losing ground after planning a three-stop race, while most of his rivals went for four.
Nick Heidfeld finished seventh for Renault ahead of Russian Vitaly Petrov in the second Renault, Swiss Sebastien Buemi of Toro Rosso and the dazzling Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber, who finished 10th after starting at the back of the grid.
Germany’s seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, 42, finished a disappointing 12th for Mercedes, one place behind Ferrari’s Brazilian Felipe Massa, his former teammate.
At the start, Vettel swept clear of the field to establish his supremacy, while behind him Rosberg also enjoyed a faultless getaway off the grid that took him up to second ahead of Webber.
The Australian, like most of the men starting from the “dirty” outside of the grid, was unable to resist Rosberg’s surge, while Hamilton, after an initial bold assault to gain places, over-played his efforts and dropped back to sixth behind Alonso and Button.
All of this frantic action left Vettel in control after the opening laps ahead of the pack, while Massa fought his way up to seventh for Ferrari. Schumacher was involved in a collision with Petrov’s Renault, the German turning in and touching the Renault’s rear wheels.
This resulted in a pit stop for a new front wing for Schumacher, who fell to the back of the field, while Hamilton and Button, the McLaren teammates, fought for fifth place.
Their battle saw the 2008 champion surge past the 2009 champion on lap seven only to see their positions reversed a lap later, Hamilton having worn his tires severely.