Sebastian Vettel’s drive to victory in Istanbul was near faultless, and with team mate Mark Webber backing him up in second, it was another ‘maximum’ weekend for Red Bull. The real news, however, was behind them. Practice and qualifying had suggested Mercedes were the team set to take over from McLaren as the blue cars’ biggest threat. Come the race, however, and it was Fernando Alonso and Ferrari who emerged to pick up that mantle. We take a team-by-team look at how things played out at round four.
Sebastian Vettel, P1
Mark Webber, P2
Vettel had a pluperfect race without any problems, running at the front and opening a crucial advantage early on as fast-starting Rosberg held back Webber and Alonso. Thereafter he and Red Bull gauged their strategy according to what their rivals were doing and helped their man to win his third of the season’s four races and stretch his points lead to 34 over Hamilton. Webber lost ground starting on the dirty side of the grid, passed Rosberg after five laps, then lost out to Alonso as the Spaniard had a mid-race advantage. Using the set of new tyres he’d harvested by doing only one qualifying run, however, the Australian was able to turn the tables later on. A Red Bull one-two was a marked contrast to last year’s result here.
Fernando Alonso, P3
Felipe Massa, P11
While Alonso had a great race and ran second, ahead of Webber for some time in the middle, before the Australian had a tyre advantage late in the race, Massa had an awful time with two botched pit stops which kept him to an 11th place finish. Alonso felt that the bodywork upgrades had worked well and led to some improvement, but admitted that having to spend time early on chasing after Rosberg really hurt his albeit slim chances of challenging Vettel. Nevertheless, a maiden 2011 podium was a much-needed boost for the Scuderia.
Lewis Hamilton, P4
Jenson Button, P6
Hamilton’s race came unstuck when he ran wide in Turn Three fighting Webber for third place on the opening lap, and then an ensuing battle with Button, which obliged McLaren to switch him to ‘Plan B’, a four-stop strategy. With this he salvaged fourth place. Button stuck with three stops, which he later felt was a mistake that left him unable to defend fourth in the final stages from either Hamilton or Rosberg. All in all, though, they were happy to take fourth and sixth, especially as a machine failure back at the Woking factory had prevented them running the upgrades they hoped to have in Turkey.
Nico Rosberg, P5
Michael Schumacher, P12
Mercedes started with high hopes after qualifying, and when Roberg jumped into second at the start. But he soon faded, partly because of two mid-race stints on the hard tyre. Later he was able to fight back against three-stopping Button, to salvage fifth place. Schumacher admitted that a second-lap brush with Petrov ruined his own race as he had to pit for a new front wing, and more often than not got beaten up in his battles with the likes of Massa, Alguersuari, Sutil and Petrov.
Nick Heidfeld, P7
Vitaly Petrov, P8
Petrov’s race was compromised when he and Schumacher collided in Turn 12 on lap two, and later he survived a brush with team mate Heidfeld. They four-stopped their way to eighth and seventh places respectively, without further dramas, catching and passing Buemi in the closing stages.
Sebastien Buemi, P9
Jaime Alguersuari, P16
Buemi was in the hunt for points all afternoon, and was unlucky when the Renaults ganged up on him and pushed him from seventh to ninth in the closing laps when he could barely hold the wheel because of serious tyre vibrations. Alguersuari had a great fight with Massa and Schumacher, but had to switch from a three- to a four-stop strategy because of serious rear tyre degradation and resultant oversteer.
Kamui Kobayashi, P10
Sergio Perez, P14
Kobayashi drove superbly from the back of the grid to 10th on a three-stop strategy, but might well have finished seventh but for a puncture incurred in a brush with Buemi. Perez hit Maldonado on the first lap, breaking his own front wing, and later had some good fights, notably with Sutil who repassed him at the end so that they crossed the line separated by 0.00s in 13th and 14th places.
Adrian Sutil, P13
Paul di Resta, Retired lap 44, undisclosed
Sutil was in the fight all afternoon, and pulled off a spectacular pass on Schumacher in Turn One, then right at the end repassed Perez to snatch 13th on a day when points were hard to come by. Di Resta started on the same three-stop strategy, but switched to four when his VJM04 lacked pace. Three laps from home he was told to stop, when the team detected an imminent but undisclosed technical problem.
Rubens Barrichello, P15
Pastor Maldonado, P17
Another unhappy race for Williams, with Barrichello in the thick of the midfield fight but ultimately only able to bring his FW33 home 15th, and Maldonado was 17th after incurring a drive-through penalty for pit-lane speeding.
Jarno Trulli, P18
Heikki Kovalainen, P19
Trulli had a reliable run in his Lotus, and a great battle at one stage with team mate Kovalainen, but the Finn’s car later dropped away with hydraulic problems that affected the differential and the DRS.
Jerome D'Ambrosio, P20
Timo Glock, DNS
Virgin lost Glock after his MVR-02 developed a fifth-gear problem and didn’t make the grid, and they ran out of time to try an ambitious gearbox change, but D’Ambrosio brought his car home 20th after a solid two-stop race.
Narain Karthikeyan, P21
Tonio Liuzzi, P22
Liuzzi was into a strong run until a wheel fixing problem twice caused his right front tyre to puncture. Thereafter he lost time limping back to the pits and then having the problem rectified. Karthikeyan, however, had a reliable run.