Lewis Hamilton Wins a Loopy Turkish Grand Prix

Patrick AllenAnalyst IMay 30, 2010

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - MAY 30:  Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing reacts as he crashes out after colliding with his team mate Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull Racing during the Turkish Formula One Grand Prix at Istanbul Park on May 30, 2010, in Istanbul, Turkey.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

I’m not quite sure how to evaluate this race. I think up until lap 40 we had a very strong contender for "worst race of the season," then madness ensued for a few choice laps, before the race then quietened down for the finish.

Don’t get me wrong, the two exciting moments were fantastic, and Lewis and Jenson both deserved their finishing positions. However, I think it would be wrong to say this race was anything other than an ultimate disappointment.

Before the race even began there were a couple of technical issues worth a mention. Di Grassi had to be pulled off the grid and back to the pits due to an oil leak and Mark Webber had to have his rear anti-roll bar bolts changed, (as Vettel did yesterday).

In the end, neither of these issues proved fatal as di Grassi actually did a fantastic job helping Virgin Racing gain their first full team race finish, and Webber’s troubles had nothing to do with nuts and bolts.

As for the start? Well, it was a non-event really. The drivers pulled away relatively cleanly; Alonso unfortunately failed to make much of an impression from P12, and there was little to write about.

However, having said that, there was one crucial maneuver. Into turn one Schumacher managed to skilfully force his way past Button. Now, Schumacher had a far slower car than Button and if the McLaren man could not get past his ex car then the race could have been very different. Button did a fantastic job passing the Mercedes driver at the end of lap one and this would be significant as the race developed.

The full positions (when they were finally revealed!) after lap six were as follows:

Webber, Hamilton, Vettel, Button, Schumacher, Rosberg, Kubica, Massa, Petrov, Sutil, Kobayashi, Alonso, de la Rossa, Alguersuari, Liuzzi, Barrichello, Trulli, Knovalainen, Senna, Glock, Hulkenberg (who was forced to pit with a damaged car), Chandhok, di Grassi, Buemi (in last place after a forced stop having suffered a puncture).

By lap seven, the racing was tight but with no significant moves. Three laps later, Button’s lap one overtake showed its importance as Schumacher slowed the rest of the grid up and the race developed into a four horse event.

The first of the scheduled stops came on lap 10 when Barichello darted in. He was followed two laps later by Alonso, who had done very little so far.

Back at the front of the grid, the McLarens were certainly fast, but unfortunately this speed led many to believe that the Vodaphone team would simply wait until Red Bull pitted and overtake on pit stops (not exactly what the 2010 rule changes had planned)!

So this seemed like the sensible thing to do and many were shocked by the early stop from Vettel on lap 15. Surely this was a little too soon to pit the German? The McLarens sensed an opportunity and pushed on.

However, it was a real shock to see Lewis following Webber into the pits just one lap later. Unfortunately for Hamilton, there was a slight issue with his rear left tire, and not only was he beaten out of the pit lane by Webber, but he also found himself behind Vettel when he rejoined the race!

On the face of it, this would seem to be a McLaren mistake. However, it was actually a very reactionary move from Red Bull, who saw the McLaren boys were in the pit lane and decided to pull Webber in at the same time.

Due to the positions on the pit boxes it was very likely Red Bull could get Webber out first anyway and McLaren would have known this. Unfortunately for Hamilton, the two drivers were so close on the track that by the time McLaren realised what was happening it was too late.

The very next lap Button pitted from P1 and joined in P4; status quo was re-established. To be perfectly frank, from this pathetically early point in the race it looked as if it was all over.

The positions were as follows:

Webber, Vettel, Hamilton, Button, Schumacher, Rosberg, Kubica, Massa, Petrov, Alonso, Kobayashi, Sutil, de la Rossa, Alguersuari, Liuzzi, Hulkenberg, Kovalainen, Barrichello, Trulli, Senna, Glock, Buemi, di Grassi, Chandhok.

By lap 21 everyone was getting desperate. So much so the paddock went mad with threats of rain. Of course, with nothing else to talk about the commentators also latched on to this fact and rather than talk about the "action" began planning hypothetical events should the wet stuff grace us with its presence.

Now, I know Bernie is a powerful man, but even he can’t change the weather. So it was no surprise that 10 laps later there was no change and no rain!

Lap 35 brought at least something to write about when both Lotus cars were forced to retire with hydraulic failures. So I was getting ready for a little nap when…it happened!

Sure, the top four had been pretty close, but the cameras were practically off with the fairies by lap 40. The commentary team at the BBC were clutching at straws and roping David Coulthard in for some expert advice on how to remain interested in watching paint dry.

Suddenly, out of the blue, the screen cuts to the Red Bulls side by side going into the final corner, Coulthard groans, why? Is there a delay on the transmission? Then it happens…Vettel looks to swerve right into Webber and the Red Bulls find themselves off the track and behind McLaren.

Vettel’s car was wrecked, and all he had left to do was throw his hands in the air and generally look shocked. Webber, meanwhile, had come out of the collision hurt, but not finished. The Australian made it to the pits where new tires and a new front wing were fitted. This was a moment of absolute madness from Red Bull Racing and I don’t think we’ll get the full story for many hours!

The entertainment then switched off the track as hilarious fights began to break out between journalists and Red Bull team staff. I highly recommend watching the re-run of the BBC’s coverage as there was a particularly amusing tussle between a feisty white shirted journalist and a Red Bull employee who had clearly drunk too much of his team’s drink!

We did get one last gasp of truly exciting action when Button and Hamilton had a great fight from the end of lap 48 to the first corner of lap 49. Again, I would highly recommend checking out YouTube of the BBC iPlayer for this maneuver as it was like being back in the '90s!

First, Button took Hamilton in the last corners, then Hamilton moved right up to the back of Jenson before finally nudging past into turn one. Great stuff from two very respectful and evidently talented drivers.

One final pass came from Alonso taking P8 from Petrov on the last lap. Of course, I was personally pleased to see the Spaniard get through, but an unfortunate puncture Petrov suffered, as a result of the move, ruined an otherwise fantastic race for the young Russian.

And that was that. The McLarens had to save fuel, and Webber was too far back to do anything. A quick shout out to Alguersuari, who set his first ever fastest lap of the race on a new set of tires.

As I said at the beginning, this race was far from exciting for the vast majority of the laps. However, those last minute developments really picked it up by the scruff of its neck and gave it a shake. I can’t tell you what is going to happen in the Red Bull garage tonight, but it looks as if Webber is pretty mad about the situation.

Personally, I think it was Vettel’s fault, and I think he knows it. A silly mistake, but it gave the race a needed shot in the arm. I’m really sorry Mark, you're one of my favourite drivers, but that incident saved the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix!


Driver’s top Three

Webber 93

Button 88

Hamilton 84


Constructor's Top Three

McLaren 172

Red Bull 171

Ferrari 146


Final results

1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes

2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes

3 Mark Webber RBR-Renault

4 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP

5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP

6 Robert Kubica Renault

7 Felipe Massa Ferrari

8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari

9 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes

10 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari

11 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari

12 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari

13 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes

14 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth

15 Vitaly Petrov Renault

16 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari

17 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth

18 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth

19 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth

20 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth

Ret Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth

Ret Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault

Ret Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth

Ret Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth