McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh described today’s Turkish Grand Prix as the perfect result for his team, as Lewis Hamilton and Jenson took advantage of the collision between Red Bull’s drivers to take their second one-two of the season.
Both drivers had been menacing from the start and took the fight to Red Bull throughout the race, with thanks to the superior straight line speed of the MP4-25.
Following the incident between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, the two British drivers soon became involved in their own inter-team battle for the lead. However, unlike Red Bull, Hamilton and Button kept the racing fair to finish the race in formation.
Lewis Hamilton – 1st:“It was quite an eventful race. I didn’t get a great start, it looked like I had a better reaction than Mark [Webber], but the car just didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Fortunately, I was able to attack Sebastian [Vettel] into Turn Three – I got past him, which was a relief, then I was challenging Mark for a long time, before I lost some time to him at the pitstop, when my right rear took longer than normal to go on.
“So then I had to battle two Red Bulls rather than just one; it was hard enough trying to overtake one of them, so trying to overtaking two was really tough. But the good thing is that I had the race pace to keep up with them, even though I was having to keep an eye on my fuel consumption from early on. But anyway, unfortunately for them, they collided and enabled us to get past.
“After that, I felt confident we could get a potential one-two, and we were trying to look after the tyres and save the fuel to the finish. The [laptime] target they gave me was perhaps a little bit slower than they’d meant, so Jenson was suddenly on my tail. I had a great battle with him, and was happy to get past because it was quite a surprise.
“We’re allowed to race out there, but we have to be sensible. At the end of the day we’re a team: we both want to win the constructors’ title and we both want to win the drivers’ title. But we’re not stupid. I wouldn’t do anything dangerous to touch Jenson and vice versa and that’s the great thing about racing each other. We know we have that cushion and that respect for each other, so we don’t really have a problem with it.
“Having said all that, winning today doesn’t feel quite as good as it sometimes does. That’s because it’s a little bit different from some of my previous race victories: ideally, the racer in me wants to win by overtaking the guys in front, not by seeing them crash out in front of me. Rather than inheriting a win, it’s much nicer to fight your way past your rivals and earn the win the hard way.
“Still, I’m very happy for the team. My girlfriend is here too, which is nice, and my dad is on holiday and I really wanted to win today so that I could dedicate the win to him. It’s his 50th birthday tomorrow, you see, and a grand prix victory is the best birthday present I could ever give him.”
Jenson Button – 2nd:“What a crazy race! I got a good start, but I was stuck behind Lewis going into Turn One, and then Michael [Schumacher] was able to get round the outside of me. I got Michael back into Turn 12, though, which was very rewarding after Barcelona, and then it was four of us, two McLarens and two Red Bulls, who pulled away.
“It was very difficult to get close enough to overtake, but I was able to look after the tyres, and then just before the stop I pushed and was able to close up to Sebastian I thought maybe I could jump him but that wasn’t the case in the end. Even so, we were all running pretty close and anything could have happened at the end of the race which it duly bdid when the two Red Bulls got together, which gave Lewis and me a good one-two.
“We were then both told to conserve fuel although I’d already been conserving fuel for about 30 laps at that point actually and we never imagined the pace of the race would be so fast.
“At the end, I had a run on Lewis out of Turn Eight. I don’t know why he was a bit slow, but I got a good run into Turn 12 and managed to get past him. We had a good little battle and we were wheel-to-wheel for three corners, but it positioned me wrong for the final corner, I got a poor exit and he was able to get back past me along the pits straight and on the inside into Turn One.
“After that, I was told to save even more fuel because I was pretty close to critical. It was a tough battle, but we didn’t touch and we still finished first and second, so that’s how you do it.”
Martin Whitmarsh – Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:“Today’s race had everything: drama, suspense, excitement and a perfect result from a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes point of view. The 43 world championship points we earned from our one-two finish have propelled us to the top of the constructors’ world championship. But we’re particularly encouraged by the fact that, despite our having to ask both our drivers to drive with fuel conservation in mind from early in the race, it was immediately clear that Lewis had the pace to pull away if only he could have passed Mark and he very nearly did on a number of occasions. It was edge-of-the-seat stuff and Jenson was pushing Sebastian pretty hard just a few hundred metres behind.
“After the Red Bulls fell over each other, Lewis and Jenson raced each other pretty hard whilst still driving with fuel conservation in mind, and I imagine their dice made hugely entertaining TV, too.
“On the slow-down lap, Jenson congratulated Lewis on the radio, which is an eloquent illustration of the affection and respect they have for each other.
“Looking forward to the Canadian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, we’re pleased to have closed the performance gap to Red Bull, and are hopeful of bagging another hefty haul of world championship points in Montreal. But I want to stress that I can only say that as a result of the fact that everyone in the entire Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team our drivers, our engineers, our mechanics and every single person who works so hard back at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking [Surrey, UK] is so motivated, so driven and so committed to the cause.”