12.45pm BST Hello and welcome to forumula1.com’s live coverage of the Turkish Grand Prix 2011.
The weather in Istanbul is fine and sunny, hot and completely unlike it was in practice on Friday.
Sebastian Vettel is on pole position and his only potential Achilles heel is the KERS system which, it is thought, presents a bit of an issue for the Red Bull team.
“We think so,” says Vettel when asked by Martin Brundle of the BBC if his KERS is working. He’s more confident on tyres. “We saved one set of options which can only help, it’s a hard track on tyres, the loads are very high…it won’t be easy…but things are looking good,” he finishes.
What is more, it looks as though we will not have Timo Glock as there are massive problems with his new gearbox. You would have thought it would be worth the Virgin team’s while to get out on track even if they are a few laps down, but Glock does not sound hopeful even of that.
The only other news prior to the race is that Bernie Ecclestone has rejected the idea that the teams talking to News Corp will strengthen their hand in further negotiations, as he insists the sport is not for sale. His central argument is that on pay TV teams would struggle to get sponsors because of a smaller TV audience.
Anyway, back to the action. It’s now around ten minutes before the race start and the excitement is building.
12.54pm They are now all sitting on the grid and focusing on the run down to the first turn, which is a comparatively short run here.
12.56pm The teams are now leaving the grid.
12.58pm And off on the parade lap they go.
They seem to be taking ages to line up…
Lap 1 And they’re off! Straight down to the first corner they go and Rosberg has had a terrific start…It’s Vettel from Rosberg, Webber didn’t have a great start but has held onto third…Lewis Hamilton has fallen back at Turn 3 after running wide trying to get past Webber…and Alonso and Button are past the Englishman.
Lap 2 Michael Schumacher is seventh now and Kobayashi is already up to 20th from the back of the grid. Hamilton is threatening Button. And Schumacher and Petrov have come together! Petrov was well up on Schumacher into the final hairpin and the old man should have let him go! Schumacher pits with a damaged front wing but Petrov might have escaped.
Lap 3 Button and Hamilton are fighting like cat and dog.
Lap 4 Button remains ahead and now things have calmed down a bit.
Lap 5 Webber has taken Rosberg in a candy from a baby move! What was Rosberg doing? He didn’t seem to defend at all…and now Alonso is breathing down their necks. Meanwhile Hamilton is up on Button throughout the lap but leading onto the long back straight he loses out, meaning he can’t profit from the now-enabled DRS and KERS.
Lap 6 In a replay of last year’s dogfight Hamilton gets past Button into the hairpin only for the Frome man to retake him into the final corner!
Lap 7 And Hamilton is back past into Turn One! He looks to hold that place. And Alonso is now past Rosberg too…there’s something unstable about that Mercedes under braking methinks.
Lap 8 Button has retaken Hamilton into Turn One on the very next lap…now Massa is on the back of Hamilton in seventh. Hamilton “may have burnt the tyres already,” hypothesises David Coulthard on the BBC.
Lap 9 The order is Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Rosberg, Button, Hamilton, Massa, Heidfeld.
Lap 10 Massa is past Hamilton but they both immediately dive into the pits. Hamilton overtakes Massa in the pits, what great work from McLaren! It might have been an unsafe release from Ferrari there, but Massa yielded.
Lap 11 Webber, Alonso and Rosberg all pit. They emerge in the same order, but Rosberg has kept himself in front of Hamilton and Massa. McLaren tell Hamilton that they are looking at Plan B, whatever that might mean.
Lap 12 Leader Vettel pits. This is incredible, that it is so early in the race and we are already pitting. Massa is threatening the back of Hamilton and has just done the fastest lap of the race. He may yet suffer from something that Ted Kravitz says had “all the hallmarks of an unsafe release”. Meanwhile, the Renaults are at it hammer and tongs….Petrov basically barged Heidfeld off the track and there was contact.
Lap 13 Rosberg is being chased by Hamilton in earnest…and the leader Button pits.
Lap 14 It’s now sorted itself out…Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Rosberg, Hamilton, Massa, Button, Petrov, Heidfeld, Buemi, Barrichello, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Sutil, di Resta, Kovalainen, Maldonado, Perez, d’Ambrosio, Alguersuari, Liuzzi.
Lap 15 Hamilton has passed Rosberg somewhere. We know not where and no one else seems to have noticed. Except for the drivers, they will have done.
Lap 16 Schumacher has been passed by Kobayashi and both the Force Indias. He is having a torrid time. Why doesn’t he just call it a day?
Lap 17 Massa is looking at Rosberg with intent. Mercedes’ pace today is not good, which is a disappointment for them. Under braking Rosberg’s machine seems to twitch unhappily like a dying stoat.
Lap 18 Kobayashi is up to 11th – what a performance so far. Meanwhile Hamilton has been told to conserve his rears through the legendary Turn 8. I hope Lewis knows how to do that.
Lap 19 The Red Bulls are serene up front, but you wouldn’t bet on them winning comfortably just yet. Alonso looks mean and dangerous, especially with more pitstops coming up. Tyre wear is a massive factor today.
Lap 20 Massa cannot get past Rosberg, despite being very close to him. I tell a lie – he’s through before the back straight…but Rosberg comes back at him and gets past him through the twisty section at the end of the lap! Great stuff!
Lap 21 Button, who was shadowing the pair, now takes advantage and gets past Rosberg, who had just lost out to Massa a corner or two before! What great action! Button was so brave around the last turn…elsewhere, Hamilton and Webber have pitted for a second time.
Lap 22 And now Button is on the back of Massa, whose tyres must have taken a beating in all the combat with Rosberg.
Lap 23 Button gets past Massa, who so very nearly clatters into the Brit under braking for the hairpin. Massa has to make an emergency stop. Kobayashi takes Buemi for what is 15th, but then pits.
Lap 24 Hamilton is on a four stop strategy, it appears, while Button is on a three-stopper.
Lap 25 This is mental, there is so much going on. Vettel now pits…and is out onto a clear track. It has fallen to the German so far in terms of traffic. Alonso, in third, is looming large in the mirrors of Webber and is by no means out of the running for the win.
Lap 26 Alonso sets the fastest lap and Button pits…he is out ahead of Rosberg. Good for him, although it wasn’t the cleanest of stops.
Lap 27 Ted Kravitz reckons Button is on for second place with his three stop strategy. Webber gets told to hurry up by Red Bull.
Lap 28 Finally, some calm.
Lap 29 Alonso has got past Webber who was too careful on the brakes into the hairpin towards the end of the lap. There have been some too easy passes this race, where has the art of defending gone?
Lap 30 Button is fighting Massa for sixth place at the moment. The order is Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Hamilton, Petrov, Massa, Button, Rosberg, Heidfeld, Schumacher, Buemi, Barrichello, Sutil, Kobayashi, di Resta, Perez, Alguersuari, Maldonado, Kovalainen, Trulli, d’Ambrosio, Karthikeyan.
Lap 31 Button fell off Massa a bit this lap.
Lap 32 Hamilton is galloping away from Petrov. The Englishman may have learnt how to conserve his rubber a bit, it seems.
Lap 33 Alonso is shaving tenths here and there off Vettel in the lead. You imagine the German has something in the locker, but this race is a return to form of sorts for the Spaniard.
Lap 34 Rosberg pits again. Button makes an unsuccessful attempt to get past Massa.
Lap 35 Button is through down the back straight and Hamilton pits for his third time and it’s a disaster….there was a long delay on the right front. He remains ahead of Felipe Massa but that will have cost him significantly.
Lap 36 There’s now talk that Hamilton may run to the end on those tyres to put him back into contention. Massa ran very wide at Turn 8 and had a ding-dong battle with Kobayashi as he came back on track. He’s now 12th.
Lap 37 Alonso pits and comes out comfortably ahead of Webber. It may not be good enough for him to fight Vettel though.
Lap 38 Webber has not given up – he sets the fastest lap. Button, in fourth, is 48 seconds adrift of the leader Vettel but he will only have to stop once more. The dark horse for the race win?
Lap 39 Alonso returns the favour with a fastest lap.
Lap 40 The order is Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Button, yet to pit Buemi, Hamilton, Ros, Petrov, Barrichello, Heidfeld, Schumacher, Massa, Sutil, Alguersuari, di Resta.
Lap 41 Vettel pits again. He may not stop again now, and if he doesn’t, you can’t really see the others beating him. Alonso, Webber and Hamilton will however be on fresh rubber in the closing stages.
Lap 42 Alonso is still going hard at it.
Lap 43 It has calmed down, now, which means everyone can take a breather. There has been so much action, it’s exhausting, but a wonderful thing for the spectacle.
Lap 44 Maldonado is being investigated for speeding in the pit lane.
Lap 45 It is thought that Alonso will mirror what Vettel does as far as regards stops. Maldonado duly has a drive-through penalty. Rosberg pits. Buemi gets past Schumacher.
Lap 46 Webber makes his fourth stop. Paul di Resta has stopped out on track.
Lap 47 Alonso pits, which means he and Webber will both be on fresh tyres for the final stages. He is followed into the pits, a bit later, by Hamilton and then Massa. Hamilton emerges behind Button! Button’s strategy has paid off it seems.
Lap 48 Vettel has decided to pit again, to cover the other two. Brave, but sensible. He will now be much less vulnerable in the last few laps. Massa had a bad stop just now, he was spinning the wheels so the mechanics couldn’t get the right rear on. Wally.
Lap 49 Someone who may be vulnerable is Button, to his charging team mate. And there it is. Hamilton is past Button, whose strategy has now been shown to have been optimistic. Rosberg may catch him, even, so he will have a fight on his hands to hold onto fifth. Button is losing a second a lap now to the German.
Lap 50 Now fourth, Hamilton is some way off Webber, and McLaren tell him he will only get third if anyone in front of him has issues. Webber, meanwhile, is chasing Alonso with a vengeance…that will get tasty soon.
Lap 51 Webber has taken Alonso! What racing here! Nothing is final though, Alonso may have a say towards the end of the lap.
Lap 52 No, Webber has made the second place a solid one. No chance of him getting Vettel, you would have thought, but he is taking a tenth off his team mate or so per lap.
Lap 53 Schumacher gets passed by Massa, but then promptly retakes him. For 12th.
Lap 54 Massa and Alguersuari both sweep past Schumacher, but he gets Alguersuari back. Lovely stuff.
Lap 55 Rosberg, as expected, now takes Button rather easily as the Englishman’s tyres have, in that colourful phrase, fallen off the cliff.
Lap 56 This looks to be done and dusted here, really. Button could lose more places but everybody else in the top ten looks comfortable. It is Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Hamilton, Rosberg, Button, Heidfeld, Buemi, Petrov, Kobayashi (!), Massa, Schumacher, Sutil, Perez, Barrichello.
Lap 57 Vettel’s advantage is eight seconds and although he has traffic he is progressing through calmly in the regal manner he is making his own this season.
SEBASTIAN VETTEL WINS THE TURKISH GRAND PRIX
Webber is second with Alonso third and Hamilton fourth.
Rosberg is fifth with Button holding on for sixth. Heidfeld makes it home seventh and Petrov passed Buemi in the final corners to take eighth. Kobayashi did excellently to take the final points position.
That’s it from me, thanks for following.