• May 8, 2011
2011 Turkish Grand Prix – Click above for high-res image gallery

Few could have seen it coming: The team that was started by a multiple world champion, then taken over by a British automaker only to be bought out by a beverage company would win the world championship. And win it in spectacular style, too. But surely it was a fluke when Red Bull rose to the top of the heap last season. A fluke like when Brawn GP seized the championship the year before. A fluke the likes of which we hadn't seen – amid decades of Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Benetton/Renault alternating for the trophy – since Matra and Tyrrell scored the titles in '69 and '71 respectively – at the hands of the same Jackie Stewart who, in 1997, started the team now known as Red Bull. That kind of fluke, right? They couldn't possibly keep it up...could they?

Well, if Red Bull was to fall off the podium this season like Brawn did after its title and acquisition by Mercedes-Benz, we certainly wouldn't know it from the first three rounds so far. Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel took pole position at all three opening rounds, turning them into two wins upset only by fellow champion Lewis Hamilton taking the top step in Shanghai. Would Vettel and Red Bull take their place at the top again this weekend in Istanbul? Would Hamilton be poised to upset his Germanic rivals once again? Or would it be someone else's chance this time? Follow the jump to read on and find out.

Friday's practice sessions looked ominous for the young defending champion, as Vettel skidded off track in the rain on a triple-apex left-hander. Fortunately his team was able to repair his car and Vettel his form to come back on pole position the following day – making it four for four in qualifying for Sebastian. Beside him, his trusty wingman Mark Webber. Third position went surprisingly to Mercedes GP's Nico Rosberg, who outpaced McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in fourth. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso qualified fifth ahead of McLaren's Jenson Button (6), Renault's Vitaly Petrov (7), Mercedes' Michael Schumacher (8), Renault's Nick Heidfeld (9) and Ferrari's Felipe Massa (10). Rubens Barrichello (Williams), Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta (Force India), Pastor Maldonado (Williams), Sergio Perez (Sauber), Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso), Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli (Lotus), Jerome d'Ambrosio (Virgin), Tonio Liuzzi (HRT), Timo Glock (Virgin) and Narain Karthikeyan (HRT) rounded out the order, as Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi failed to set a time but was allowed to race nonetheless.

2011 Turkish Grand Prix

If Rosberg's qualifying position came as a surprise, his move off the line on Webber for second position at the race's start was even more so. Vettel got a clean start and lead the pack, but a few positions back Hamilton ran wide as both Alonso and Button squeezed by. All the way at the back Kobayashi was already surging from dead last up three positions to 20th, while Timo Glock had to climb out of his Virgin-Cosworth in the team's garage with technical difficulties.

The fifth lap saw Webber regain second place from Rosberg with the aid of the rear-wing Drag Reduction System, as Hamilton locked in on Button's tail in a heated battle with Massa closing in. Up ahead his team-mate Alonso deployed his DRS wing to pass Rosberg as well.

With eight laps down out of 58 total, Vettel was running in the lead, his team-mate Webber drifting behind in second. Alonso followed in third just ahead of Rosberg in fourth, with Button and Hamilton following in fifth and sixth and Massa close behind in seventh. Petrov was among the first to pit from eighth, his wingman Heidfeld close behind in ninth and Barrichello in tenth. Sutil, Buemi, Di Resta, Kobayashi (now up to fourteenth), Maldonado, Alguersuari, Kovalainen, Trulli, Schumacher, Liuzzi, d'Ambrosio, Karthikeyan and Perez followed.

2011 Turkish Grand Prix2011 Turkish Grand Prix
2011 Turkish Grand Prix2011 Turkish Grand Prix

It wasn't long before the rest of the field began to make their way into pit lane to complete the first round of tire swaps. Shortly after Massa passed Hamilton, both headed in, and almost collided on the way out, but Hamilton emerged ahead of Massa – a reenactment of the battle for the title in 2008 that saw Hamilton take the prize on the last corner of the last lap of the last race of the season to finish just one point ahead.

It would take until lap 20 before that first round of pit stops was completed, after which Vettel remained in the lead ahead of Webber (2), Alonso (3), Hamilton (4), Rosberg (5), Massa (6), Button (7), Heidfeld (8), Buemi (9) and Kobayashi (now up to 10th place after starting in 23rd). Frontrunners Petrov and Schumacher, both forced to pit twice when others only stopped once, were relegated to 14th and 16th places, respectively.

By then it was about time for the second round of pit stops to commence, Webber leading the pack in for fresh rubber. Vettel managed to retain his considerable lead when his time came. By lap 28, when nearly all had completed their second stops (save a few back-marking stragglers), Webber was still in second and Alonso in third. Hamilton followed in fourth, Petrov now back up to fifth, Massa in sixth, Button seventh, Rosberg eighth, Heidfeld ninth and Schumacher tenth. With only Glock retired, Buemi, Alguersuari, Barrichello, Sutil, Kobayashi, di Resta, Perez, Kovalainen, Maldonado, Trulli, d'Ambrosio, Karthikeyan and Liuzzi rounded out the field.

2011 Turkish Grand Prix
2011 Turkish Grand Prix2011 Turkish Grand Prix

Alonso made a smooth pass on Webber for second position on lap 29, and the leapfrogging commenced again on lap 34 when Rosberg, Massa, Hamilton and Petrov made their third stops. Hamilton's visit to pit lane was extended by a jammed gun on the front-right wheel. Once the dust had settled from this round of stops, Vettel was still in an uninterrupted and unchallenged lead, Alonso holding on to second ahead of Webber while Hamilton lingered far behind in fourth. Rosberg, Button, Petrov, Heidfeld, Massa and Schumacher rounded out the top ten.

The fourth and final round of pit stops started only a few laps later, with little change to the running order. Vettel kept the lead, Alonso remained second and Webber third, with Hamilton, Rosberg, Button, Petrov, Heidfeld, Massa and Schumacher following suite.

Paul di Resta was the only retirement of the day when his Force India car failed on lap 44, joining Glock who didn't even start. Meanwhile the hotly contested battle between Webber and Alonso drew blood once again on lap 51 with only seven left to go, as the Australian driver passed his Spanish rival for second place. Further adrift former team-mates Massa and Schumacher duked it out for tenth place as Rosberg squeezed past Button for fifth.


2011 Turkish Grand Prix2011 Turkish Grand Prix

Across the line after 58 laps of domination, Vettel took an unrivaled win from pole to further cement his lead this early in the season and prove, once more, that he and Red Bull were on top to stay. Webber further entrenched the team's standing in second place, while Alonso scored Ferrari's first podium finish of the season so far.

The remaining points were awarded to Hamilton, Rosberg, Button, Heidfeld, Petrov, Buemi and Kobayashi. Massa and Schumacher finally finished outside the points, leading Sutil, Perez, Barrichello, Alguersuari, Madlonado, Trulli, Kovalainen, d'Ambrosio, Karthikeyan and Liuzzi.

2011 Turkish Grand Prix

The results drive Vettel even further into the lead, now held at 93 points to second-place Hamilton's 59 and Webber's 55. Button trails in fourth with 46, Alonso fifth with 41 as the others linger behind. Combined in the teams' standings, Red Bull leads with 148, followed by Mclaren with 105, Ferrari at 65, Renault at 42 and Mercedes at 26 as the others stay in single digits. The championship resumes in two weeks with the Spanish Grand Prix from Catalunya and the Monaco Grand Prix the week after.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      Pdexter
      • 3 Years Ago
      Imo this race alone was enough to justify the adjustable rear wing. Vettel looking like he would just cruise for the win every race this season. Though it's not a first time somebody have looked impossible to win on the first races.
      J.D
      • 3 Years Ago
      This would be the closest thing to motorsport you americans can see right? I mean, if I wanted to watch nascar, I can watch my washing machine go on spin cycle with the lid open and get the same result, your drift competion has less to do with sliding, and more to do with how many differnt color bleaches you can put through your hair as a japanese D3 reject, and sadly indycar became irelevant in the late 90's. Truth be told f1 has only been competetive in the last 3 seasons, and this race was a great example of how strategy, combined with actual race craft and overtaking creates entertainment. 73 pitstops in total. And whilst the lead may not have changed, virtually evry other position did. Also, why red bull keep giving mark a crap front splliter as opposed to seb is beyond me. Pricks.
        Martin
        • 3 Years Ago
        @J.D
        I'd like to congratulate Reagan Smith on his first race win at the Southern 500! First. Race. Win.
      Mike McDonald
      • 3 Years Ago
      Scuderia Ferrari= Epic Fail This Season
        cc
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Mike McDonald
        Every team except RedBull is an "Epic Fail This Season."
          DrEvil
          • 3 Years Ago
          @cc
          I could go on forever, but I'll just close by saying that your posT was an "Epic Fail". I guess in a way so was mine. POST not pose.
      john64
      • 3 Years Ago
      I realize that Red Bull is the dominate car. And Vettel is an amazing driver. But holy cow, it's Schumi / Ferrari all over again. And that got very boring, very fast. I don't care what car or team it is. When one racer keeps driving away from the field at the start over and over and winning by 10+ seconds, it gets old. Just my opinion. Of course I'm a Kovalainen fan. So I really don't have a dog in the hunt, anyway. haha
      Ben Chia
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm sorry AB, but that was a rubbish opening. RB's title last season wasn't a fluke. They've been contenders for the past couple of seasons now, (since 2009), and their current dominance is no surprise to anyone.
      Robb63
      • 3 Years Ago
      I was a big fan pf the DRS at first, but in this race it seems that the car in front has no defense against a pass. IMHO the wing is good, but it needs to be allowed to be deployed either later down the straight away, or only for the first half of the straight away to get the passing car a really good tow in the car to be passed then there would be more of a battle for the position. Again just my $.02, it has made the main passing zone a passing zone again so that is good.
      Tael
      • 3 Years Ago
      Don't worry, I'm sure deep down inside Mark would be somewhat relieved he didn't win the GP. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smqIA8fTz8M
      Tom
      • 3 Years Ago
      test comment
      Robb63
      • 3 Years Ago
      As amazing as Seb and the Bulls are doing, I still feel that he can't win from anywhere except pole position. He doesn't seem to have the raciness of Hamilton, or Alonso. As long as he can put the car on pole I think he will keep wining, but when the car isn't 1 sec faster than everyone else I don;t think he can fight from behind to win.