Lewis Hamilton headed McLaren team-mate Jenson Button to an unexpected 1-2 finish in the Turkish GP after Red Bull colleagues Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber contrived to throw away a similar result.
Hamilton spoke in Saturday’s post-qualifying press conference of being ready to take any opportunity that might allow him to take his first win of the season but, after losing an early second place to Vettel during the pit-stops, the Briton appeared destined for third place.
All that changed 18 laps from home, however, when Vettel (having closed on Webber) decided to chance his arm on the run into turn 12. Having got alongside the Aussie, Vettel’s car failed to fill the Red Bull-sized gap left by his team-mate and, edging right, made hard contact with its twin. Both cars headed into the copious run-off area, Vettel having spun several times, and narrowly avoided making secondary contact as Webber attempt to find his way back onto the track.
Vettel was out on the spot, clearly unhappy with what he felt was an error – a moment of madness – by his team-mate, but Webber was able to limp back into the action, eventually stopping for new tyres and front wing with the left-hand side of his car showing its battle scars.
Such was the leading quartet’s advantage over the rest of the field, the recovering Australian was able to stop and rejoin ahead of fourth-placed Michael Schumacher, the veteran no doubt having eyed his first podium since emerging from retirement, but the Red Bull was no longer a threat to the fleeing McLarens.
Incredibly, however, the two silver machines almost threatened their own chances of a second 1-2 this season. Just seven laps after seeing their main rivals disappear off-track, and having both been told to conserve fuel, Hamilton and Button continued to dispute the lead.
With rain finally appearing on their visors – having first been predicted on lap 20 – Button closed on his countryman and, approaching the same piece of track where Vettel and Webber had collided, moved to the outside. Holding his nerve, and with Hamilton sensibly holding his line, the reigning world champion managed to go the long way around into turn 12, grabbing the inside for the switchback into 13 and then closing off Hamilton’s line for the final turn.
Hamilton, however, had already decided to improve his exit from the corner and, tucking back into Button’s wake, was able to pop out well before the start of lap 48, diving to the inside into turn one. The two touched briefly, but there was no repeat of the RBR outcome and, amid further warnings about the state of their fuel consumption, Button backed away.
A little over three seconds split the two McLarens as Hamilton crossed the line to take the chequered flag and his first win of the season at a circuit where he starred in the GP2 Series. Webber crossed the line over 20secs further back, and the same trio now occupy the top three positions in the world championship, albeit in reverse order, with Webber enjoying a five-point margin over Button, with Hamilton a further four points adrift.
1. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 58 laps 1hr 28m 47.620s
2. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes +00m 02.6s
3. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault +00m 24.2s
4. Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes-Mercedes +00m 31.1s
5. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes +00m 32.2s
6. Robert Kubica Poland Renault-Renault +00m 32.8s
7. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 36.6s
8. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 46.5s
9. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes +00m 49.0s
10. Kamui Kobayashi Japan BMW Sauber-Ferrari +01m 05.6s
11. Pedro de la Rosa Spain BMW Sauber-Ferrari +01m 05.9s
12. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari +01m 07.8s
13. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Force India-Mercedes +1 lap
14. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Williams-Cosworth +1 lap
15. Vitaly Petrov Russia Renault-Renault +1 lap
16. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
17. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Williams-Cosworth +1 lap
18. Timo Glock Germany Virgin-Cosworth +3 laps
19 Lucas di Grassi Brazil Virgin-Cosworth +3 laps
20. Karun Chandhok India HRT-Cosworth +6 laps
Rtd Bruno Senna Brazil HRT-Cosworth 46 laps completed
Rtd Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 39 laps completed
Rtd Heikki Kovalainen Finland Lotus-Cosworth 33 laps completed
Rtd Jarno Trulli Italy Lotus-Cosworth 32 laps completed
Vitaly Petrov Russia Renault -Renault 1m 29.165s lap 57