Turkish GP review: Red Bull back on top

Sebastian Vettel led home Red Bull’s first one-two of the 2011 F1 season in Istanbul this afternoon, as the reigning champion dominated another action-packed race.

Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso finally got around to launching his championship challenge, scrambling on to the final step on the podium from fifth on the grid as his souped-up Ferrari out-paced McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, who finished fourth and sixth. Nico Rosberg had a disappointing afternoon, finishing fifth after qualifying third; the Renaults of Heidfeld and Petrov came in seventh and eighth, while tenacious drives from Sebastien Buemi and Kamui Kobayashi saw them round out the top ten.

Still, despite all the jostling for position on the track, the pit lane at the Istanbul Park circuit was the scene of just as much action. There were a staggering 73 pit-stops during the race – an average of three and a half stops for each of the 26 finishers and the most since 1993’s British Grand Prix at Donington Park. So, while Formula One is definitely exciting again, the question is, with tyres more important than ever, are we right to be excited?

Pirelli were asked to deliver a product that’d make races more exciting, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. On one hand, then, their new fast-degrading PZero tyre – made from a mixture of natural rubber and other quick-wearing ingredients (presumably left-over battenberg) – is the greatest thing that’s happened to the sport in years. The late race overtaking that saw Hamilton snatch victory from Vettel in China recalls the glory days of Prost and Senna, where nothing was certain until the chequered flag had been waved, the champagne quaffed and everyone had packed up and gone home.

On the other hand though, it could be argued that this new action on our screens is a fraud. Have races been engineered to up viewing figures and appease advertisers rather provide a fair and fitting challenge for the world’s best drivers? While we certainly enjoy seeing them go toe-to-toe on a regular basis, the reduced durability of Pirelli’s new, softer prime tyre means it’s virtually impossible for them to defend a position if challenged by someone on fresher boots. With lap times creeping up by around a second after just a few laps’ wear, it means that not only has pit-stop strategy become more important than ever, but that very rarely will on-track tussles accurately reflect a driver’s true skill, especially in the latter stages of a race.

So what do you lot think? Would you rather see more durable tyres reintroduced or are you just happy to finally get some wheel-to-wheel action with your Sunday lunch? While you’re chewing it over, here’s the full classification for today’s race:

1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Mark Webber
3. Fernando Alonso
4. Lewis Hamilton
5. Nico Rosberg
6. Jenson Button
7. Nick Heidifeld
8. Vitaly Petrov
9. Sebastian Buemi
10 .Kamui Kobayashi
11. Felipe Massa
12. Michael Schumacher
13. Adrian Sutil
14. Sergio Perez
15. Rubens Barrichello
16. Jamie Alguersuari
17. Pastor Maldonado
18. Jarno Trulli
19. Heikki Kovalainen
20. Jerome d’Ambrosio
21. Narain Karthikeyan
22. Vitantonio Liuzzi
23. Paul Di Resta (DNF)
24. Timo Glock (DNS)

And if you missed the race, here’s BBC Sport’s handy “the whole thing in 90 seconds” video…

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