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Vettel sticks to Plan A and wins Turkish Grand Prix
Vettel sticks to Plan A and wins Turkish Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 May 2011   |  3:15 pm GMT  |  105 comments

Sebastian Vettel won the Turkish Grand Prix with something to spare today, leading from pole position and staying “very much in control” as he put it.

It was Vettel’s 13th career victory, his third of the season and his 6th win in the last 8 races. Mark Webber finished second and Fernando Alonso third.

Vettel finds some Turkish fans to share his joy (Red Bull)

In front of a thin, but better crowd than in recent years, it was a day on which team strategists told their drivers to move to Plan B, meaning four pit stops rather than the planned three, because tyre wear was significant due to the loads in Turn 8 and the higher temperatures.

It was another race full of overtaking moves, but the undercurrent from the drivers was a feeling of dissatisfaction that many of the overtakes were too easy, thanks to the adjustable DRS wing. Alonso’s pass on Webber and Webber’s pass on Alonso were a case in point. But there were plenty of others where the driver behind was able to sail past in the DRS zone, even with tyres of relatively similar ages, unlike China.

Many of the overtakes had multiple phases to them, with drivers passing and repassing each other in extended battles. The final sequence of corners at Istanbul contributed to this, with the follow up opportunity to pass again into the first corner.

But regardless of the impact DRS had on the action, there were some fantastic battles between Hamilton and Button, Button and Massa, Kobayashi and Schumacher, who seemed to get hit by several cars. At times it was hard to keep up with the flow of the race.

Sebastien Buemi finished seventh from 16th on the grid and Kamui Kobayashi finished 10th after staring last.

Pre-race expectations had been for three stops, but rear tyre wear in the higher temperatures on the day meant that many drivers had to switch to Plan B, which was four stops.

The start was electric with Rosberg passing Webber for second place behind Sebastian Vettel. Lewis Hamilton lost ground trying to go around the outside of Webber, dropping to sixth.

Webber sailed past Rosberg using the DRS wing on lap five, while Hamilton and Button got into a fierce scrap which lasted a few laps and in which positions changed several times. Button got the edge and Hamilton seemed to be suffering more from wear on the rear tyres. He was passed by Massa on lap 10 and both pitted at the end of the lap. McLaren turned their man around more quickly and Hamilton got back out ahead.

Alonso had a good start, gaining a place to fourth and he passed Rosberg using the DRS wing on lap seven. That put him third.

After the first stops, which came early (laps 10 and 11) Alonso was able to lap at the same pace as the Red Bulls for a while, but just before the second stops Vettel was able to pull away from Webber and Alonso at a second a lap.

Alonso’s pace in the Ferrari was the real surprise of the afternoon, able to lap at the same pace as the Red Bulls in the second stint and to actually pass Webber for second place in the third stint on lap 30. He managed to hold onto the place despite pitting after Webber for the third stop.

Rosberg tried a different tactic from the others, choosing to run the hard tyre in the second and third stints, which cost him some places, but put him on the faster tyre for the final part of the race.

Vettel used his new set of tyres in the third stint to pull away and consolidate his lead on a day when the team’s tactics were perfect as was his driving.

In the closing stages after the drivers had made their fourth stops, the real action was Webber closing on Alonso, while Hamilton on tyres that were seven laps newer than his team mate, closed in on him. They were 30 seconds behind Alonso at this stage, showing how remarkable the turnaround by Ferrari and Alonso was.

“Throughout the race we had a cushion and I was able to react rather than act. But this one is for the guys (mechanics) because I damaged the car on Friday. I’m obviously very happy,” said Vettel. “Of course the tyres are tricky to handle, we saw today different strategies with different people. At times the tyres go away from you and you have to deal with that. But we had the pace to react and we never had anyone close behind.”

TURKISH GRAND PRIX, Istanbul Park, 58 laps
1. Vettel Red Bull 1h30:17.558
2. Webber Red Bull + 8.807
3. Alonso Ferrari + 10.075
4. Hamilton McLaren + 40.232
5. Rosberg Mercedes + 47.539
6. Button McLaren + 59.431
7. Heidfeld Renault + 1:00.857
8. Petrov Renault + 1:08.168
9. Buemi Toro Rosso + 1:09.300
10. Kobayashi Sauber + 1:18.000
11. Massa Ferrari + 1:19.800
12. Schumacher Mercedes + 1:25.400
13. Sutil Force India + 1 lap
14. Perez Sauber + 1 lap
15. Barrichello Williams + 1 lap
16. Alguersuari Toro Rosso + 1 lap
17. Maldonado Williams + 1 lap
18. Trulli Lotus + 1 lap
19. Kovalainen Lotus + 2 laps
20. D’Ambrosio Virgin + 2 laps
21. Karthikeyan HRT + 3 laps
22. Liuzzi HRT + 5 laps

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Almost from the start of season 2009, I am wondering every race when will James Allen be back as a commentator for ITV to reform that great combination of “commentated by Martin Brundle and James Allen.”


Funny comments, i dont know how some people can seriously call Vettel “amazing” because hes “faster” than everybody and faster than mark by around half a second. Lets look at this seriously, Vettel is usually finishing about half a second or less in front of the others in qually, mainly Hamilton. That car as has been said many times, is over half a second faster on low fuel than the rest… so do the math.

As for being quicker than webber, Hes about 10 years or more younger than him, webber is getting on a bit, and i honestly expected him to leave before this year, Webber was never what you call a seriously amazing driver, so of course hes slower, If you put the actual amazing drivers in that red bull (Hamilton & Alonso only) theyd wipe the floor with Vettel and you know it, Everybody in F1 knows that these 2 are better drivers than Vettel, They can drive a car in any situation regardless of how bad it is. Vettel is just annoying me more and more each week by everyone pretending that hes the best in the field, its all about the car, nothing more nothing less.

I really hope Mclaren get the updates soon and give Lewis a title winning car because hell jump up and spoil the bandwagoning Vettel party,

David Hamilton

I sometimes wonder if Heidfeld has a cloak of invisibility over him. James – in your article you even credited Buemi with his seventh place!

Yet in the closing stages he passed Petrov and Buemi and took around 10s off Button in what seemed to be 3 laps. Think Button must have been very relieved that there wasn’t another lap given he was only 1.5s ahead at the finish.

Yet the BBC commentary on all this was along the lines of “Petrov must have had a problem out of sight as Heidfeld has passed him”.


I agree with those who believe DRS should be avialable at all times, except that maybe a ~10 sec/lap max usage limit like KERS usage is limited.

On a separate note, and i don’t want to sound like a Vettel basher, but why didnt RBR take the upgrades from Mark’s car and fit them to Seb’s car for FP3?


Did Mark actually have upgrades? Reading this I’m not so sure….

“Red Bull brought to Istanbul a more sophisticated version of their exhaust, which better integrates with the car’s side diffuser. But the new solution was destroyed when Sebastian Vettel slid off the track and into the barriers during Friday practice. So both Vettel and Mark Webber ran the team’s more conventional solution (seen here) during qualifying and the race.”

James are you able to confirm which Red Bull was running which parts over the weekend?


I heard Seb destroyed the new floor, but bear in mind Friday is new parts test day. Don’t know if plan was for him to use it all weekend or whether it was a test for Spain


drs artificial of course it is,but then so was turbo boost,ground effect,kers,even adrian newey! the list is endless ok maybe it was a little bit too easy yesterday but it is an evolving thing and look at the action it gave us in the last set of corners and on the main straight. last year this would have been a two stop race with no repeat no overtaking get a grip and let it settle down until we make any rash decisions.


Massa pit release that could have caused a collision then he did the rest of the pit lane in the mechanic’s area.

Not a squeak from the stewards.

Any ideas?


Yes — imagine the outcry if the position of two cars had been reversed and Hamilton had been driving in the ‘mechanics’ area’.


Not really. mclaren did it with lewis in canada right into fernandos path and no penalty or complaint from ferrari.

its a grey area. i admit i suspected he would get a penalty but when u compare it to canada it would of been very very wrong to give him one.

its also a grey area because always the guy whose pit box is first will always have an advantage as he will be released first. tough one but anyway no penalty was the only consistent thing to do.


Didn’t they’ve that 20-metre zone thing for a while last year? The teams who had an early pit-stop were just pitting on the same lap as the guy ahead and would be able to jump them with an ordinary pit-stop.


It was an unbelieveable call that. Felipe was clearly released into the path of Lewis, then proceeded to drive along in the pitbox section.

Had that been Tonio Liuzzi and Petrov, the driver released into the path would have been a definite penalty.


And it would be saved by simply having a rule that the guy into the exit of the pits (back onto the tarmac first) should haave right of way/priority.


Ironically, Ferrari is the car that improved race pace the most since the begin of the season. It was kind of concealed in Malaysia and China, but it was improved already.

Ferrari is definitively not slower than Mclaren and got pretty close to RB on race pace.

Apparently Ferrari (according to “La repubblica” paper) could not even use most of the upgrades they brought to Turkey, since they were not able to make them work properly.

The real problem ferrari may have, if eventually Alonso will be able to become title contender, is Massa not being able to take points from ferrari opponents. Which was the main reason why they could not win the driver title last year.

Michael Lynch

We used to have slip-streaming battles at places like Monza and pre-chicane Hockenheim when downforce was very low. Maybe all aerodynamic aids should be done away with and the racing would return to the type of battles we had in those days. Then there wouldn’t be a reliance on an artificial means of extra performance.


James during the race there was a graphic of Mark Webber’s car when he was battling Alonso and the graphic showed he wasn’t using KERS. Can you confirm if the Red Bull KERS was working for the whole race or not


Michael Schumacher, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong among a few greats I can think of that came out of retirement & it didn’t go too good for them second time round.

But all in all, their legacies are set in stone.


Hey! Michael Jordan won 3 more rings after coming back!!


Fantastic racing we’re seeing this year, but some comments on DRS have merit, maybe DRS is making it a bit too easy.

Perhaps a good system for next years technical regs, which could be easily implemented, would be a system which when two front wings line up it disables DRS in the trailing car.

Some technical testing would be required, but this could be easily achievable, and would solve the problem of DRS converting to a pass rather than putting the car alongside the other.

Alternatively maybe they should be looking at the zones in which DRS can be used? Maybe it shouldn’t be used on long straights, but instead on less-likely overtaking places?


I loved Brundle’s idiom that “he’ll have to move out the way for a tortoise soon!”.

Congrats on the commentary success this year BBC.


Wish we had BBC, all we get is Speed and the three bobbing heads who worship Hamilton!


I am not contemplating too much about the authenticity vs artificiality of overtaking maneuvers – the race was full of actions and I had a lot of fun. This is what I want from F1 – action on track!

One thing that is bugging me immensely though – if I am able to understand that Ferrari lost 2nd to Webber because of slower pit stops and Massa’s race was compromised by slower pit stops and pit stop mistake…. why Ferrari team does not see it? I think I have seen statistics where it was shown that Ferrari’s pit stops are extremely slow vs top guys. Why they are not doing anything about it?


During the Schumi era, their pit stops seemed to be at least as good as anything Mclaren could do. They do seem to be lacking somewhere. I guess practice, practice, practice?


Congrats to Vettel. Getting a bit boring at the front but that isn’t his fault. Should be an entertaining battle for the runner-up spot between Alonso, Hamilton and Webber.


Not liking DRS. Pushed Rosberg to the end of the line.

Lap 2: Petrov crashing on MSC was bad pushed him further down right into the narrow alley. I would never want to see Petrov’s taillights….

Lap 5: Webber pulled ahead of Nico just because of DRS. Frustrating!

Lap 15: MSC hit again, maybe drivers are thinking that some of his talent will rub off ……….


I have spent the last month in Turkey, in Ankara and Antalya. I have not seen a SINGLE advert for the race. How the organisers expect to fill the venue and drum up interest for the race without promoting it confuses me. I think the boost in crowd compared to previous years that James refers to is a russian influence. I couldn’t quite believe how many Petrov supporters there were in the crowd today. Good to see though.


Oh, and I agree about not wanting to see Vettel scamper to victory at every race, but it’s no different to when Schumacher was dominating the sport. The best driver in the fastest car should win.

Besides, he hasn’t won every race so far and there’s still time for McLaren, Ferrari and Williams 😛 to catch up.


I would like to see the DRS tweaked, but not removed. Eventually the teams will get used to the tyres and their KERS will all be working, so there’s a danger that without DRS, we might go back to very samey races.

I completely understand the statements that the overtaking was artificial in places, but ask yourself whether it was an exciting race or not. A balance can and should be found.

On a different topic, I was also feeling embarrassed for Schumacher today. When he returned, the talk was of eventual victories, maybe a title. Does anyone think he’ll get on the podium now? I don’t know what he’s getting out of the sport now. Jeez, I’m even starting to feel bad for Brawn, for having to dance around the subject of Michael’s driving.

I’m loving the racing between the McLarens.


i still think a podium is possible. he just needs to piece a weekend together.

which for some reason isnt happening at the moment, the overall pace is ok.

perhaps monaco is his chance or spa.

tho it does remind of damons last season. the talent was clearly still there but fitting the whole jigsaw together was the problem.

shame. i hated the guy in the 90s, but id love to see him get one more good result.


I agree. I disliked him when he was in his prime, but I’d love to see him on the podium again.

It shows how times have changed when the thought of him getting a podium is exciting.

His frustration is obviously showing though. Brings to mind memories of Damon Hill in his last year.


Given that the overall winner is turning out to be a foregone conclusion most of the time, I’m enjoying what the tyres, DRS and KERS are bringing to the party, even if it does mean sometimes overtaking is a bit too easy.

At least while Jensen & Lewis or Kobi and Schumi were moving around one another there was something to watch. It’s far more entertaining than seeing Vettel scamper off into the distance yet again. At least there is still some skill in making the overtake stick with banging wheels and ending the race early.

So far this season, the on-track action is kinda fun, but the end results are getting dull and predictable.


DRS should be disabled on circuits were overtaking is possible. It was almost computer game like the the way cars were going past each other in a straight line.

I am afraid I think Schumacher has two races to save his come back. If he does not show any signs of improvement with a new spec at Barcelona and then at his old favorite Monaco then I hope Ross Brawn will do the decent thing.

There are three drivers at Force India who Mercedes can get in without to much hassle. Sutil deserves a shot at one of the big teams.

The driver market is shaping to be a very busy one next year. It would be wise for Mercedes to make a move for replacement now before any potential replacement for next year get snapped up.


I happen to know (from a very good source) that Paul Di Resta will be at Mercedes next year. 100%….

I’m personally saddened that it hasnt worked out for Schumi (and I’m not a fan).

I think the best thing to do would be to step down at the end of the season, as clearly he’s not at the level he thought he’d be at.


The rookie Di Riesta has looked quicker than Sutil, I don’t think they’d go down the Sutil route. Would love to see Kimi back. Still far from convinced that Schumacher would leave mid-season though


dont see michael going yet.

but if they did sutil bad start to season(relative to team mate) for me confirmed all long he isnt all that.

he has had occasional flashes of good performances. never done much to get excited about. (his one race at monaco aside).

nice bloke tho. he has same experience as lewis but is he on the same level or anywhere near it? IMO not.

kova would make a good no.2 to rosberg. and challenge him on his day. perhaps massa??


It was quite an entertaining race if you just forgot who was in the lead. Reminiscent of all those Schumacher years where the title was decided even before the season started and we say Kimi and Montoya race.

Thankfully James you have none of the “Breathtaking race” or “Most eventful race in the history of F1” in this honest blog post


Hi James I just want to know what would have happened had Alonso not made his 4th pit stop. I reckon he was ahead by 2s at that time and would have extended his lead by another 20 odd with somewhere around 10 laps to go.

Could Alonso have managed to stay ahead of Webber by just 3 stopping or he was going to be beaten anyway? At what rate would Webber have caught him, I mean how many seconds/lap?


No. Had Alonso not stopped, Webber would have taken him anyway and left far behind than he was left behind at the end of race. Ferrari did not expect Webber to be that faster on primes


In an experimental phase, this was the first clear error in DRS zone delineation by the FIA. Presumably a big lesson learnt.

Agree that the harder tyre options need much more longevity to inject interest into the strategy.

With these two issues fine tuned then the racing should remain intriguing. It is hard to escape the impression we have one variable too many (DRS, KERS and Pirelli compounds) in action though.

karl pilkington

This is the bad side to the good side of DRS that we saw. Passing was too easy, a gimme. Something needs to be changed.


Mamma mia, what a confusing race the Turkish grand prix was. Never did imagine 4 stops for the leading bunch.

Anyway congratulations to Vettel for winning his 3rd race out of four, yes, that boy is really making us cry.

This season is turning out to resemble the 2009 season.

Congratulates to Alonso too but I still stand by my word in that he won’t win a race this year.

As for Hammy, he reminded me of Brazil 2007 & funnily the first half of the first sector at Istanbul looks a lot like the first sector of Interlagos but anyway fair play to him for salvaging 4th.

And a big shout out to Kobayshi, I really didn’t expect him to score any points for I kept seeing him in P17.

I really loved his Kamakazi move on the inside of Schumacher.

Now the Kaizer OMG!!! Schumi should spare us his fans & retire TODAY! It’s quite obvious he’s over the hill. All he’s doing now is tarnish his achievements besides lots of younger drivers need his seat.

As for the overtakes, why I think they appeared to be easy today especially that of Webber on Rosberg because the last corner before the DRS is not really a bend so drivers take it flat out = More room to get in the slip stream.

May Formula 1 2011-style reign forever


Goferet your opinion towards alonso seems wild

Alonso has performed superbly in Turkish Gp and iam sure it’s only a matter of time before ferrari turn the car’s pace into a winner.

I have never seen any driver in F1 who have the talents and skill that alonso Possess

Alonso is a Incredible driver

Alonso will win Gp’s this year soon and will challenge (Possibly) will win the championship in 2011

Iam not even from europe, however my love for the spainard so much

Best driver of this generation


It wasn’t Schumacher’s day today. He seemed surprised by the aggressive (but fair) move from Petrov.

In the old style F1, Schumacher’s move would’ve been justified as it was hard to regain track position. However, this certainly is not the case this year. It is far more strategic this year: The driver just need to keep his cool and use his tyres/DRS/KERS to outsmart his opponent. Which I like a lot 🙂


Don’t miss the Strategy Report on Tuesday for a full breakdown of how and why things happened as they did.


I’d be interested to see Webber’s lap time relative to Vettel and Alonso in the 2 or 3 laps preceding his second and especially his third pit stop. It may have been traffic but it seems like he lost 2 or 3 seconds in these stops by staying out for an extra lap or two which let Alonso get into the DRS zone.

Given Webber had a fresh set of primes for the last stint and the pace he maintained I don’t think tyre wear would have been an issue at the end. It looked like poor strategy by Red Bull gave Alonso a look in at second rather than a brilliant strategy by Ferrari.

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