Well, that was one hell of a race for one reason: the Red Bull duel that left Vettel out of the race, Webber relegated to third and Hamilton leading home a McLaren 1-2 finish.
Betting-wise, my Button tip at 2.7 came off, but it was pure luck on my part (not that I’m complaining). I misjudged how serious the dirty side of the track is in Turkey, with Vettel passing Hamilton initially and Schumacher passing Button. Something to try and remember for next year.
Before I come to the important part of the race and its implications, a word on the also-rans. It seems to me that Mercedes is now a step ahead of Ferrari, who are not doing anywhere near as well as they should be. In addition, Renault are doing very well indeed.
Also worth mentioning that nobody saw rain coming, and whilst there were a few (inconsequential) spots, it does show that unpredictable events live up to their name.
On lap 41, Webber was leading Vettel, Hamilton and Button. The top 4 were miles clear of 5th-placed Schumacher. Vettel had been gaining on his team mate for several laps, and tried overtaking. I think the move itself was sound, until he was slightly ahead and seemed to suddenly turn right. Webber was, I think, moving gradually in Vettel’s direction, but the German moved suddenly. They collided, Vettel’s race was over and Webber’s car was damaged, necessitating a pit stop that let the McLarens through and put Webber back to 3rd.
In my view, Vettel deserves most of the blame, but Webber was very, very close to him and could have perhaps been a little further off. Still, Vettel’s fault.
In addition, Vettel was quicker than Webber during the race, and (but for reliability failure) would have probably gotten the pole. Given Webber’s had three poles in a row and two victories from the last three races it’s worth remembering Vettel is very quick indeed.
Later we saw the Englishmen show Johnny Foreigner just how to do serious racing. Having been told to conserve fuel, Button decided the best way to do this was to reach the finishing line as quickly as possible. He surprised Hamilton with an excellent pass, but to his great credit the 2008 champion very quickly took top spot back. From then on it was formation flying.
So, Turkey marks the first weekend I got both qualifying and race day right (admittedly due to a huge slice of luck). Hurrah!
Even more importantly, it marks McLaren really getting parity with Red Bull. Ferrari are a bit rubbish and Mercedes are far back, but the Red Bulls and McLarens are in a real tussle for supremacy.
Before I have a go at guessing how the season will pan out, here are the stats on the two title races:
Red Bull 171
Worth recalling that the excellent new scoring system gives 25, 18, 15 for the three podium spots, and gives points all the way down to 10th.
Last season we saw just how much development McLaren can achieve over the course of a season. They went from having a dog of a car to a race-winning machine, with Hamilton being the top points scorer in the latter half of the 2009 season. Given the drivers and the state of the teams now, I can only see Red Bull or McLaren, at this stage, picking up titles.
Hamilton is much shorter than Button (3.85 to 9.8). He shouldn’t be. Here’s my thinking: in raw pace terms, Hamilton has a serious challenge from the Red Bull, but when tactics and brain power is required, Button has beaten him both times (the tyre calls which gave Button a pair of victories). If you haven’t backed Button yet, 9 or over are good odds. Hamilton is perhaps a shade short, certainly not value in my book. I wonder if this is a hangover from the pre-season consensus (which I bought into) that Hamilton would just destroy Button.
Webber is 3.65. Not short enough for me to lay him, as yet, but if you backed him at 10 (or thereabouts) as suggested a few races ago you could consider laying him. Vettel’s at 4. I’d back him now, except that the next race, Canada, looks like it might be a McLaren playground. If that is the case, it’d be best to wait until after Canada and then backing Vettel (depending on the state of play, obviously).
I think Button stands a real chance of retaining his title, though it’s by no means certain. I also think the Constructors’ is too close to call (presently Red Bull are favourite, with McLaren 2.5).
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the race and didn’t keel over with the shock of being green for both qualifying and race day. The race in Canada takes place in a fortnight.