F1: Turkish Grand Prix liveblog

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, June 7th, 2009

 
 

It’s as wet as a haddock’s bathing suit in Britain this weekend, so bad that the Isle of Man’s iconic TT bike race has been delayed – but that’s hardly likely to bother the F1 circus on its stay in sunny Turkey.

The story of qualifying was the refusal of Red Bull, and especially Sebastian Vettel, to lie down and let their championship hopes die. As a result the Wunderkind is on pole, shunting Our Jense across to grid slot number two.

Never mind Kate’s Dirty Sister, it’ll be Brawn’s Dirty Track Problem for Button, who is going to have to think very seriously about how he stages his getaway.

Doing sterling service behind the pair of them on row two are team-mates Mark Webber and Rubens Barrichello, no doubt both harbouring a few quiet ambitions of their own.

We wouldn’t have been surprised to see a Ferrari one-two this weekend – however the best the red cars could manage is sixth and seventh, with a third-row lockout ruined by ace qualifier Jarno Trulli. But Massa and Raikkonen will be dangerous there.

A particularly significant off-track development this weekend has been Lewis Hamilton’s effective concession of the World Championship, by saying that he thinks the team should now concentrate on 2010.

So lots of potential for excitement this afternoon – let’s just hope they’ve rounded up Istanbul’s stray dog population this year. We’ll be here following every minute with our regular liveblog. Stick with us – and don’t forget to keep hitting refresh to make sure you’re looking at the latest.

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Post-race interviews – Ross Brawn says: “It was a beautiful drive from Jenson, absolutely perfect”, adds that mistake Vettel made on the first lap opened the race up and prevented a pitstop strategy battle.

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Podium: Commentators doing their best to try to spot some needle between Webber and Vettel – but not really having much luck. Haven’t they worn out that copy of the National Anthem yet?

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Post-race: Button on the radio: “What can I say, guys, what can I say? You have built me a monster of a car, an absolute legend.” Vettel on his radio sounding frustrated.

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Lap 58: And we’re into the last lap with the accustomed Brawn GP car at the front. Let the post-mortem in the Red Bull garage begin… Webber second, then Vettel, Trulli, Rosberg, Massa, Kubica and Glock all in the points. Raikkonen is, surprisingly, the first non-scoring driver. Once he would have made the effort to pass Glock.

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Lap 57: And Button books his place on the top step. Can Nakajima actually finish the race?

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Lap 56: Martin Brundle: “The next time Sebastian Vettel runs into the back of Mark Webber won’t be the first” – because that’s what happens when you put f***ing schoolboys in F1 cars…

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Lap 55: As you were, chaps.

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Lap 54: Wry commentary on a Red Bull team radio message telling Vettel to save his engine because Webber is faster. Except, he demonstrably isn’t. However, consider the dogs called off. Interesting admission from Newey and Horner that bad behaviour in dirty air is a known characteristic of the car.

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Lap 53: Button, Webber, Vettel, Trulli, Rosberg, Massa, Kubica, Glock, Raikkonen, Alonso, Heidfeld, Nakajima, Hamilton, Kovalainen, Buemi, Piquet, Sutil, Bourdais. Hang on, Piquet’s gone backwards, hasn’t he? And how did Kovalainen end up behind Hamilton?

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Lap 52: 2.8 seconds separate the two Red Bull cars. Kubica has got past Glock to double his prospective points total.

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Lap 51: All quiet on the Brackley front. Even though Vettel is sticking in personal bests behind Webber. Don’t take him out, son, you know what these Aussies are like when riled, and his cricket team lost yesterday. (Hah! Determined to get that in somewhere.)

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Lap 50: Button comfortably in front and increasing his lead. Barrichello looks extremely unhappy. Word is that Ross Brawn had got on the radio and pulled him in. Will Raikkonen in ninth make a late bid for points?

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Lap 49: Vettel pits. Where will he come out? Soft tyres go on, 5.8 sec stop. He emerges a long way down in third. Barrichello retires and is wheeled back into the garage. The first Brawn retirement of the season. No word on why yet, but remember that he was reporting seventh gear lost early in the race.

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Lap 48: Red Bull mechanics out for Red Bull

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Lap 47: It’s got to that period of the race where things are quiet but extremely suspenseful. Currently on for points are Button, Vettel, Webber, Trulli, Rosberg, Glock, Massa and Kubica. Behind them are Raikkonen, Alonso, Piquet, Heidfeld, Nakajima, Hamilton, Barrichello, Kovalainen, Buemi, Sutil and Bourdais. See, we told you Alonso would pick up places.

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Lap 46: Button leads with a comfortable margin and, if he continues to for another 13 laps, Brawn will be on a comfortable 96 points with the nearest competitor Red Bull some 40 behind. Trulli has got past Rosberg in the stops.

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Lap 45: Nakajima has lost potential points after a messed-up pitstop cost him too much time. They couldn’t reattach that blasted wheel cover. Kubica pits.

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Lap 44: Whoa – Webber’s come in as well which means great things for Button. Soft tyres, 7.1 secs. Trulli also pits. Webber emerges in third, Button in the lead. Vettel who hasn’t stopped is in second – he’s on a three-stopper and that means delaying the dreaded soft tyre and can only be good for him

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Lap 43: Massa pits and comes out tenth. Button pits and starts lap 44 there. Soft tyres going on with 15 laps left. 7.3 untroubled stop.

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Lap 41: Order is Button, Webber, Trulli, Massa, Rosberg, Nakajima, Kubica, Glock, Raikkonen, Heidfeld, Alonso, Kovalainen, Piquet, Buemi, Hamilton, Barrichello, Sutil, Bourdais. Alonso may prove to be the man who benefits from tyre strategy as he is on hard while everyone struggles on soft – but probably too far down to make much of it.

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Lap 40: Rosberg pits from fourth place for his soft tyres, said to be in earlier than was expected. Comes out behind team-mate Nakajima in seventh. One of the unsung heroes of this race is BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica who is on for his first points of the season.

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Lap 39: Button, Webber, vettel, Rosberg, Trulli, Massa, Nakajima. Barrichello pits from the back and has been forced onto the dodgy soft tyres..

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Lap 38: Hmmm. Hamilton lapped. But Jenson Button, he’s out in front.

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Lap 37; Bourdais has finally been lapped. Massa has just put in a personal best time but Raikkonen is inexplicably slower than he has. Sebastian Buemi has just outbraked and passed Hamilton which even under the current circumstances is a surprise. Apparently it was the notorious Turn 8 which we know the McLaren car can’t handle.

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Lap 36: Red Bull and Vettel do appear to have made a bit of a mess of this, since it’s now questionable whether he’s going to hold off Rosberg and Williams in the pitstops for the final podium place. Webber looks in a fairly sound place, however.

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Lap 34: Piquet trying again and again to make a move of Hamilton – looks very nervous there. Side by side swapping place until Hamilton locks a brake and Piquet finally ventures past.

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Lap 32: Button’s put a second on his lead since we last mentioned it. Now he’s not being chased he’s been able to resume his normal smooth driving style and pick up times. For what it’s worth Hamilton has just put in the fastest final sector of the Grand Prix so far.

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Lap 31: Has Webber locked up second? Both Red Bulls have a stop to make yet and the order could easily change between the drivers. Button now has a lead of nearly 16 seconds as we pass the race’s halfway mark. Vettel is told on the radio that he needs to put in the fastest possible lap times.

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Lap 30: Vettel pits – that explains the sense of things going slightly cold. Will he come out ahead of Webber? He puts on new tyres, the third he seems to have had available. He comes out behind Webber.

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Lap 29: Button and Vettel are the two fastest cars on the track. Next are the two Ferraris. Has Vettel dropped back very slightly to regroup?

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Lap 28: Vettel is contained, as close as he can possibly get behind Button, unable to overtake thanks to the aerodynamics and with his strategy going to hell in a handcart. But it’s not all bad news. Barrichello has got past both the Toro Rossos!

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Lap 27: Red Bull is faster in a straight line and happier under braking, Brawn GP is two-tenths faster. Another lap down and Vettel still hasn’t taken the opportunity. Hamilton 13th, Barrichello is dead last. Nakajima pits and Rosberg inherits fourth.

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Lap 26: Seb, you’ve got to take your chance! Let’s hope Button can keep a cool head and not be forced into making a mistake by Vettel buzzing over his gearbox like an angry wasp. Behind him is team-mate Webber then the two Williams fourth and fifth.

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Lap 25: Now Vettel has to take his luck in both hands and overtake…

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Lap 24: Vettel now stuffed up with Button’s dirty air. He’s not in the overtaking zone yet… Order at the top is Button, Vettel, Webber, Nakajima, Rosberg, Truli, Glock, and Massa. Barrichello is 19th, poor sod, and Brawn GP’s dream of three-figure glory at an end.

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Lap 23: Lead is down to not much more than a second between Button and Vettel. Edge-of-seat stuff.

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Lap 22: Button’s lead halved to about 2.5 seconds since pitstops. We hear that Fisichella had been plagued with multiple problems all weekend. Meanwhile pictures are showing a cracking battle between Hamilton and Raikkonen for 13th place. Not sure they’re both on the same side of their first stop, however.

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Lap 21: Vettel, on his lighter load, is managing to close on Button. Speculation that Button might not fight him too hard, preferring to get the lead back at the next stop.

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Lap 20: We learn that Vettel has been instructed to go and reel Jense in on his lighter fuel load. Careful now, laddie, they’re not dodgems, you know… Webber pits, putting Kubica into third.

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Lap 19: Webber pits and comes out side by side with Kubica, has to drop behind him on his colder tyres. Order is Button, Vettel, Kubica (no pit), Webber, Nakajima (no pit), Rosberg, Trulli, Kovalainen (stopping on this lap), Glock, Massa. Rosberg led briefly in the middle of all that.

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Lap 18: Button pits. A long drive right down the pitlane. Scrubbed hard tyres going on? 9.3 sec stop and he rejoins in third behind the unpitted Webber and Rosberg. Now, what can Webber do?

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Lap 17: Well into pitstops now, waiting to see how things will shake out. Trulli has pitted and rejoined in ninth. Button currently leads from Webber in advance of their stops.

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Lap 15: Alonso pits. Button’s lead over Vettel is now 5.6 seconds and the German is expected to pit a couple of laps earlier. Can his team use Webber to get Vettel in front of Button, since he was thought to be on a similar fuel load?

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Lap 14: Fisi has now officially retired. Barrichello pits for a new nose.

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Lap 13: Barrichello is in a dramatic overtaking battle with Sutil that risks to have the pair of them off the track. The Force India driver has kept his place and the frantic Barrichello has knocked the endplate off his front wing. Rubens, baby, stay cool!

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Lap 12: Rosberg is starting to look a bit threatening in fifth. The consensus is that he can expect to pass Trulli at the first stops if all goes well. Barrichello is reporting that he’s missing seventh gear, so might even be headed for retirement. Button sets another fastest lap – as Brundle points out, this is after yet another Friday when he was complaining about set-up.

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Lap 11: Barrichello passes Piquet after the Renault driver makes a slip. Now he’s hunting down Sutil. Can he preserve his second place in the drivers’ championship? Will Brawn get the necessary 14 points to clear 100?

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Lap 10: Button’s lead currently 3.3 seconds and both he and Vettel are opening up a slight gap from Mark Webber. Barrichello has taken Hamilton. Brundle: “Your favourite team-mate is always the slowest one.”

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Lap 9: Barrichello spins and that really is the end of his afternoon. He’s got back on the track but is now running 17th behind another dodgy McLaren, this one driven by Hamilton. Button is putting in fastest lap after fastest lap.

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Lap 8: Barrichello takes Kovy but the Finn swiftly has the place back possibly with the aid of his magic KERS button – quite a rare thing in the paddock just now. Maybe trashing that would sort out the blasted MP4-24’s problems? Just a thought – but how much use is it when you’re warring for 12th?

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Lap 6: Button is now two and a half seconds clear. Order from him is Vettel, Webber, Trulli, Rosberg, Massa, Alonso, Kubica, Raikkonen, Nakajima, Kovalainen, Barrichello, Glock, Heidfeld, Sutil, Piquet, Hamnilton, Buemi, Bordais and Fisi who is still parked up but hasn’t climbed out of the car yet. Red Bull thought to be reconsidering their pit strategy in the face of Seb’s early off.

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Lap 5: Button already two seconds clear. Fisichella is parked up in the pits with the commentators speculating his race is over.

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Lap 4: Lap 4: Speculation that Barrichello was tripped up by his car’s anti-stall mechanism. He can be seen in the replay shaking his steering wheel in frustration. He’s lapping three seconds behind Button in the traffic further back.

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Lap 3: Button already running a second quicker than Vettel – and is fuelled a bit heavier than the Red Bull driver. Raikkonen is shouting into his radio, saying that he has lost some front wing against one of Alonso’s rear tyres. Barrichello has a look at Kovy but can’t make it stick despite a locked brake from the Finn.

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Lap 2: Webber is past Trulli and Raikkonen is down to ninth – has he had an overtaking incident? Barrichello is still losing places with Kovalainen getting past him now. Replay shows that Jense is through because Vettel went wide.

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Lap 1: And the lights are out. Button makes a good start but not good enough. Barrichello has flown backwards, Trulli through to third ahead of Webber. Order is Vettel, Button, Webber, Trulli, then a Ferrari, a Williams and another Ferrari. Terrible start for Barrichello. Massa is the top slice of bread in the Ferrari sandwich. Whoa! Off-camera, Button takes the lead. Go, Jense!

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Parade lap: Everyone is away with no problems. Lovely undulating track at Istanbul Park, as the TV shots now bring home to us.

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Pre-race: Jonathan Legard says: “The man on pole always wins.” Will Vettel make that true for another year? Or will Button break the chain? (Ho ho.)

James Allen says on his Twitter feed: “It’s very hot, the track surface will be around 50 degrees, so the tyres will have to be managed very carefully.”

Ross Brawn fields a question about FOTA beautifully, saying common sense will prevail. But he does convey the important point that track temperatures are higher than expected. Tyre wear could be more of an issue than expected.

Vettel’s running away from the interviewers because he has an urgent appointment in the gentleman’s toilets. Massa says he is hopeful of getting for a result.

Brundle tracks down Button for a chat. He’s wearing a cooler vest that makes him look like someone’s packed lunch. He says there’s a fair bit of rubber down on the dirty side of the track following the GP2 races, which he finds encouraging. He also says that he spent some time watching the support races. Then the conversation has to be would up before DC gets his BBC contract terminated. Key point: Jense could not be more relaxed.

Brundle introduces a new BBC team member, someone he refers to as “Crazy Dave”. Can’t think who he means… Then he and DC sit themselves on the tarmac at the front of the grid. Clearly age is telling – but they mostly look like a couple of eight-year-olds who have had their go-karts nicked.

DC is claiming that F1 drivers interact with fans. Point taken, they can hear the things shouted at them, but compare the series to IRL where fans get really good access to drivers.

ITV F1 has an illuminating chat with Sir Frank Williams about his FOTA problems and their possible resolution. While the words “temporary suspension” were used elsewhere, the one he mentions is “expelled”: http://www.itv-f1.com/Feature.aspx?Type=General&id=46066&PO=46066

Whoa! Are we having a race at all? A piece in The Times this morning suggests that a FOTA boycott could be on the cards, leaving us with an Indy 2005-style event in which the only competitors are Williams and Force India. Cue various jokes about their best chance of a podium for years. The seriousness of this you can judge for yourselves here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/formula_1/article6449373.ece

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