Just one question is being asked among Formula One fans this morning – can Lewis Hamilton get in front of Mark Webber off the dirty side of the grid and win today’s Turkish Grand Prix for McLaren?
If he manages it, the win would be his first since Singapore last year and McLaren’s third of the season, after Jenson Button took the top podium spot in Australia and China.
But it’s a pretty tall order, given Webber’s recent form and his sharp elbows off the start line.
Having Ferrari licking its wounds after a poor qualifying and Button poised in fourth place ready to take advantage of the slightest flaw in Red Bull’s reliability or strategy will certainly help McLaren’s cause.
But realistically the chances are that this will once again be the Milton Keynes-based squad’s race, especially if third-placed Sebastian Vettel can keep his nose clean and get away without losing position.
And McLaren, particularly Hamilton’s side of the garage, would also have to ruthlessly eradicate its recent habit of mistakes and poor calls that has arguably cost it plenty of championship points already this year.
Renault are looking handy with Monaco podium-winner Robert Kubica in seventh and rookie Vitaly Petrov making his first top-10 appearance in ninth spot.
It might also be a bit early to be writing Ferrari’s obituary.
Despite Fernando Alonso’s statement that the Scuderia is now the fifth-best outfit in the pitlane, and Felipe Massa’s subdued performance on a track that suits him, both have the potential to stage the kind of comeback that previously saw Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen score spectacular finishes after starting from the back.
Ah yes, Michael Schumacher. All eyes will be on him after he scored that last-lap overtake on Alonso at Monaco. The two have quite a history of needle by now, not least at Monaco, where the Spaniard once threatened to lie down in front of his rival’s car on the grid.
Will that flare up again this weekend? Or will Schumi be too busy sticking it to Rosberg, having qualified a place in front of his young Mercedes GP team-mate?
Throw in the ice-rink like properties of Turn 8 and this has all the makings of a pretty good race.
Stick with us as we live-blog the action, leave comments or find us on Twitter as @britsonpole. Hit refresh to see the latest below this line.
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Christian Horner admits to great disappointment and says he’s not going to discuss what happened until he’s had time to talk to the drivers. “They shouldn’t have been where they were… what we always ask is that the drivers give each other room. Today we handed 43 points on a plate to McLaren.”
Press conference: Webber phrases the problem as “we made contact” and says it was “not ideal” and is clearly in heavy damage limitation mode. However, like Vettel, he is clearly a very unhappy man, but he does say that a win wasn’t guaranteed for him at the point when the accident happened. “An interesting few metres on the track” are pretty much the last we hear before the BBC, in its wisdom, cuts away.
Button: “We were wheel to wheel for about five corners it was great fun.” He says the drivers and team then called it off in order to save fuel. He says second was a good result for him given a fourth-place start on the grid. “I don’t know what happened between Mark and Sebastian but it opened the door for us. The pace of the car was good, it was a fun race and good to be back at the front.” He says the team has made strides in catching Red Bull
Hamilton says: “It was really unexpected but a fair battle with him and a great result for the team.” He dedicates the win to his father Anthony who celebrates his 50th birthday tomorrow. He puts the fuel problems down to how hard the McLarens were pushing Red Bull.
Post-race: Vettel quoted after his exit from the race: “Not very happy now, obviously, after something like this happening. We were all pretty much the same condition, same pace, same speed and I though I could go faster.
“I went down the inside, tried to focus on the braking points and all of a sudden I lost the car and we touched. I am not the kind of guy who pushes all the fault onto one guy. We are a team at the end of the day and we have to respect that. ”
Whitmarsh describes his drivers’ late-race battle as “heartstopping” but says he has to let the drivers race. Pushed hard on the issue of team orders, he says drivers have to accept sometimes that they are part of a team. But he adds: “I don’t think I would have been cuddling Sebastian if that had happened.” McLaren now leading the constructors’ championship.
McLaren taking light cars into scrutineering with that fuel problem? Brilliant result – Brit one-two and Paddy Lowe up there for McLaren to take the constructors’ trophy.
Behind the McLarens for points are Webber, Schumacher, Rosberg, Kubica, Massa, Alonso, Sutil and a great result for BMW Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi in tenth. Button’s engineer on the radio: “We pushed them and they cracked. Brilliant.”
Lap 58: Final lap and it looks like an untroubled McLaren one-two. Hamilton’s first win of 2010, and his first since Singapore last year. This will leave Webber leading the drivers’ world championship with Button second and Hamilton third.
Lap 57: Chandok back in the garage. Both Hispanias and both Lotuses are out, both Virgins (equipped with bigger fuel tanks at last) are still running.
Lap 56: Petrov pictured returning to the pits. McLaren lap times are very, very fast for a team with a fuel crisis. Renault get Petrov back out with just a tyre change. A hangdog Vettel pictured working his way along the pitwall apologising to people, being slapped on the back in a fatherly way.
Lap 55: Both McLarens are said to have higher fuel consumption than expected, partly the cost of keeping up with the Red Bulls at the beginning (so much for cynicism about team orders :D) Yellow flag for Petrov. Three laps remaining.
Lap 54: McLaren fuel message being passed on to Webber. Alonso still trying to get past Petrov but doesn’t have the speed to take him on the straight. Finally takes him on Turn 2 and the fight looks to have cost Petrov his suspension.
Lap 53: Petrov still holding off Alonso who goes off the black stuff trying to get past and has to fall back.
Lap 52: Webber still running in third but he might yet make the second place on the podium. Button being told his fuel is critical and his tyres bad. Hmmm.
Lap 51: Button has pulled back from Hamilton. Senna pictured parked up in the garage.
Lap 50: McLarens still on track, luckily, with Hamilton having regained the lead. How he’s still in the race is a mystery since they really did look like they touched at one point. Sounds very much like Whitmarsh has pulled the plug and told them to stop it. Very, very light rain still falling.
Lap 49: Now Button and Hamilton are doing the precise same thing! Button is past but Hamilton is fighting back. Button is clear but Hamilton trying to get the place back. At this rate it’ll be a bloody Mercedes one-two.
Lap 48: Eddie Jordan thinks is was six of one, half a dozen of the other while Brundle thinks it was squarely Vettel’s fault.
Lap 47: Rosberg seems to be coming up on the back of Schumi, rather than Schumi coming up on the back of Webber. Vettel pictured in a scrum of cameras giving a statement.
Lap 46: A major inquisition going on at Red Bull, as you might expect. But we can’t believe Schumacher doesn’t fancy a podium, if there’s any weakness whatsoever in Webber’s car or in his temperament now he’s seen himself knocked off the lead. However it looks like that Red Bull is still just too damn fast for him.
Lap 45: Webber’s lapping back on the race pace, so should be good for a podium. Rain is extremely light.
Lap 44: And now it’s raining! Button behind Hamilton and quicker. Hamilton being told to save fuel. We’re not necessarily out of drama yet. Vettel being chased back to the Red Bull motorhome and is clearly furious.
Lap 43: Not wanting to say ‘I told you so’ but our race preview started with the sentence “Red Bull showed how its biggest battle in the Turkish Grand Prix could be with itself.” Webber now 30 seconds down on the leaders but seven seconds clear of Schumi so he may be able to salvage a podium.
Lap 42: Still having trouble believing we saw that. Let’s just hope the McLaren boys resist the temptation to hold their own festival of carbon fibre. Webber is having to pit for a new nose but has come out in front of Schumi.
Lap 41: Vettel is out at the side of the track following a bid to overtake Webber who appears to have been prepared to let him past. Hamilton now leads from Button with Webber still running in third but three seconds off the pace. It looks like Vettel tried to pass Webber who held his line, causing the young German to lose his car. Terrible consternation on the Red Bull pitwall.
Lap 40: Eh oop. Are those spots of rain on the camera lens? Oh no! The Red Bulls have hit each other! Big smash. Both still running but it’s now a McLaren one-two.
Lap 39: Brundle on the likelihood of Red Bull drivers racing each other: “You can tell that pair anything you like. They are going to do what they want right now.” Vettel is right up on the back of Webber.
Lap 38: Vettel sets a fastest lap. Alonso having a look at Petrov and it’s a measure of how the Ferrari driver is battling his car that he wasn’t past the rookie an hour ago.
Lap 37: Another hydraulic failure for Lotus, terrible shame to see them having such a mare.
Lap 36: Brundle praising the flawless driving under pressure being displayed by all the top four. Meanwhile, Kovalainen is also pictured in the garage on what looks very much like a double retirement by Lotus.
Lap 35: Hulkenberg in 17th is just being lapped. Meanwhile Trulli is parked up by the side of the track, his race looks to be over. We seem to recall that it was said by Lotus before the race that he had a high-mileage engine that was causing him problems in quali. The gap between the top four now well under three seconds.
Lap 34: Button’s closed right up and the top four are within three seconds of each other. Meanwhile Schumacher, in fifth, is 30 seconds back up the road.
Lap 33: Still no sign of rain. Might be time to stand down the wet tyres. Button flying on his first sector and Hamilton continuing to look at Vettel.
Lap 32: Hamilton is right up on the back of Vettel while Button is a little further back thanks to his poor last lap.
Lap 31: Barrichello has passed Hulkenberg with the precision of a synchronised swimming manoeuvre. Button has put in a slow lap. Down the field Senna and di Grassi are having a little duel.
Lap 30: We’re now into the second half of the race. Kubica having a look at Rosberg on the start-finish straight as the lap starts. Schumacher also looks to be putting his foot down.
Lap 29: Vettel and Webber are suddenly flying – suspicion is that they’re banking a bit of a lead in case of rain. At the track it seems to be brightening. Has all this been for nothing?
Lap 28: Ferrari are on the radio discussing the fact that Rosberg seems to be having problems with his tyres. As a result the train of cars behind him now has Alonso on the back of it. All the drivers in behind him are radioing in. Senna has gone off track in his willingness to let people past.
Lap 27: Mike Gascoyne on Twitter mentioning that the rain might bypass the circuit completely – while we’re all sitting here getting excited about rain.
Lap 26: Schumi being advised that Mercedes GP will be going onto intermediate tyres. The veteran returnee is a bit befuddled – the tyres have completely changed since he was last racing.
Lap 25: Racing seems more or less suspended while everyone waits for the rain to start. Kubica, Massa and Petrov are all up on the back of Rosberg.
Lap 24: Weather gurus are predicting about 15 mins’ worth of rain, due in about 5 mins’ time. Jenson’s engineer says: “This could be our opportunity.”
Lap 23: Cloud getting darker, wind is blowing down the straight towards Turn 1. Hamilton closing up on the back of Vettel with Button right behind him. However Red Bull can now use Vettel to control them.
Lap 22: Button in fourth nearly 20 seconds clear of Schumi in fifth with the front of the field pretty much in their own race now. But who knows what will happens if it rains.
Lap 21: Less than a second and a half between the top three cars. Rain is now expected, apparently, in about 15 mins. You heard it here first – thanks, Scott!
Lap 20: It’s all gone quiet after the pitstops and now the commentators are starting to talk about the approaching rain cloud. Impossible to say if it will affect the race, though.
Lap 19: We learn that Red Bull saw McLaren bringing Hamilton in and jumped to react, knowing they could get away first with their spot in the pitlane.
Lap 18: Button in the pits. Flawless stop. He emerges on the 62mph pit limiter as the leaders streak past him. He emerges back in fourth. However McLaren still have an extremely fast car. Hamilton being told by his race engineer to preserve his tyres. Hamilton makes a move on Vettel on Turn 12, tries to go round the outside but doesn’t make it stick. So much for preserving tyres.
Lap 17: Looks like McLaren might have had trouble getting a wheel on. That has drained the excitement from the race in one fell swoop and looks to have guaranteed a Red Bull one-two unless Button can do something with this pitstop. He is not thought to have enough time in hand.
Lap 16: Both leaders dive into the pits. This is a race of the pit crews… who will be first… Webber is away first and Hamilton appears to lose ground behind him. Meanwhile Button leads with an absolute flying lap. Hamilton emerges behind Vettel. Order is now But, Web, Vet, Ham with Button yet to pit. Amazement being expressed at McLaren’s pit strategy.
Lap 15: Vettel and Schumacher pit. Button and Rosberg therefore up to third and fourth before their pitstops. Button now flying, so his intentions are clear. Vettel out behind Rosberg and presumably praying for the slower Mercs to pit.
Lap 14: Our correspondent at the track tells us there is rain a long way in the distance. Massa and Kubica pit from 7th and 8th. Kubica retains the place – pretty much by pulling out into Massa’s path. Hamilton’s getting the hang of Turn 8 and so can challenge Webber towards the end of the lap – but this time he went a bit high on the kerbs and had to make up ground.
Lap 13: Coulthard reckons the McLarens can take the Red Bulls at the pitstops and that Webber will know this very well. Can McLaren do this without any slip-ups?
Lap 12: Alonso pits for a scheduled stop which goes smoothly. Hamilton has a look at Webber at the Turn 12 chicane and again on the start-finish straight – but no luck this time around. The McLarens are the fastest cars on the track right now.
Lap 11: Barrichello has pitted last lap. Was this his method of getting out from behind Liuzzi?
Lap 10: The four leaders are 8 seconds clear of fifth-placed Michael Schumacher. Brundle says Alonso’s car is such a handful that he can barely drive it.
Lap 9: Webber extends his lead very slightly during this lap, setting another fastest lap. Hamilton looks to be able to stay with him but not currently in a position to pass.
Lap 8: Alonso is still in his qualifying position of 12th. Barrichello reports that he is sitting behind Liuzzi watching a piece of his rear wing flap about and is concerned it will fly off and hit him. You can certainly understand why that would worry him given what happened in Hungary last year.
Lap 7: Button and Vettel are half a second faster than Schumi behind them in fifth. Hulkenberg is out of the pits and racing again, albeit somewhat down the field. Webber puts in a fastest lap and the McLarens respond with faster times of their own. Ferrari are worried after a contretemps between Massa and Renault’s Kubica, which saw their wheels interlock, has scored a lump off Massa’s car.
Lap 6: Hamilton keeping Webber’s lead under half a second. The Red Bull’s dominance in Turn 8 is confounding the McLaren for the rest of the lap.
Lap 5: Rosberg being advised on the radio to remember his F-duct and to save his tyres while he is in traffic.
Lap 4: If Hamilton can make that F-duct pay then that might be his best hope of getting the lead. But can he get close enough? Webber’s lead is barely half a second.
Lap 3: It’s all gone quiet while everyone assesses what’s happened. Order at the top is Web, Ham, Vet, But, Sch, Ros, Kub, Mas, Pet, Sut, Kob, Alo, DLR. Button pulling clear of Schumacher which shows how important it was that he got that place back. Hamilton staying with Webber.
Lap 2: Hulkenberg in the pits, Sutil still running. Alonso struggling to get past a Sauber, so far without success. Buemi in the pits with a shredded back tyre. Top eight is as you were from quali. All that pushing and shoving for nothing – however, Hamilton has closed up the gap to Webber. Good luck in getting past, however.
Lap 1: Hamilton straight across onto the clean line and sacrifices second place to Vettel. Schumi has got rid of button and Rosberg tries the same but doesn’t manage it. Hamilton grabs second place back from Vettel but Button doesn’t displace Schumi. Tries to overtake into Turn 8 but no luck. However cars starting to back up behind Schumi. Ferraris had a quiet start. Button is past Schumacher to retake fourth. Meanwhile, Webber down the road and Sutil and Hulkenberg have both had an off. Gosh, that was exciting, wasn’t it!
Parade lap: Everyone is away safely. Lucas di Grassi not on the grid and looks likely to start from the pits, if at all.
Red Bull have changed parts on both Webber’s and Vettel’s cars following quali problems yesterday. Our reporter at large Scott McCarthy, present at the race, tells us there are clouds looming up but they don’t appear to be carrying any rain on board.
Lucas di Grassi might not be starting the race for Virgin, at least not from the grid. Mechanics are working frantically to sort out an oil leak on his car. Johnny Herbert advising the stewards again this week.
Button says he expects his tyres to be strong and is confident that starting on the dirty side will not compromise McLaren’s race. Not long to go to find out now… Apparently Jense’s grid girl has fainted from the heat. And, according to Jonathan Noble on Twitter, she had to be carried away – and who should step in but John Button? Mind you, he was a right looker in his younger days. One for the ladies there…
Grid walk: Felipe Massa and Rob Smedley are holding hands on the eighth grid spot. “He never listens” – “He says the same things before every race and I know them already”. Again, a subtle expression of concern about tyre wear.
Brundle says the Mercedes GP car is 13km slower than the McLaren with the same engine in a straight line – but Schumacher is nowhere to be seen to comment on it. Instead Renault’s Robert Kubica says he’s aiming to look after his front tyres in particular and hoping for a strong race.
Adrian Newey refuses to reveal to the BBC exactly what makes his car so fast – and once again they’ve marshalled all the Red Bull mechanics to cluster round the back like a bunch of nightclub bouncers. Sorry, sir, you’re not on the list… He says the team’s priority is to give the same equipment to each driver and ensure they don’t do anything silly. Beyond that, he says, it’s simply too early to say.
Car porn moment as Brundle and Coulthard take to the grid and walk past that lovely gull-wing Merc that serves as the safety car. They report that Vettel is talking down the fact that Hamilton is in front of him by claiming he’d rather be third than on the other side of the grid.
Pre-race: Button says he’s feeling positive about the chances of defending his title. Certainly things are still pretty tight at the top of the drivers’ championship, and McLaren has clearly taken a step forward this weekend. Button says of last week’s air intake mistake that he and the team need to put it behind them, move on and bounce back. He’s a bit regretful that Webber in the drivers’ briefing wouldn’t share the secret of going flat out through Turn 8…
Jordan and Coulthard both asked for their top memories of racing against Ferrari. Both pick the same incident – Schumi running into the rear of Coulthard at a wet Spa during the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix (and the resulting extended handbags at dawn, but let’s not go there). Coulthard because of the subsequent row about his manner of letting Schumi past, Jordan because it handed his team a one-two courtesy of Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher. More on the incident here.