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Turkish Grand Prix 2010: Race Report

Lewis Hamilton finally got his first race win of 2010 in Turkey today, and McLaren's first ever win at the Istanbul Park circuit. Jenson Button completed a one-two finish for the team.

The two Brits inherited their positions after the Red Bull duo collided when Sebastian Vettel attempted to steal the race lead from his teammate Mark Webber.

Webber was able to recover to finish third, but Sebastian Vettel failed to finish the race.

Michael Schumacher finished fourth, his best result since his return, again beating teammate Nico Rosberg, who was fifth.

Robert Kubica was sixth ahead of the two Ferraris. Felipe Massa was ahead of Fernando Alonso in a largely anonymous race for the team, who were participating in their 800th grand prix.

Adrian Sutil and Kamui Kobayashi claimed the final two points-paying positions, finishing ninth and tenth.

Vettel got past Hamilton off the Line, and Michael Schumacher also got a great start, taking fourth place from Button. It was a brave pass around the outside of Turn 1 from the German, who was again showing his improving race-craft. Lewis Hamilton fought back against Vettel to regain second place in the opening corners.

Button used his extra great line speed to get Schumacher before the end of the first lap, a crucial move in the world champion's race. By the end of the following Lap Button was 1.6 seconds ahead of the silver arrow, underlining the importance of that overtaking manoeuvre.

Hamilton was challenging Mark Webber for the lead of the race, with Turn 12 the most likely overtaking spot for the Brit. Try as he might though, Hamilton was unable to take the lead from Webber, but continued to hassle him. The top four drivers were all setting very similar lap times, while Michael Schumacher, who was still in fifth, was over ten seconds behind Button by Lap 12.

In this early part of the race, it was clear that Lewis Hamilton had the faster car, and if he could just get past Webber, he would speed off into the distance. He was challenging every lap in Turn 12, but could never get quite close enough to make any move stick.

The two Ferraris were the first to pit. Massa was still eighth and Alonso still twelfth, unable to improve on their starting positions.

At the end of Lap 14 Sebastian Vettel made his pit stop from third, and Michael Schumacher followed his fellow German into the pits. Button responded to Vettel's stop by setting a new fastest lap.

Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton came in a lap after Vettel, but a problem on the left-rear wheel for Hamilton meant that the Brit actually came out behind Vettel, putting the Red Bulls together on the track, behind temporary race leader Jenson Button.

It was puzzling as to why Hamilton didn't wait until the lap after Webber before making his pit stop. He clearly had the faster car, and with an extra lap in clear air, Hamilton should have been able to pull out enough of an advantage to take the lead. It turns out that it was actually Red Bull reacting to McLaren mechanics coming out of the garage and calling Webber into the pits so the Aussie could maintain his lead.

Button pitted on the next lap and emerged in fourth place, just behind his teammate.

As the teams completed what they thought were going to be their only pit stops, a dark cloud appeared over Istanbul Park. 'Rain' was one word that hadn't been uttered in the build-up to this race, but Lotus Racing's chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne then put out the following tweet: “Rain now definite and heavy for 15 mins, expected at 15:45”.

Meanwhile the top four, now in the order of Webber, Vettel, Hamilton, Button, were still lapping with near-identical times. At Lap 24, still short of half distance, Michael Schumacher in fifth was 22 seconds behind Button. Rosberg was slower than Schumacher, and was creating a bit of a bottle-neck. Robert Kubica, Felipe Massa, Vitaly Petrov and Fernando Alonso were all being held up by the Mercedes driver.

This was very much a four horse race, but there was the promising spectacle of rain ready to spice things up. However, the time predicted by Gascoyne came and went, but there was still no sign of any precipitation.

Meanwhile, towards the back of the field, a double hydraulic failure had put an end to Lotus' weekend in Turkey. Jarno Trulli pulled over at the side of the track, while Heikki Kovalainen retired in the garage.

Then on Lap 40, the key moment of the race. Sebastian Vettel tried to make a pass on Mark Webber, and the two Red Bull drivers collided. Vettel parked up on the side of the track, and had to walk sheepishly back to the pits. It looked as though the German pulled in front of Webber too early, and swung right into the side of the leader.

Lewis Hamilton now led the Turkish Grand Prix, with teammate Jenson Button 1.5 seconds behind him. Mark Webber, despite coming into the pits for a new front wing, kept third place from Michael Schumacher, over whom he had a margin of nearly thirty seconds before the unscheduled stop.

There was still no sign of significant rain and, apart from the odd drop of water the lenses of the TV cameras, nothing emerged before the end of the race.

Then, at the end of Lap 48, just when you thougth McLaren would have told their drivers to hold position, Jenson Button got past Lewis Hamilton around turns 12,13 and 14.

But then, over the start/finish line, Lewis came back at his teammate, pushing him wide into Turn 1 and reclaiming the lead of the grand prix. It was proper wheel-to-wheel racing, with the two drivers touching at one point.

Martin Whitmarsh and co. on the McLaren pit wall would have had their hearts in their mouths and it seemed that the two drivers had been told to stop racing after that incident. Button backed off as if he was happy to settle for second place.

Jaime Alguersuari was the only driver to make a second stop for another fresh set of tyres, and promptly came out of the pits to set a fastest lap in the Toro Rosso.

Vitaly Petrov was going well in eighth place, looking good for some points, but in a duel with Fernando Alonso, the Russian picked up a puncture after the Renault and Ferrari touched. After a slow lap back to the pits, Petrov's hopes of points evaporated. However, on the final lap of the race, he did set the fastest lap, which will act as some kind of consolation.

McLaren did seem concerned about the fuel levels of both their cars towards the end of the race, but both drivers made it to the chequered flag. Lewis Hamilton crossed the finish line ahead of his teammate while Webber, who was looking good for a third consecutive race win, had to settle for the third step of the podium.