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Page last updated at 13:40 GMT, Sunday, 8 May 2011 14:40 UK

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel clinches Turkish Grand Prix

Red Bull mechanics toast Sebastian Vettel at the Turkish GP

Highlights - Turkish Grand Prix

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport at Istanbul Park

Sebastian Vettel dominated the Turkish Grand Prix to seal a third win of 2011 as a fierce fight unfolded behind him.

Mark Webber passed Fernando Alonso with five laps to go to secure a Red Bull one-two but Alonso hung on to the last podium spot for improving Ferrari.

The McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button engaged in a fascinating battle but Hamilton's decision to make one more stop paid off with fourth.

Nico Rosberg relegated Button, whose tyres faded late on, to sixth.

While the battles down the field lit up the track behind him, Vettel made smooth progress, building a lead of almost six seconds before his first stop on lap 10.

Turkish Grand Prix - Top three drivers

Turkish Grand Prix - Top three drivers

The world champion made sure he was not caught out during a final flurry of stops and came in for a fresh set of hard tyres to ensure there would be no repeat of China, when he was denied victory by Hamilton with four laps to go.

This time Vettel crossed the line eight seconds clear of his team-mate Webber and just 10 seconds beyond Alonso's Ferrari.

"He is flawless at the moment," said BBC F1 analyst David Coulthard. "He is setting the standards in qualifying and how to win a grand prix."

After a difficult start to the season, Ferrari leave Turkey as Red Bull's closest rivals.

Formula 1's leading teams had arrived for the first European race intent on closing the gap on their rivals with a raft of technical updates.

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Ferrari were no exceptions and added several new components - including new front and rear wings - in an attempt to close down Red Bull and McLaren.

Alonso had spoken confidently before the race about seeing "the light at the end of the tunnel" and his faith was restored by his first podium place of the season.

The Spaniard got away cleanly to pass Hamilton off the line and was able to match the pace of his rivals throughout the race.

The proof of Ferrari's step forward came when Alonso, with the help the moveable rear wing, flew past Webber for second place before his third pit stop.

"Alonso is relentless. He just won't give up and I admire him for that," said BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle.

Sebastian Vettel
Vettel has converted three of his four poles into wins this season

"It's a comeback from Ferrari and standing on the podium will be Alonso's reward."

Alonso remains fifth in the championship, and 52 points off Vettel's lead.

"The podium is a nice surprise and we had nothing really to say. We just need to be extremely happy," said the Spaniard.

"Sebastian was 99% favourite, but this 1% that we had we lost in the first five laps.

"The seven seconds distance to Sebastian was consistent all through the race without those five seconds we lost early on maybe we could have raced in the pit stop and forced something.

"We were not able to push the Red Bull car to the limit."

Vettel's team-mate Webber agreed that his rivals stood little chance unseating the young German from his position at the front of the field.

"We couldn't do much more than that. It was difficult to beat Sebastian today," he added.

Hamilton retained second spot in the title hunt after a fourth place at Istanbul Park that the Englishman had to work hard for.

A sticky start saw Hamilton lose ground off the line to Alonso's looming Ferrari and Button, who had started sixth.

The two McLarens then staged a fascinating battle which saw the English team-mates swap positions on track several times.

"I don't remember drivers in the same team getting past each other so often without mistakes being made," commented Coulthard.

The McLaren squabble only ended when Ferrari's Felipe Massa passed Hamilton and then triggered the first round of stops.

Hamilton had earned his victory in China with a clever strategy and decisions on the pit wall paid off again in Istanbul as he chose a four-stop strategy while Button stopped three times.

A fresher set of tyres helped Hamilton zone in on his team-mate in the closing stages and Button was also overhauled by Rosberg as his older tyres began to lose their grip.

Rosberg had qualified in third in an improving Mercedes and jumped Webber at the start.

But the German did not have the pace over 58 laps on heavy fuel and, although he defended bravely, he found himself repeatedly overhauled and finished fifth.

His team-mate Michael Schumacher lost his front wing in a tangle with Vitaly Petrov's Renault on the second lap and from then on the seven-time world champion seemed to constantly find himself mired in defensive action.

Schumacher finished 12th while the Renaults of Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld, Sebastien Buemi's Toro Rosso and Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber rounded out the top 10.

A difficult weekend for Paul di Resta ended when Force India told the Scot to retire after spotting a problem with his car.



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see also
'Big joy' missing for Schumacher
08 May 11 |  Formula One
Alonso hails Ferrari's fightback
08 May 11 |  Formula One
Red Bull expect Ferrari challenge
08 May 11 |  Formula One
Button rues stops strategy error
08 May 11 |  Formula One
Turkish Grand Prix as it happened
08 May 11 |  Formula 1
Turkish GP photos
08 May 11 |  Formula One
Button on top in Turkey practice
07 May 11 |  Formula One
Dominant Vettel takes Turkey pole
08 May 11 |  Formula One
Hamilton cautious ahead of Turkey
05 May 11 |  Formula One
Turkish Grand Prix race results
08 Mar 11 |  Results


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