Sebastian Vettel put his Red Bull Renault on the pole for Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix, then proceeded to spank the competition once the red lights went out. In any other season, that would have made for a pretty boring race, but this is 2011: in case you’re not watching it, F1 now has passing, wheel to wheel racing and enough contact to remind you of a Saturday night figure eight race at the county fair. In Istanbul, there were epic duels between McLaren Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and his teammate Jenson Button, and also among Renault teammates Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov. The Michael Schumacher of old appeared to be back, and Schumi’s battle with Petrov cost him a pit stop for a new nose.
In the end, no one could match Vettel’s pace. On the podium, it was Vettel, followed by his teammate Mark Webber, followed by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Hamilton had to settle for a fourth place finish, followed by Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg with a respectable fifth place finish. Officially, this was the final Turkish Grand Prix, although Bernie Eccelstone did mumble something almost coherent about trying to bring the race back for 2012. Let’s hope he succeeds, because the Istanbul circuit is among the most entertaining on the F1 schedule.