ISTANBUL // As he crossed the line at the Istanbul Otodrom, Jenson Button hailed his Brawn GP team as legends for building him "an absolute monster of a car". But it is his name that will be mentioned in the same breath as the legends of Formula One after victory at the Turkish Grand Prix yesterday.
It meant a sixth win in just seven races this season, a phenomenal feat by the Briton and matching the achievements of the Ferrari hero Alberto Ascari in 1952, Juan Manuel Fangio two years later, Jim Clark in 1965 and Michael Schumacher in 1994 and 2004. All of them were worthy world champions. Button will be too unless someone can find a way to stop him. That is easier said than done as he moved 26 points clear of his teammate Rubens Barrichello, who retired on lap 49 after a disappointing race.
"The car was immense," said Button, now eagerly awaiting the next race on home soil at Silverstone in two weeks. "It felt the best it had all year. It just keeps getting better. The British GP is always special even when times have been tougher. Leading the championship by 26 points is quite a nice feeling and I am looking forward to it very much." Sebastian Vettel had given himself the best possible chance of ending Button's run with pole position, but the first lap and a very costly first mistake put paid to that.
As he veered off on to the grass on the exit of the turn nine chicane, his rival pounced, easing past him to take the lead and a grip of a race he never lost and never looked like losing. It was a silky smooth drive, controlled as he ended six seconds clear of the Red Bull pair of Mark Webber and Vettel, who had to settle for third. Vettel's three-stop strategy was ruined by having to run behind Button in the second stint and this allowed Webber to leapfrog him at the end.
But while there was more joy for Button, his Barrichello suffered a disaster. Almost stalling at the start, he went from third to 12th in a matter of seconds, and it did not get any better for the Brazilian from there. After touching tyres with Heikki Kovalainen's McLaren-Mercedes, another effort to pass, this time the Force India of Adrian Sutil, was blocked and his front wing took a hefty blow. His faint title hopes suffered a similar hit with a first retirement due to gearbox issues nine laps from the end.
"It appears to be a gearbox problem," he said. "The one that I had on the start was the same as Australia, when I dumped the clutch the anti-stall came in and it was the wrong calculation for the clutch once again on my side. "With the anti-stall I couldn't get going and then, to complicate things, I was on the rev limiter halfway through the straight, which didn't make my life easier because I had to compete against cars with KERS and I had to force my way around. It's just frustrating because it has been happening too much on my side."
Jarno Trulli claimed fourth for Toyota with Nico Rosberg a place behind in fifth. There was no fourth successive victory in Turkey either for Felipe Massa, who came in sixth, while Robert Kubica held off Timo Glock for seventh. email@example.com