ISTANBUL, June 8 – Briton Jenson Button extended his lead at the head of the drivers' world championship to more than 20 points on Sunday when he cruised to an unexpectedly comfortable victory in the Turkish Grand Prix.
The 29-year-old Englishman, once again revelling in the excellence of his Brawn GP car, clinched his sixth win in seven races this season with a virtually flawless demonstration of smooth and well-judged racing.
He won the race in a time of one hour, 26 minutes and 24.848 seconds, finishing six seconds ahead of second-placed Australian Mark Webber.
Gifted the lead on the opening lap, when pole-sitting German Sebastian Vettel made a mistake and ran off while leading, Button took control and measured his drive to perfection to record the seventh win of his reborn career.
It was also the first time in five Turkish Grands Prix that the driver who started on pole failed to win the race.
Vettel recovered from his impetuous early error and, after a switch of strategy, battled to come home third on the rear wheels of his Red bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber who came home second, 20 seconds behind Button.
Vettel, frustrated, was third ahead of Italian Jarno Trulli in a Toyota, German Nico Rosberg for Williams and Brazilian Felipe Massa who was sixth for Ferrari.
Pole Robert Kubica confirmed BMW Sauber’s revival after a disappointing start to the season, by finishing seventh ahead of German Timo Glock in the second Toyota.
Button’s win was his fourth in succession and lifted him to 61 points in the drivers championship, 26 more than his nearest challenger and Brawn team-mate Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, who made a bad start and was later forced to retire from the race in what was a season first for the team.
Defending drivers’ champion Briton Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Mercedes started from 16th and battled through to finish 13th.
Brawn now lead the constructors’ championship with 96 points ahead of Red Bull on 56.5 points.
The next race is Button’s and Brawn’s home British Grand Prix at Silverstone on June 21.
"Thank you, thank you all," said a delighted Button to his team on their radio communication. "You have given me a monster of a car! You are all legends."
Webber also showed delight in a broad grin and a wave from the podium as he celebrated, but Vettel struggled to cope with his disappointment, failing to speak to his team or wave with any sincerity from the victors’ rostrum.
On a scorching, hot day, with the track temperature on 49 degrees Celsius and the air temperature rising past 32 degrees, Vettel made a clean start from pole position with Button chasing him into the first corner.
Barrichello, third, appeared to be stuck and made a very slow getaway as the field ran around him and relegated him immediately to 13th.
But Vettel, his impetuous youth taking over, overran turn nine in his Red Bull and ran over across the grass, leaving the door open for Button, who accepted the invitation without any hesitation.
Webber regained a place on the opening lap to run third behind his Red Bull partner as Button eased clear at the front.
Replays proved Barrichello had actually stalled his car on the grid – an error that was not as costly as Vettel’s may have been for the Red Bull team as they battled to devise a strategy to lift him back into the contest.
Hamilton was meanwhile finding it difficult to work his way forward and the luckless Italian Giancarlo Fisichella was forced to retire with braking problems in his Red Bull.
After a scrap with Kovalainen, Barrichello spun and recovered to run 17th.
Furious with himself, he roared back to pass Hamilton but, trying to passForce India’s German Adrian Sutil, Barrichello lost part of his front wing end plate and was forced to pit after 12 laps.
By then, Button led by 5.6 seconds ahead of Vettel and Webber with Trulli fourth, Rosberg fifth and Massa sixth.
One lap later, Vettel came in for his first pit stop and fell to sixth – but surprisingly continued to run on hard tyres – while Button continued his Sunday afternoon cruise untroubled.
Trulli also pitted, but missed his spot initially.
After 16 laps, Button came in and emerged third on the track, and ahead of Vettel, allowing Webber to take over as race leader briefly ahead of Rosberg, but when they both pitted along with Massa, Button was back on top, 3.7 seconds clear.
Button’s team had adjusted strategy in fuelling him heavily to run a long middle stint and only a short one at the end on the softer tyres while Red Bull, had filled Vettel for a sprint after the Englishman and a three-stop strategy.
By lap 22, it was clear that Vettel was in a faster car – and lighter – as he cut into Button’s lead and reduced it to 1.5 seconds in a bid to make up for his first lap error.
By lap 33, Button led Webber by 17.9 seconds and Vettel by 8.6. Four laps later, he lapped Hamilton for the third race in succession.
Button made his second stop after 43 laps having clocked another fastest lap for emphasis and emerged still ahead, thanks to Webber pitting and giving second to Vettel, who had another stop remaining.