ISTANBUL -- Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel cruised to victory in the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday, clinching his third win of the season ahead of teammate Mark Webber to extend his lead in the standings.
The Formula One champion was never in trouble at Istanbul Park after starting from the pole for the fourth consecutive race and winning by a comfortable 8.8 seconds.
"Throughout this race we had this cushion and were able to act, rather than react," Vettel said. "We never really had anybody close behind, which would have been a different situation."
The 23-year-old Vettel became F1's youngest champion last year and is an odds-on favorite to repeat as he already leads McLaren's Lewis Hamilton by 34 points and Webber by 38.
"I think the day you start to think you are unbeatable is the day you get beaten, for sure," Vettel said. "There is always someone, at some point, who teaches you a lesson, who gives you a hard time and beats you."
Vettel is even less likely to get carried away after four races, given that the championship went down to the final day last year.
"We saw how quickly these things changed last year, it was very close," said Vettel, who won the title on the final day of last season. "We have to go step by step, a good start to the season always helps, but there is a long way to go."
Red Bull started 1-2 on the grid and Webber passed Fernando Alonso late in an exciting race that saw a lot of bumping and overtaking early on, as well as four tire stops by the top four drivers.
"The fight with Fernando in the middle of the race was unexpected," Webber said. "It was a good fight."
Alonso was 10 seconds behind Vettel in third, giving Ferrari its first podium finish this season.
"We did a good weekend overall, the car performed better than the first three races of the championship," Alonso said. "We enjoyed racing again, we enjoyed a race fighting for the positions."
Vettel, who won the opening two races and finished second behind Hamilton in China last month, was delighted to return to the top of the podium.
"Yes! Yes! That's what I'm talking about!" the German shouted over the race radio before jumping out of his car to hug Red Bull engineers and mechanics.
Hamilton never challenged for the lead and finished fourth.
Webber has improved at every race since the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. The Australian was fifth in Melbourne, fourth in Malaysia and third in China.
"I said to myself I can't finish third [here] after starting 18th and finishing third in China," he joked.
Webber sneaked up on Alonso during lap 51, squeezing past him and then holding the Spaniard off as the two-time former F1 champion tried to pass straight back.
"Fighting with Red Bulls these days is difficult," Alonso said. "Hopefully next time we can."
The drivers started on soft tires in the warm and sunny conditions, with Hamilton fourth on the grid and Alonso fifth.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, so impressive in practice, showed great skill to overtake Webber at the start and Alonso passed Hamilton as the British driver dropped down to sixth, his McLaren teammate Jenson Button also getting past him.
Hamilton tried to get around the outside of Button but could not, and Rosberg's early pace was posing problems.
It proved a disappointing day for McLaren, with Button finishing sixth behind Rosberg, and a frustrating one in particular for Hamilton. He had high hopes after beating Vettel in China by making an extra pit stop and having fresher tires at the end.
This time, Hamilton was undone by his pit crew in his third stop.
There was a long delay putting the right front tire on -- and then a stall as Ferrari's Felipe Massa passed him in the pit lane -- and that cost the 2008 F1 champion vital seconds.
As Vettel sped away, those behind were in the familiar position of jostling for points.
Seven-time F1 champion Schumacher's front wing came unstuck and he had to pit for a new one. He finished 12th.
Later, Nick Heidfeld and Petrov got their Renaults tangled up, Schumacher narrowly avoided Adrian Sutil's Force India, and Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi Sauber touched wheels with Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi as the backdrop of mini-duels and hectic tire changes defined the early stages of the race.
Vettel said races with four stops for some drivers switching between soft tires and others stopping twice for hard tires may be more confusing than exciting.
"It doesn't make it easy for the spectators," Vettel said. "It's [too] early to judge as we've only had four races."