Vettel wins European GP from pole position
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel got his championship challenge back on-track after a commanding victory in Valencia this afternoon. The German led every lap of the action-packed race from pole position to record his second win of the season and promote him to third in the championship, behind fellow podium finishes Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Team-mate Mark Webber failed to finish after a colossal crash with Heikki Kovalainen early in the race.
Vettel kept the lead from pole position at the start despite a strong challenge from Hamilton who damaged his front wing slightly after making contact with the German. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso leaped into third at the end of the first lap, while Webber dropped to ninth after a dismal opening tour. Things went from bad to worse for the Australian after pitting for a fresh set of rubber on lap 7. After rejoining Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus, he tried to overtake the Finn going into turn 12 but hit the rear of his rival and was catapulted into the air.
Thankfully he emerged unscathed from the car, but the crash brought out the safety car to muddle up the order, with almost the entire field pitting with two laps. Vettel and Hamilton retained the top two places but Alonso lost seven spots after getting caught out by the emergence of the pace car. BMW Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi opted to stay out during the safety car period and rose to third.
Any chance of a battle for the win between Vettel and Hamilton evaporated 20 laps later though when the Briton was handed a drive-through penalty for illegally overtaking the safety car. Although he kept second ahead of Kobayashi he dropped 15 seconds behind Vettel and despite closing the deficit within the final 30 laps, Vettel was always in control and took the flag with five seconds to spare.
Behind them, Jenson Button secured third for a double McLaren podium, easily clearing Williams’ Rubens Barrichello who secured his best finish of the season in fourth. Renault’s Robert Kubica was unable to get by last year’s winner and had to stay fifth, ahead of Force India’s Adrian Sutil.
After making his mandatory pitstop for the super-soft Bridgestones with just five laps to go, Kamui Kobayashi produced a mesmeric fightback to overtake Fernando Alonso and Sébastien Buemi in the final two laps, promoting him to a well-deserved seventh. Buemi hung onto eighth, ahead of Alonso and the second BMW Sauber of Pedro de la Rosa.
However, post-race stewards investigations involving no less than eight drivers could see the complexion of the top ten change significantly before the end of the day. Although Hamilton was penalised for his indiscretion during the race, Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Robert Kubica, Vitaly Petrov, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Sébastien Buemi and Pedro de la Rosa will all have to visit the stewards soon to discuss the issue. If all drivers are penalised, Button will still retain third, ahead of Kobayashi and Alonso.
Today’s result puts Vettel into third in the championship, 15 points behind leader Hamilton. Jenson Button retains second six points adrift, while Webber’s retirement drops him to fourth, 24 points behind. McLaren and Red Bull stay 1st and 2nd in the constructors’ championship.
Here are the full results;
|2||2||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||57||+5.0 secs||3||18|
|3||1||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||57||+12.6 secs||7||15|
|4||9||Rubens Barrichello||Williams-Cosworth||57||+25.6 secs||9||12|
|5||11||Robert Kubica||Renault||57||+27.1 secs||6||10|
|6||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||57||+30.1 secs||13||8|
|7||23||Kamui Kobayashi||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||57||+30.9 secs||18||6|
|8||8||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||57||+32.8 secs||4||4|
|9||16||Sebastien Buemi||STR-Ferrari||57||+36.2 secs||11||2|
|10||4||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||57||+44.3 secs||12||1|
|11||7||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||57||+46.6 secs||5|
|12||22||Pedro de la Rosa||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||57||+47.4 secs||16|
|13||17||Jaime Alguersuari||STR-Ferrari||57||+48.2 secs||17|
|14||12||Vitaly Petrov||Renault||57||+48.2 secs||10|
|15||3||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||57||+48.8 secs||15|
|16||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||57||+50.8 secs||14|
|17||25||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin-Cosworth||56||+1 Lap||21|
|18||20||Karun Chandhok||HRT-Cosworth||55||+2 Laps||23|
|19||24||Timo Glock||Virgin-Cosworth||55||+2 Laps||22|
|20||21||Bruno Senna||HRT-Cosworth||55||+2 Laps||24|
|21||18||Jarno Trulli||Lotus-Cosworth||53||+4 Laps||19|
|Ret||19||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus-Cosworth||8||Accident damage||20|