Vettel victorious in Valencia

Posted on Jun 28, 2010 by
Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton celebrate on the podium in Valencia

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton celebrate on the podium in Valencia

Sebastian Vettel pipped Lewis Hamilton to win a controversy-packed European Formula Grand Prix.

The German driver led from pole position in Valencia and a race widely expected to be one of the least exciting of the year proved otherwise. Crashes, penalties, overtaking and plenty of complaining made from an entertaining afternoon.

Vettel’s victory was comfortable in the end, while his teammate Mark Webber had a weekend to forget. The Australian had a dreadful start, moving from second on the grid to ninth at the end of the first lap.

Webber’s race ended in spectacular fashion on lap 10 when, after an early pit stop, he tried to overtake the much-slower Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen. But Webber smashed into the back from the Finn’s car and the Red Bull was launched upside down into the air, smashing into an advertising hoarding and crashing back to the ground upside down, before sliding into the tyre barriers. Remarkably, Webber was unhurt.

Vettel leads Hamilton into the first corner as the race gets underway

Vettel leads Hamilton into the first corner as the race gets underway

The safety car was called out while the debris was cleared and most drivers used the opportunity to pit for their mandatory tyre change. As the safety car emerged onto the track, Hamilton in second momentarily lifted off the accelerator before continuing past the pit lane exit as he chased down Vettel. However, the brief lift meant that he didn’t pass the safety car until after it had crossed the relevant line on the track, which would lead to a drive-through penalty for the McLaren driver later in the race.

The incident meant that Vettel and Hamilton were able to race around the track and pit, emerging in first and second, while the of Fernando Alonso in third was stuck behind the safety car for a lap. Alonso would emerge from his pit stop in 10th, and complained on the radio to the stewards about Hamilton’s infringement.

The Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi, which had not pitted, was in third place when the race restarted, and served to hold up the rest of the field on the narrow Valencia street circuit. This allowed Hamilton to open up a sizable gap as he chased Vettel and, when he finally served his drive-through penalty, he was able to get out before the Japanese driver and maintain second place, much to Alonso and Ferrari’s disgust.

Alonso's Ferrari finished down the field, and the Spaniard wasn't happy about it

Alonso's Ferrari finished down the field, and the Spaniard wasn't happy about it

Kobayashi finally pitted near the end of the race, handing third place to Hamilton’s team mate Jenson Button. Williams’ Rubens Barrichello was fourth, with Robert Kubica fifth for Renault and the Force India of Adrian Sutil in sixth. Kobayashi was seventh after overtaking Alonso and the Toro Rosso of Sebastian Buemi on the last lap, thanks to his fresh tyres.

There was further controversy after the race, when nine cars were investigated for lapping too quickly during the safety car period. Five second penalties were given to Button, Barrichello, Nico Hulkenberg, Kubica, Vitaly Petrov, Sutil, Buemi, Pedro de la Rosa and Vitantonio Liuzzi. This moved Alonso from ninth to eight ahead of Buemi and Rosberg to 10th in front of de la Rosa.

The result of the European Grand Prix means that Lewis Hamilton now leads the overall drivers’ championship with 127 points, with Button second on 121 and Vettel third on 115. Webber drops to fourth on 103 after his crash, with Alonso in fifth on 98. In the constructors’ standings, McLaren leads on 248 points, with Red Bull in second with 218 and Ferrari in third on 165.

The next race is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday, July 11.

The action took place on the streets of Valencia in Spain

The action took place on the streets of Valencia in Spain

Results

1  Sebastian Vettel//Red Bull-Renault
2  Lewis Hamilton//McLaren-Mercedes
3  Jenson Button//McLaren-Mercedes
4  Rubens Barrichello//Williams-Cosworth
5  Robert Kubica//Renault
6  Adrian Sutil//Force India-Mercedes
7  Kamui Kobayashi//Sauber-Ferrari
8  Fernando Alonso//Ferrari
9  Sebastian Buemi//Toro Rosso-Ferrari
10  Nico Rosberg//Mercedes
11  Felipe Massa//Ferrari
12  Pedro de la Rosa//Sauber-Ferrari
13  Jaime Alguersuari//Toro Rosso-Ferrari
14  Vitaly Petrov//Renault
15  Michael Schumacher//Mercedes
16  Vitantonio Liuzzi//Force India-Mercedes
17  Lucas di Grassi/Virgin-Cosworth
18  Karun Chandhok/HRT-Cosworth
19  Timo Glock/Virgin-Cosworth
20  Bruno Senna/HRT-Cosworth
21  Jarno Trulli/Lotus-Cosworth

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