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Europe analysis - Vettel back on the title trail

28 Jun 2010
Europe analysis - Vettel back on the title trail
Formula 1? - The Official F1? Website

Given Red Bull’s pace this season, it’s hard to believe that Sebastian Vettel’s European Grand Prix victory was only his second win of the season. Lewis Hamilton may have extended his championship lead with second place, but Vettel now has him - and McLaren team mate Jenson Button - firmly back in his sights. It was not such a great afternoon for two other title contenders, with Mark Webber’s dramatic crash and Fernando Alonso losing out under the safety car, leaving the Spaniard and Ferrari infuriated. We take a team-by-team look back at Sunday’s events in Valencia…

(Note: Button, Barrichello, Kubica, Sutil, Buemi, de la Rosa, Petrov, Liuzzi and Hulkenberg were all given post-race five-second time penalties for their speed on their pit stop in-laps behind the safety car, while Glock got a 20-second post-race penalty for ignoring the blue flags.)

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1
Mark Webber, Retired lap 9, accident with Kovalainen
Vettel’s only moments of concern came at the start, when Hamilton nudged him with his front left tyre after putting his nose inside the Red Bull before sliding over the inner kerb, and later when he locked up going into the last turn as the safety car was pulling into the pits at the end of the 14th lap. Otherwise he had an easy afternoon. Webber had a terrible time, getting hung out to dry in the opening lap traffic and dropping from second to ninth, then falling to 19th after a stop on lap seven to get rid of his option tyres. On lap nine he misjudged how early Kovalainen needed to brake in the Lotus and did a 180 degree backflip before spearing into the tyre wall at Turn 17. Thankfully both drivers were unharmed.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P2
Jenson Button, P3
Hamilton so nearly got Vettel at the start, but slightly damaged his own front wing which was changed during his pit stop under the safety car on lap 10. He was later adjudged to have overtaken the safety car as it was deployed and exited the pits on lap nine, and had to serve a drive-through penalty on lap 27. He was lucky that Kobayashi in third was holding faster rivals back, but his move with the safety car infuriated Alonso and Ferrari. Button had an uneventful race, lucked into the timing of the safety car to jump from seventh to fourth, which became third when non-stopping Kobayashi finally switched to the option tyres on lap 53. Button set the fastest lap.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, P4
Nico Hulkenberg, Retired lap 50, fire
Barrichello thoroughly enjoyed his race and said that he had great fun out there on his way to an excellent fourth place. Hulkenberg lost out when they both had to pit at the same time under the safety car, but was nonetheless running 10th when the right rear tyre started to delaminate as something started a fire at the back of his FW30 on the 50th lap. He deserved better.

Renault
Robert Kubica, P5
Vitaly Petrov, P14
Kubica loved his opening lap fight with Button and Webber and was lucky to get the safety car message at a point when he could get quickly into the pits. But despite being the first car in he was the third out, and that compromised his race thereafter. He was sure a podium finish had been a real possibility. Petrov was disappointed to finish 12th (which became 14th after his five-second penalty), but he’d made a bad start with too much wheelspin and later found himself outgunned on the straights by De la Rosa.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P6
Tonio Liuzzi, P16
Sutil drove a storming race, which included an excellent pass on Buemi in which they actually interlocked wheels but got away with it. He was able to leapfrog into the top 10 and stay there, but Liuzzi, who stopped at the same time under the safety car, lost time stacked, waiting for Sutil’s tyre change to be completed, and then lost further time as Petrov blocked his exit. From sitting right on his team mate’s tail right from the start in 12th and 13th places, he dropped six places which, in Valencia, there is little chance of making up.

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, P7
Pedro de la Rosa, P12
Starting Kobayashi on the prime Bridgestone was a masterstroke that enabled the Japanese driver to jump from 18th on the opening lap to third once the under-safety car pit stops had all been made. And he stayed there, under no great pressure from Button, until the 53rd lap. His pit stop then for options dropped him to ninth, but on fresh rubber he pulled a blinding pass on Alonso and then got Buemi on the final corner to capture seventh. A great run. De la Rosa looked as if he’d scored a point for 10th, but dropped to 12th once his time penalty was applied. That was bitterly disappointing for the Spaniard.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P8
Felipe Massa, P11
Ferrari looked to be in great shape when Alonso and Massa were running in third and fourth places just prior to Webber’s accident. But where Hamilton, whom they were chasing, passed the medical car as it excited the pits, they were obliged to stay behind it and were thus a lot longer arriving at their pits. Alonso got serviced first, which meant that Massa was stacked like Liuzzi and Hulkenberg had been. The Spaniard dropped to 10th, the totally frustrated Brazilian to 17th. Doomed hardly began to describe it, and Alonso had angry words about Hamilton, rules and the FIA afterwards. When he looked at his English rival’s second place and his own eighth, an extra point as he moved up because of the various penalties levied on other drivers was little consolation.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P9
Jaime Alguersuari, P13
Buemi was unhappy at the end because he believed he could have been sixth, but said he made two mistakes which proved costly. He was locking his worn front tyres too much at the end and was unable to resist Kobayashi on his fresh option tyres. Of his post-race safety car penalty, he said what everyone else did: it was very hard to slow down enough because the safety car arrived late as they approached the start/finish line. Alguersuari, by contrast, said he wasn’t disappointed, but that he hadn’t been in 100 per ent control of the car all weekend and that he’d struggled to get a decent feeling in the brakes.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, P10
Michael Schumacher, P15
Mercedes had a largely fruitless race - until the series of five-second penalties was levied after the race. That moved Rosberg up from 12th to 10th and at least earned a point. Rosberg had pitted early on lap eight for medium tyres, while Schumacher made his stop under the safety car but got held up by a red light on the exit. Both lost out big time. Mercedes, like Ferrari, were very unhappy with the FIA afterwards, and want clarification of the red light procedure, believing that the light cost Schumacher his chance of a high placing. He had pace, setting fastest laps in the closing stages while running on the super soft option tyres.

Virgin
Lucas di Grassi, P17
Timo Glock, P19
Virgin started both drivers on the prime tyres and switched both to the options in their first stops. Di Grassi led the newcomers pretty much throughout after Kovalainen’s demise, but Glock needed a pit stop to replace a flat-spotted tyre and took another set of options, so good had the VR-01 felt on them. He caught his rivals hand over fist at the end and jumped Chandhok’s HRT on lap 55, but had it taken away again afterwards when a 20-second penalty was applied for ignoring the blue flags when he hit Senna’s nose as they were being lapped by Kobayashi and Button.

HRT
Karun Chandhok, P18
Bruno Senna, P20
Senna damaged his nose when Glock hit him as they were running under blue flags while being lapped by Kobayashi and Button, and needed to stop for a replacement. Chandhok also damaged his nose, and was later unable to resist Glock, but got 18th place back later when Glock’s penalty for ignoring the blues was applied after the race.

Lotus
Jarno Trulli, P21
Heikki Kovalainen, Retired lap 9, accident with Webber
Lotus’ 500th race proved a disaster. Trulli was in trouble on the opening lap as he sustained front wing damage in the traffic and needed to stop for a replacement. Later his new T127 developed a gearbox fault, though later he was able to show encouraging race pace. Kovalainen was lucky to escape unharmed when the earliness with which he needed to brake into Turn 17 caught out Webber on lap nine.
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