Vettel leads procession as McLaren stumbles

Sebastian Vettel led home the longest field in Formula One history to claim his sixth victory of the season in a largely uninspiring European Grand Prix. 
The German, now well accustomed to the sensation, dominated from pole to flag in flawless style as Red Bull’s closest rivals in McLaren and Ferrari failed to make in impression on the leader.
‘I tell you I enjoyed it so much,’ he said. ‘When it’s just between you and the car… for some reason I enjoy this track.’
‘We managed to put everything together for a faultless weekend.
‘From beginning to the end, fantastic.’
The most Vettel had to battle with was traffic as he set about lapping a full-length field, with all 24 cars finishing to make it the greatest number of drivers to complete a race.
Fernando Alonso did well, however, to prove Ferrari’s progress thus far this season to finish a confident second after a number of position changes with Australian Mark Webber, who managed third.
‘It was an interesting race, for the fans and for the people watching on the TV, to see the fight with Webber all the way through,’ reflected the home crowd favourite.
‘The teams did a very good strategy by keeping the car out a few laps longer on the soft tyre.
‘In the end I think the second place is the maximum we can have.’
Webber held on to second place on the first lap after a spritely start from Felipe Massa, but eventually succumbed to a combination of KERS problems and Alonso’s pace on the soft tyre. His gearbox would prevent him from challenging the Spaniard later in the race.

Webber: It was my fault

‘I think we should have [been able to score a Red Bull one-two], but in the end we didn’t,’ conceded Webber.
The fight between the two culminated in the final pit stop, which saw Webber gamble on an early switch to the prime compound. His pace on the opening few laps saw Alonso maintain his place after his stop, while a gearbox fault saw any chance of a fight back neutralised.
‘It was my fault to miss second today. It was not really known how the medium tyre would perform on the out lap.
‘[But] I think it was my best race of the year, to be honest.’
Lewis Hamilton did well to salvage a difficult day on the streets of Valencia to finish fourth, just ahead of Massa who struggled on the new medium compound tyre.
Button nursed his car home after his KERS packed in due to the high temperatures just past half distance. Retirement was on the cards for the Canadian Grand Prix winner before he managed to shut down the system and carry on.
Nico Rosberg was the last of the cars to finish on the lead lap. His seventh place was, as predicted, the best he could manage in his Mercedes. His teammate was set for a similar finish, though an early tangle with Petrov resulted in Schumacher making a forced stop for a front wing change.
After such a promising resurgence in Canada, he spent the rest of the race towards the back, finishing down in a disappointing 17th place.
Jaime Alguersuari went some way to answering his critics by taking his second consecutive eighth place – and second points position – of the season.
The Spaniard, who calls Valencia his ‘second home’, improved his on his P18 qualification position to the tune of ten places. After being the only midfield runner to miss out on making Q2, he convincingly outperformed teammate Buemi – who only managed 13th -for the first time this season.
Adrian Sutil returned to some resemblance of form with a ninth place finish, managing the gap between himself and Nick Heidfeld, whose Lotus-Renault-Lotus-Lotus scored the final point of the day.
Those who had hoped that the FIA’s late decision to include engine mapping to the parc ferme list would tame Red Bull’s dominating pace were sadly mistaken as Vettel imperiously managed his pace throughout the race.
It was evident from early in the race, however, that it would be Ferrari who would keep the reigning champions honest as McLaren struggled with rear tyre wear.

McLaren fall back

Jenson Button’s scrap with Nico Rosberg for sixth place in the race’s opening stages illustrated at much, with the Mercedes finding significantly more grip on the exits of corners. It took a daring move by Button to clear his rival, though his progress up the field stopped there.
Hamilton suffered similar problems, with his engineer imploring him to tame his aggressive driving style. He would pay the price for refusing to heed the warning, with his tyres too expiring earlier than expected.
Beyond these hiccups in form from some of the front runners, the ultimate race to the championship gained little from Valencia. While Vettel’s consistency this season is often tempered by the challenge put to him by his competitors, no such competition eventuated in what was a largely processional race on the street circuit.
 
Formula One moves on to Great Britain in a fortnight for round nine of the 2011 championship season. 
 
2011 European Grand Prix results:

Pos.
Driver
Team
Laps
Time
Grid
Diff.
Pts.

1
VETTEL
Red Bull
57
Winner
1
0
25

2
ALONSO
Ferrari
57
+10.8s
4
2
18

3
WEBBER
Red Bull
57
+27.2s
2
-1
15

4
HAMILTON
McLaren
57
+46.1s
3
-1
12

5
MASSA
Ferrari
57
+51.7s
5
0
10

6
BUTTON
McLaren
57
+60.0s
6
0
8

7
ROSBERG
Mercedes
57
+98.0s
7
0
6

8
ALGUERSUARI
Toro Rosso
56
+1 Lap
18
10
4

9
SUTIL
Force India
56
+1 Lap
10
1
2

10
HEIDFELD
Renault
56
+1 Lap
9
-1
1

11
PEREZ
Sauber
56
+1 Lap
16
5
 

12
BARRICHELLO
Williams
56
+1 Lap
13
1
 

13
BUEMI
Toro Rosso
56
+1 Lap
17
4
 

14
DI RESTA
Force India
56
+1 Lap
12
-2
 

15
PETROV
Renault
56
+1 Lap
11
-4
 

16
KOBAYASHI
Sauber
56
+1 Lap
14
-2
 

17
SCHUMACHER
Mercedes
56
+1 Lap
8
-9
 

18
MALDONADO
Williams
56
+1 Lap
15
-3
 

19
KOVALINEN
Team Lotus
55
+2 Laps
19
0
 

20
TRULLI
Team Lotus
55
+2 Laps
20
0
 

21
GLOCK
Virgin
55
+2 Laps
21
0
 

22
D’AMBROSIO
Virgin
55
+2 Laps
23
1
 

23
LIUZZI
HRT
54
+3 Laps
22
-1
 

24
KARTHIKEYAN
HRT
54
+3 Laps
24
0
 

 
2011 Drivers’ Championship after nine rounds:

Pos.
Driver
Country
Team
Points

1
VETTEL
Germany
Red Bull
186

2
BUTTON
Great Britain
McLaren
109

3
WEBBER
Australia
Red Bull
109

4
HAMILTON
Great Britain
McLaren
97

5
ALONSO
Spain
Ferrari
87

6
MASSA
Brazil
Ferrari
42

7
ROSBERG
Germany
Mercedes
32

8
PETROV
Russia
Renault
31

9
HEIDFELD
Germany
Renault
30

10
SCHUMACHER
Germany
Mercedes
26

11
KOBAYASHI
Japan
Sauber
25

12
SUTIL
Germany
Force India
10

13
ALGUERSUARI
Spain
Toro Rosso
8

14
BUEMI
Switzerland
Toro Rosso
8

15
BARRICHELLO
Brazil
Williams
4

16
PEREZ
Mexico
Sauber
2

17
DI RESTA
Great Britain
Force India
2

 
2011 Constructors’ Championship after nine rounds:

Pos.
Team
Country
Points

1
RED BULL
Austria
295

2
MCLAREN
Grat Britain
206

3
FERRARI
Italy
129

4
RENAULT
Great Britain
61

5
MERCEDES
Germany
58

6
SAUBER
Switzerland
27

7
TORO ROSSO
Italy
16

8
FORCE INDIA
India
12

9
WILLIAMS
Great Britain
4

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