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Vettel cruises to win in controversial European Grand Prix
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Vettel cruises to win in controversial European Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Jun 2010   |  2:56 pm GMT  |  381 comments

Sebastian Vettel won the European Grand Prix at Valencia today ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

But the stewards had a busy afternoon, investigating ten drivers in total.

It was Vettel’s second win of the season, the seventh of his career and it put him “back on track” as he said, after some races blighted with problems.

Rubens Barrichello capitalised on Williams’ improved performance and the safety car to pick up a well deserved fourth place, Robert Kubica was fifth and Adrian Sutil sixth. Kamui Kobayashi was a candidate for driver of the day with a barnstorming ride to seventh place.

Sebastien Buemi had a strong run helped by the safety car.

Sauber got both cars to the points for the first time this season, the first shoots of a recovery for the team.

It was another brilliant but controversial performance from Hamilton, who incurred a penalty which didn’t cost him any positions.

The majority of the race saw Vettel out on his own, as first Kobayashi got himself into third place during an early safety car period, which turned the race in the early stages and allowed Vettel and Hamilton to make a break.

Then Hamilton got a drive through penalty, which dropped him 15 seconds behind Vettel, but because of the Kobayashi factor he was able to serve the penalty without losing any positions, much to the fury of Ferrari and Fernando Alonso in particular.

The safety car was triggered by a monumental accident for Mark Webber, who flipped his Red Bull in a high speed collision with Heikki Kovalainen on lap 9.

Webber walked away from the accident, which is sure to raise all kinds of questions about the wisdom of rules to encourage overtaking by increasing speed differentials between cars.

At the start Hamilton passed Webber for second place into turn one, and as Webber got off line, the two Ferraris went through as well. As he struggled to recover and battled Button, Webber lost further ground, dropping to 9th place.

Hamilton had a run at Vettel into Turn 2 and the pair touched lightly, Hamilton reporting a vibration as a result.

Schumacher got a good start, jumping up to 11th from 15th on the grid. He started the race on the harder tyre, which gave him a strong tactical position. But that was squandered later when Mercedes mistimed his first stop and he had to wait at the pit lane exit as the cars behind the safety car went by.

In the opening stint Vettel pulled away from Hamilton at around half a second per lap, the Red Bull’s advantage was mainly in the faster corners of the final sector.

Webber made an early stop on lap 8 to try to jump ahead of the Williams cars, which were holding him up. But once again problems with the wheel nut delayed him by around four seconds.

On lap 9 Mark Webber suffered a huge accident when he closed quickly on the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen and took off as he hit him. The Red Bull flew up into the air and flipped over, landing on its roll over hoop. With Webber having just pitted and dropped behind him, Kovalainen was trying to defend the position.

This brought out the safety car and a flurry of pit stops. Button was the first car to get to the pits and he jumped up to fourth as a result. He was followed by Barrichello and Kubica and Buemi.

Vettel and Hamilton pitted together, Hamilton taking the opportunity to change his front wing as he changed his tyres. They rejoined in first and second places.

The Ferraris lost out badly as the safety car came out just in front of them, Alonso dropping down to 9th place and Massa, who had to stack behind Alonso, dropped to P15.

At the restart Vettel made a mistake and Hamilton almost passed him, but Vettel held the position. With the safety car, Kobayashi did not pit and got himself up to third place. This held the field up and allowed the front two to get away at a second and a half per lap.

Alonso protested against Hamilton for overtaking the safety car as it was deployed and the stewards took a look at it during the race, giving him a drive though penalty.

Nine other drivers were investigated by the stewards for going too fast behind the safety car.

In the train behind Kobayashi, Button quickly fell to 10 seconds behind the leaders, with 13 cars nose to tail behind him.

Hamilton served the drive through penalty and stayed in second place, thanks to the train behind Kobayashi. Because it took the stewards quite a while to decide the penalty, this allowed a big enough gap to open up to Kobayashi for Hamilton to get a penalty-free penalty.

Kobayashi pitted with just four laps to go, rejoining ninth. This promoted Button to third place. On fresh tyres Kobayashi passed Alonso for eighth on the penultimate lap and Buemi on the last corner. It was the Kobayashi of old.

Hamilton retained his championhip lead to take to Silverstone in two weeks time.

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1

Something doesn’t quite add up with these penalties handed out to Kubica, Button et al.

Presumably since they were penalised for going too fast in the final sector, the safety car boards must have come out before they entered that final sector.

But if that’s true, then how come Massa and Alonso, only 2 and 4 seconds respectively ahead of Kubica, didn’t have time to pit? At the point Kubica entered the final sector Alonso would still have been a good 15 seconds from the pit entry.

Can anyone explain that?

2

Okay, here’s the only thing I don’t understand:

In Monaco when Barrichello threw the steering wheel out, people on this blog made a monumental fuss, claiming that he should have been punished, fined reprimanded, etc. It was so noteworthy that even James posted a video of Barrichello’s accident from an entirely different angle using footage caught by a spectator.

When Webber had that huge accident yesterday, not only did he throw out the steering wheel, but also he threw out the cockpit sides! The footage clearly shows this, but I guess people were far too caught up with the action at Valencia than they were at Monaco, to notice…

I personally don’t really care who did what, but I’m a bit bemused that the readers on this blog see Barrichello as the “Hate figure” and Webber does not recieve such abuse simply because his accident looked more spectacular, and he was on the ridiculously huge run-off area. It’s pretty useless to try and compare accidents, particularly at different circuits. Webber was in the same fit of rage anyway, and it’s the thought that counts. Surely if Mark can be excused, then so can Rubens?

3

I think the two are different cases. Barrichello tossed the steering wheel in the middle of the track. While Webber did it at run-off area. Whilst both were still a dangerous thing to do, but the severity that might be caused are largely different. Unless someone would deliberately visit that particular area at high speed which is impossible without accident or being overshoot. Surely he’ll end up at the tire wall or hits Webber’s wreckage straight away (which is caused by Webber steering wheel (?) yeah right…) 🙂

4

I totally agree with Ed H here.

Marybeth, didn’t Rubens say the same thing?

BA, I daresay that Mark Webber didn’t know exactly where he was on the track after flying through the air and bouncing off the tyre wall.

5

It is my guess that Mark was concerned there might be a fire & he wanted out as fast as he could.

6

James,

I have seen the question raised on another site, “Nobody has talked about how after a lap Webber went from second to 9th? Okay so he had a bad start and went to 4th after a few turns, but then lost how many more positions? Bad tyres?”, & that is my question too. If I had your resources I could try to find an answer, but I don’t. Can you find an answer for us?

7

I wonder what will Lewis’s next controversy be…

Any guesses?

8

James, so you agree that a bottle was thrown, shouldn’t that alone have troubled you and the FIA. It obviousy bothered Lewis when he radioed his pit that their was a bottle on the track. Who else but Lewis had racist remarks hurled at him at Barcelona in 2007, and a special area had to be set aside for Mclaren, because of the racial abuse demonstrated by many Spanish fans. Why didn’t any of the commentators here in the U.S. on Speed Channel, not even raise the question of how that bottle wind up on the track?

9

Well a bottle ended up on the track. Who knows how it got there

10

Time for stupid question… 😛

Where the safety car line(s) are located?

Is the line which was crossed by Hamilton and Safety Car while they were side-by-side before entering the first corner called a “safety car line”?

11

I believe that is the case. Lewis was about 3/4 of a car length short of legality when the safety car crossed that line.

12

Behind Vettel out front, a really crazy race. Loved Kobayashi’s gutsy race. Especially to stick it to Alonso on the final lap! Love to see the underdog do well. Tough day for the Silver Arrows. Great to see Barrichello back up there. Vettel deserved the win. Very clean. Was that a bottle Hulkenberg ran over to de-laminate his right rear tyre before it caught fire?

And glad Webber was safe and unhurt. Suspect he might have a whopper of a headache on Monday. But come on, is a crash like this really going to stop a guy that at the start of last season was hit by a car whilst cycling and then started the 2009 season with a broken leg?! (in Tasmania of all places – I won’t even start with the jokes there!)

13

Alonso and the spanish fans cant get over the fact that Alonso got beat by a rookie. Get over it!! Alonso needs to drive his race, get the team to make a better car and stop crying. Seems like Alonso has a Hamilton complex.

Oh, and the jump start was pretty obvious for anybody watching that race, no need to review it.

14

James have you given any thought to how that beer bottle that Lewis notified his crew about got on the track? What level of hate have some Spanish fans sunk to.

15

How do you know it was aimed at him?

16

i think it was an spectator that reacted like that due to frustration. Carlos sainz was comenting on spanish tv and was like that as well. It is funny to see how most of the spanish fans are reacting. They believed their own lies, that alonso was much better than hamilton, and blamed renault for giving him a bad car, now that they have a ferrari, they are running out of excuses.

17

Its quite clear that mentally Alonso has never fully recovered form the 2007 season of being beaten by a rookie with the X factor…….. that’s true.!

18

last time i checked and saw they had the same points at the end of the year so unless i wasn’t watching the same championship… so i hardly say he got beaten with the same points

19

Webber’s crash was eerily similar to that of Marco Campos at Magny Cours in 1995.

Glad he’s OK and further evidence that open-wheeler drivers deserve big time respect!

20

Prior to the pitstop under the safety car, we heard Alonso on his radio saying something about Hamilton backing cars up, a pescimist may think Hamiltons ‘moment of hesitation’ was a deliberate attempt to get infront of the satefy car whilst keeping the Ferraris behind it,in the press conference he claimed he could not remember what happened behind the safety car whilst looking very sheepish, hmm. Also the safety car driver would have suspected instantly that Hamilton may have overtaken him, why therefore was the stewards investigation not immediate?

21

Perhaps it’s time to change the safety car rules again! Pitting during safety car was reintroduced because teams claimed that it caused them problems if SC happened when they were due to stop for fuel. Now we have no refuelling so that arguement is out of the window. OK they do need to stop for tyres but that timing is more variable. It is utter madness if as soon as SC is declared everyone dives for the pits. The whole object of the SC is to bring the race under control to deal with an incident. With all the pitting today it was around 3 or 4 minutes before control was established, by which time the recovery had already been completed by the excellent marshals.

22
Jean-Christophe

What I wonder is whether Alonso could not face a penalty for bringing the sport into disreput.

Breach of International Sporting Code 151. c)

There would be quite a lot of toys flying around lol

23

“…he is more like the winner of “The X Factor” rather than Beethoven.”

Beautifully said, Craig!

24

I have a question. Instead of starting a new lap, couldn’t Alonso and Hamilton have come into the pits, thus avoiding the situation with the SC joining the circuit? (After all, the teams would have know that the SC was being deployed.)

25

I was really surprised by Alonso taking the Hamilton situation so personally. Yes, Hamilton gained an advantage by overtaking the safety car after the second line. Yes the punishment was light and probably should have been a stop/go but the fact is that Alonso himself was not impacted by Hamilton’s actions.

Whatever happened Alonso was always going to be behind the safety car. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, which happens to all drivers throughout the course of a season, and work at the gaining places back. Even if Hamilton had dropped in behind the safety car Alonso would have, more than likely, finished in the same position.

26

I agree. I am a Ferrari fan and this is what I am saying – they need to win races by their own pace and not by good or bad luck.

Alonso was not able to overtake Sutil, Buemi and was overtaken by Kobayashi, who later on overtook Buemi as well.

Alonso made a jumped start. Ferrari had problem with reliability. Ferrari are developing their car by copying Red Bull and McLaren.

There are bigger problems at Ferrari then Hamilton not being penalized fairly.

27

Ferrari were only slightly hard done by – Kobi showed that it does not always pay to pit when track position can be thrown away with the pack formed up.

Once you’ve missed the chance to pit, the best tactic is to hang on until the field has spread out again, and then pit, minimising the number of places lost.

I’d be interested in knowing why the SC was deployed at that time, because if Hamilton hadn’t dithered he would have been genuinely given the advantage. When you look at the unusual design with the very long but open pit lane, then the change to the merge line and then the second safety car line, it must be really confusing, and it seems Hamilton’s main mistake was instinctively slowing when he saw the safety car and then realising a fraction of a second late that he was entitled to pass it.

Poor track though – Button nurses his car, has all the fuel and tyre performance he needs and can’t take a car that he has 1.5 seconds a lap on.

It was also a shame that we didn’t get a proper sight of the build up to the Vettel-Hamilton clash – Hamilton seemed to overrun the corner, but I couldn’t tell how much he was blocked (if at all) then once again Vettel turns into another car that he hasn’t cleared – and Vettel also deliberately ran the warm up and safety car restart at such low speeds to try and give other people braking problems (but in the second case, stuffed himself) which seemed against the spirit of the rules. Lucky for him there were so many other incidents or I think that Red Bull tactics would be coming under more scrutiny.

28

Why is it that these two drivers in particular generate such polarised opinion?

LH was found guilty and took his punishment, in fairness it wasn’t black and white and the rules regarding where the safety car officially joins the track are not clear. LH took the gamble, after initially hesitating, and it paid off.

If the same incident was involving Jenson and Filipe, I can’t help but think that this would have been a non-event and the vitriol displayed here, by both sides, would not be happening.

Get a grip people, there is no conspiracy here.

29

I find it bizzare, the undying, blinded support of Hamilton/McLaren in any situation by his/their fans. Hamilton cheated, Alonso complained(as anyone would about cheating that affected them)and yet to the sightless McLaren fans Alonso is whinning. The stewards, to the complete benefit of Hamilton, take a drive through penalty worth of time to decide Hamiltons fate and as a result he suffers no loss. Alonso complains about the stewards pathetic decision and he is a whinner. Hamilton fans don’t seem to mind winning any way they can.

30

Everbody seems to be forgetting that the safety car is there for drivers and stewards safety. It is not there to shake things up or as an extra piece of strategy.

Today Hamilton arrived 2nd only because he cheated, no matter how marginal. It is quite clear that the punishment did not fit the crime. He should have been put back just a couple of seconds in front of Alonso. He was only in a position to “save” his 2nd place because he cheated.

So basically the system favours the cheaters.

I think that the safety car is a temporary suspension of the race and so no changes of position should be allowed, so before the restart all cars must be in same positions they were when the SC was deployed. The change being that they are all bunched up together.

31

yeah agree totally with this

Race positions are taken a lap before the saftey car and people must follow, under the saftey car no one must enter the pits. and if anyone overtakes the saftey car or tries to take advantage should be black flagged!

32

When the stewards finally made their decision(14 laps latter)it should have been a stop and go, to cover the 10sec gap Hamilton had accumulated between the infraction and the penalty.

33

I really don’t understand how FA and Ferrari (even Massa) complain this much. Sour grapes?

They should look real hard to their performance before pointing fingers. FA stood behing Buemi for so many laps that it was completely ridiculos. Sutil passed Buemi with no problems. Kamui came from a log way behind and overtook them both in the last corners, true his absolutely fresh tyres helped but I remeber Alonso defending absolutely godlike vs Schumi at Imola for about 15 laps. Again he was caught with his pants down, as in Monaco.

It’s funny that the FA supporters all cry foul but they seems to forget Singapore 2008.

Take Hamilton out of the picture and let’s focus on FA. Whatever LH did, FA was still going to be stuck behind the SC and finish where he did. LH had no influence on this.

Vettel and LH were pulling away from Alonso before the SC. If LH whould have stayed behind the SC how would FA and Ferrari justify the poor performance they displayed today?

I am not saying LH was innocent. He did break the rules although it was very close. Still, he was penalised for this. The view from the heli was clear, but put yourself in LH car, from his POV. He still had the vibration from his contact with Vettel, the distance between the 2 SC lines is very short, he had to comply with the Delta Time, everything was in place for a mistake.

I don’t think it was deliberate, it was a mere mistake.

The Safety Car rules should be clearer and hold the cars whatever the position. If there is danger on the track than no car should pass the SC, not even lapped cars.

PS Thank you JA

34

Funny, I don’t remember Ferrari complaining how “penalties should have consequences” in 1998 after the Silverstone GP, when Schumi won the race by serving his stop’n-go after crossing the finish line…

35

James, why in the world did safety car came out in the middle of the leading drivers? It’s nonsense. Shouldn’t he pick up the leading driver?

36

Exactly. See the latest post on Alonso’s anger

37

Tragic day for F1. Total shame. Drivers who obey rules are “whining”, drivers who drive according their own reglament are “winning”. 5s penalties – what is it? Can we expect 1s penalties someday?

38

I couldn’t agree more. I am by no means an Alonso or Ferrari fan, but today I feel completely sympathetic to them. The stewards could have easily given a stop-go penalty to ensure that Hamilton came out behind Kobayashi. Plus, the 5 second “penalty” for violating the delta time is a complete joke. If this is going to be standard penalty, wouldn’t it be worth the risk to get to the pits at race pace if it means gaining track position?

The lesson to be learned from this race? Ignore the safety car and the delta time and you’ll end up finishing ahead of the drivers who actually follow the rules.

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