Category Archives: Qualifying and Races

Vettel dominates, Alonso minimizes damage in India

Sebastian Vettel has taken a 4th victory in a row at the Indian Grand Prix, while Fernando Alonso did everything he could to keep the championship in sight.

The Red Bull took yet another emphatic win, but teammate Mark Webber was forced to fend off Alonso and Lewis Hamilton during the race. After a disappointing show by Kimi Raikkonen, the title battle is now surely down between two drivers. Here is what happened:

At the start, the Red Bulls held first and second, while Fernando Alonso put the McLarens under intense pressure. Going three abreast on the main straight, Alonso found his way past Jenson Button for 4th place.

On lap 4, the Ferrari eased past the second McLaren, by which time the Red Bulls were long gone. Michael Schumacher limped back to the pits with a right rear puncture.

It became clear that Button was unable to keep up with the frontrunners, as teammate Hamilton had no issues overtaking him.

Further back, Sergio Perez fell into the clutches of Nico Hulkenberg in the battle for 8th and 9th. Despite having DRS, Hulkenberg was unable to get past the Sauber, with Sergio successfully defending his position down the straight.

However, a few laps later, the Force India found its way past. Perez reacted, being the first to pit on lap 15. After his stop, he attempted a late out-braking move on Daniel Ricciardo, but overshot turn 4. A later pass attempt on the Toro Rosso resulted in a broken front wing and puncture.

The two Williams drivers were in combat, with Bruno Senna sneakily finding his way past Pastor Maldonado. The Brazilian soon found himself getting into the top 10, catching Nico Rosberg out at turn 4.

Kimi Raikkonen spent the first half of the race stuck behind Felipe Massa, the Lotus struggling from a low 7th gear. He emerged ahead of the Ferrari after his stop, but an easy use of DRS placed Felipe ahead once again.

Pastor Maldonado tried to get past Sergio Perez, but sliced across the Sauber, giving himself a puncture, and damaging Perez’s front wing. Pastor crawled back to the pits, holding up leader Sebastian Vettel in the process.

After the only set of stops, Fernando Alonso was finally able to close up to the back of Mark Webber, but the Red Bull was just about able to keep the gap above 1 second, meaning Fernando couldn’t activate DRS.

A brake failure for Pedro de la Rosa’s HRT speared him into the barriers at turn 4, but no safety car was deployed. However, the yellow flags was enough for Alonso to close the gap to Webber, and with 12 laps to go out-braked him to take 2nd place from the Red Bull.

The slowness of the Red Bull was confirmed as a KERS failure, and Lewis Hamilton was quickly informed of the issue. The McLaren began pulling a second per lap out of Webber’s lead, and was all over the Red Bull with a few laps to go.

Sebastian Vettel was informed of a possible issue of his car, as his undertray began sparking against the ground, but it wasn’t enough to spoil Red Bull’s party. Vettel took the chequered flag with 9 seconds to Alonso, while Webber successfully defended against Hamilton until the end.

Jenson Button took the fastest lap on the final lap in 5th, while Kimi Raikkonen’s title hopes are completely over after finishing 7th.

Third Red Bull lockout in a row in India

Sebastian Vettel has taken a closely contended pole position for the Indian Grand Prix, once again leading teammate Mark Webber.

Championship contender Fernando Alonso could only manage 5th, while the McLarens pose a challenge to Webber, with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button 3rd and 4th.

Q1

The Force Indias were out on track first, pleasing the local fans.

Hulkenberg and Di Resta took control of the session for the initial few minutes, until they were unseated by Felipe Massa. Interestingly, the Brazilian assisted Fernando Alonso in getting a slipstream down the main straight, but Alonso still did not catch up to his teammate’s time.

The Williams car proved to have huge potential, as Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna went ahead of everyone else, until Sebastian Vettel finally set a time, a 1:26.621, which was comfortably faster than all other drivers.

A spin for Massa ruined any chances of retaking the lead. Vettel improved on his time by 0.3 seconds, while Mark Webber could only manage 3rd.

The only battle to avoid 18th place was between the Toro Rossos, with Jean-Eric Vergne once again being knocked out of Q1. A spin into the gravel trap ended Heikki Kovalainen’s session early.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:27.525

19) Vitaly Petrov  – 1:28.756

20) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:29.500

21) Timo Glock – 1:29.613

22) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:30.592

23) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:30.593

24) Charles Pic – 1:30.662

Q2

The midfield teams shared top spot for a while, until Lewis Hamilton went on top.

The Red Bulls soon stamped their authority on the field, with Vettel and Webber being the first to set 1:25s.

Hamilton was set to improve further, but understeered at turn 6 and ran onto the grass. Eventually, he and Button retook 3rd and 4th, but still couldn’t catch the Red Bulls.

Despite encountering traffic, Kimi Raikkonen still got into the top 10. However, fast times from Maldonado and Hulkenberg put him under additional pressure, and forced him to set another lap.

Felipe Massa was set for another embarassing Q2 exit, but just saved face with a 10th place.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

10)

11) Romain Grosjean – 1:26.136

12) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:26.241

13) Bruno Senna – 1:26.331

14) Michael Schumacher – 1:26.571

15) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:26.777

16) Paul di Resta – 1:26.989

17) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:27.219

Q3

Fernando Alonso was first up, setting a 1:25.773. Surprisingly, Vettel made a mistake on his first lap, running wide at turns 6 and 7.

Mark Webber got ahead of the Ferrari by 0.4 seconds, while Lewis Hamilton struggled on his opening laps. After ruining his first set of tyres, Vettel pitted earlier than his rivals.

Kimi Raikkonen was unable to make an impact, while Button was 4 tenths off Webber’s time. Vettel’s next lap was a better one, putting him on top by 0.05 seconds.

After poor opening sectors on the last lap, both Red Bulls opted to pit, putting them at risk from other drivers. However, the Ferraris didn’t have enough pace to challenge, while the McLarens could only manage 3rd and 4th, with Hamilton pipping Button.

Kimi Raikkonen’s championship hopes continued to slip away, with a poor 7th place. Despite the front row lockout, the Red Bulls were not as dominant as feared, so the battle for the championship is still open.

Vettel survives tyre scare to win in Korea

Sebastian Vettel has taken his third victory in a row at the Korean Grand Prix. It wasn’t easy sailing all the way though, as both Red Bulls incurred serious tyre degradation near the end of the race. After crawling the last few laps, Vettel eventually led home teammate Mark Webber, with Fernando Alonso taking 3rd place, losing control of the world championship in the process.

Lewis Hamilton had a complete disaster of a race, while the Toro Rossos took an impressive double points finish. Here is what happened:

At the start, Vettel slided past Webber into the first corner, while Fernando Alonso put huge pressure on the Red Bulls. Jenson Button’s race only lasted two corners, being taken out by Kamui Kobayashi in the braking zone at the end of the straight, ending the McLaren’s race.

Sergio Perez made good progress, benefiting from the Kobayashi carnage to move up to 9th. However, up front, Sebastian began to sail away at the front, having dispatched of his rivals with ease.

The two Toro Rossos began to tussle amongst themselves, being held up by Pastor Maldonado. After asking for team orders, Daniel Ricciardo still benefited when Maldonado ran wide, allowing both himself and Jean-Eric Vergne through.

Unsurprisingly, a drive-through penalty was the order of the day for Kobayashi, after causing two retirements on the first lap.

The stranded Mercedes of Roseberg caused some pain for the stewards, causing double-waved yellows to be out for 10 laps while the car was cleared. Afterwards, DRS was finally enabled, allowing several drivers to make passing moves the following lap.

Nico Hulkenberg was clearly unhappy with the balance of his Force India, struggling to keep 7th from Romain Grosjean and Perez.

Lewis Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to pit, taking on the soft tyre. On the same lap, both Hulkenberg and Grosjean also pitted, the Force India just about keeping its position.

After the first set of stops, there was no change up front, but Fernando Alonso was hard-pushed to hold off Sergio Perez, who hadn’t pitted. Hamilton swiftly got involved in the battle, and regained 4th from the Sauber. Perez began to slide down the order, and by lap 18 was down to 6th place.

Lewis’ pace was quickly shattered, as he reported a huge loss of downforce from his car. Going several seconds a lap slower, he was easy pickings for Felipe Massa, dropping down to 5th position. Kimi Raikkonen tried a move, but the McLaren held firm. Several entertaining laps ensued, with the Lotus trying every type of overtake, but Lewis impressively held his position.

However, he opted to bring his second stop forward, releasing Raikkonen into 5th.

The second round of stops was similarly fruitless for Alonso, failing to make any progress to Webber in front. Despite a mistake from Vettel on his in lap, he emerged comfortably in front of his teammate.

Just out of the points, Paul di Resta made a move on Michael Schumacher for 11th. Sergio Perez, whose disastrous first stint put him out of contention for big points, began to challenge the Mercedes.

Further ahead, Nico Hulkenberg put an excellent move on Lewis Hamilton, who then was forced to hold off Romain Grosjean. A bad day got much worse for McLaren, after they informed Lewis that he would have to stop for a third time.

After his third stop, Hamilton emerged in 10th place. He put a move on Jean-Eric Vergne for 9th, but the Toro Rosso impressively held the former world champion off.

8th-placed Daniel Ricciardo had an off at the braking zone at turn 3, and within several laps had been reeled in by Vergne and Hamilton. He relectantly allowed teammate Jean-Eric through, but was able to hold off Hamilton until the end. He was assisted, though, by a bizarre incident, where a large piece of astroturf lodged itself in Lewis’ sidepod, and forced him to slow down.

The Red Bull drivers were warned to conserve their front right tyres, but were reassured that they could make it to the end of the race. In the closing laps, there were some worried faces on the Red Bull pit wall, but Vettel managed to crawl around the track to take his third victory in a row.

Alonso was unable to catch Webber in the end, while Massa did well to take 4th ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Hamilton finished 10th, with his championship ambitions well and truly over.

Webber pips Vettel in Red Bull Korean qualifying lockout

Mark Webber caused a minor surprise, beating teammate Sebastian Vettel to pole position for the Korean Grand Prix.

Championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso will line up 3rd and 4th, setting us up for an exciting race tomorrow. Jenson Button didn’t make it through to Q3, while Mercedes showed signs of improvement, with both cars getting through to Q3. Here is what happened:

Q1

With the track still dusty off-line, times were still relatively slow. Fernando Alonso’s first flying lap, a 1:39.543, was enough to put him on top.

Continuing on from his good form in Japan, Felipe Massa improved on his teammate’s time by half a second. Narain Karthikeyan had a huge spin at turn 3, “losing the brakes completely” in the braking zone, but was able to move his car out of the way.

Lewis Hamilton struggled with brake locking, but took 3rd after several attempts. After dominating Saturday morning practice, Vettel again set the standard, with a 1:38.2.

Teammate Webber could only manage to get within 2 tenths of the sister Red Bull. The Saubers showed much less pace than last week in Suzuka, and like Williams were forced to expend a set of super-softs to get both drivers into Q2.

Incredibly, despite dropping as low as 16th place, Lewis Hamilton opted not to set another lap time, just scraping through to Q2 alongside Fernando Alonso.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Bruno Senna – 1:39.443

19) Vitaly Petrov – 1:40.207

20) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:40.333

21) Charles Pic – 1:41.317

22) Timo Glock – 1:41.371

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:42.881

Narain Karthikeyan – N/A

Q2

The two Sauber drivers left the pits first on scrubbed supers-softs. A 1:38.901 for Perez and 1:38.594 for Kobayashi briefly put them on top, until Mark Webber went 0.3 seconds faster.

Fernando Alonso was the first driver to get into the 1:37s, but he was instantly beaten by Sebastian Vettel. After a complete lack of pace in Q1, Lewis Hamilton got close to pipping Vettel, but lost several tenths in the final sector.

In the final few minutes, all drivers but Vettel went back on track. However, many fast laps were ruined after Jean-Eric Vergne caused double-waves yellows in the final sector, pulling over to the side of the track.

Amazingly, Jenson Button only took 11th place, losing out on Q3 by 0.005 seconds.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jenson Button – 1:38.441

12) Sergio Perez – 1:38.460

13) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:38.594

14) Paul di Resta – 1:38.643

15) Pastor Maldonado – 1:38.725

16) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:39.084

17) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:39.340

Q3

Despite the light going green at the end of the pit lane, the Mercedes drivers opted to hold at pit exit for half a minute, to improve track position.

Fernando Alonso was first up, setting a 1:37.667, 4 tenths faster than Felipe Massa. Mark Webber got very close to Alonso, while Vettel quickly slashed the fastest time by 0.35 seconds.

Lewis Hamilton was nowhere in comparison, again locking up his front left and ruining his lap. Nico Hulkenberg pitted after his out lap, opting not to set a fast time on his first run.

All 10 drivers decided to go out on track for the final few minutes. Mark Webber was up first, pipping Vettel’s time by 0.074 seconds. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg lost huge amounts of time in the final sector, while Fernando Alonso could only manage 4th position.

After Vettel failed to improve on his last lap, pole position was confirmed for Webber, while championship contenders Hamilton and Alonso line up 3rd and 4th, right behind Sebastian Vettel.

Kimi Raikkonen was a quiet 5th, with Felipe Massa 6th. Nico Hulkenberg decided to set a time at the end of the session, lining up behind  Romain Grosjean. The two Mercedes drivers made it into Q3, but could only manage 9th and 10th.

Vettel unfazed by first lap incidents to dominate Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel has become the first back-to-back winner of the 2012 season, taking an easy victory at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Championship leader Fernando Alonso was elminated on the first lap after a clash with Kimi Raikkonen, while several other drivers’ races were ruined. Lewis Hamilton struggled to a 5th placed finish, while Felipe Massa and Kamui Kobayashi both impressed. Here is what happened:

By the first lap, the championship battle had taken a massive twist, with Fernando Alonso pointing backwards and out of the race. Replays showed that the Ferrari made contact with Kimi Raikkonen, and spun in front of the entire field, luckily avoiding another accident.

Romain Grosjean, Bruno Senna and Mark Webber all crawled back to the pits after a chaotic first lap, and the safety car was deployed.

At the restart, Vettel continued to lead the race, while he was now challenged by Kamui Kobayashi and Jenson Button. Sergio Perez tried a move on Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner, but was squeezed out and dropped to 7th place.

After making a mistake with his setup in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton was 6th, and struggling to hold off the charging Sauber. By lap 6, Perez put a brave move at the hairpin to get past the driver he will replace next season.

While the Alonso/Raikkonen crash was clear for all to see, the Grosjean/Webber incident was more controversial. Within a few laps, the stewards had decided that Romain was at fault, handing him a 10 second stop/go penalty, dropping him to the bottom of the field.

After an action-packed opening stint, Button, Raikkonen and Hulkenberg all pitted for the harder tyre on lap 14. Kamui Kobayashi pitted a lap later, keeping a slim margin over Button behind. Kimi, meanwhile, exited the pits just behind Jean-Eric Vergne and Heikki Kovalainen, and was forced to pick them off to gain clean air.

By the end of the first round of stops, Button began to report a gearbox issue, but his team encouraged him to keep pushing. Felipe Massa, almost invisible to the rest of the field, emerged from his stop in 2nd place.

Sergio Perez tried a second move on Lewis Hamilton around the outside of the hairpin, but misjudged braking left him beached in the gravel trap and out of the race.

Lewis was free of the chasing Sauber, but within several laps he was then holding off the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg. While Hamilton bemoaned his setup, Nico was concerned about tyre wear, as the two ran closely lap after lap.

Both Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen pitted within a lap of each other, and the two tussled for position at the first corner, with the McLaren just moving into 5th position.

Not much changed at the second stop, with the majority of drivers taking on the hard tyres until the end of the race. Further back, Senna and Grosjean, who had both been penalised for first lap incidents, began to battle away, with Bruno eventually taking the Lotus at 130R.

Entering the closing laps, Kamui Kobayashi’s podium finish was under threat, as Button began to pressurise the Sauber. With a few laps to go, the McLaren closed the gap to a single second, but Kamui bravely held on to take his first ever podium finish.

Up front, Vettel was completely unchallenged to take his third win of 2012, and closes within 4 points of Fernando Alonso. Massa took an impressive 2nd place, which will help massively for his 2013 hopes, but the biggest cheer was saved for local hero Kobayashi.

Button and Hamilton took 4th and 5th, while Raikkonen was 6th, and still quietly in contention for the world championship. Mark Webber recovered to take 9th, while Daniel Ricciardo held off Michael Schumacher for the final point.

Red Bull crush opposition in Japanese Grand Prix qualifying lockout

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will share the front row for the Japanese Grand Prix for the first time in the 2012 season.

A spin by Kimi Raikkonen in the closing minutes ruined many drivers’ fastest laps, most notably Lewis Hamilton. Sauber had a fantastic showing, with Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez 3rd and 5th.

Q1

Vettel was one of the few drivers who was able to get through Q1 without going on to the softer tyres.

After a crash in Saturday morning practice, Nico Hulkenberg sat out much of qualifying, but was able to get out in time to set a 1:32.828.

Jean-Eric Vergne has received a 3-place grid penalty, after holding up Bruno Senna on his final qualifying lap. The Toro Rosso slowed down the Williams in the braking zone at the final chicane, and will drop to 19th position.

Michael Schumacher suffered a scare, nearly getting knocked out of Q1 after setting his only flying lap at the end of the session. Nevertheless, he just scraped through on the hard tyres.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Bruno Senna – 1:33.405

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1;34.657

20) Timo Glock – 1:35.213

21) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:35.385

22) Charles Pic – 1:35.429

23) Vitaly Petrov – 1:35.432

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:36.734

Q2

The top 3 drivers in Q2 – Vettel, Button and Webber – were the only ones confident enough to not go out at the end of the session, opting to set their fastest laps earlier than their rivals.

Paul di Resta was left furious, after being held up heavily by Romain Grosjean at the final chicane, though no penalty was given.

Alonso, Hamilton, Perez, Kobayashi and Raikkonen all secured their places in Q3 comfortably, while the focus shifted onto Felipe Massa. The struggling Ferrari driver appeared to be safe with a 1:32.293, but dropped swiftly from 5th to 12th, only managing to split the Force Indias.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Felipe Massa – 1:32.293

12) Paul di Resta – 1:32.327

13) Michael Schumacher – 1:32.469

14) Pastor Maldonado – 1:32.512

15) Nico Rosberg – 1:32.625

16) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:32.954

17) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:33.368

Q3

The Red Bulls quickly showed their hand – Vettel setting a 1:30.839, with Webber 2 tenths off. Although Button managed to get into 3rd on his first lap, nobody could get close enough to challenge for pole yet.

Hamilton bemoaned a setup change in third practice, and could only manage 9th.

On the final set of runs, Sebastian was set to go even faster, but his momentum was ruined after Kimi Raikkonen spun at Spoon curve and brought out the double-waved yellows.

Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton all failed to improve on their times, while Kamui Kobayashi leaped up to 4th place. Sauber’s pace was confirmed with a P6 from Sergio Perez.

A grid penalty for a gearbox change for Button promotes the Saubers to 3rd and 5th respectively. With the grid sealed, Vettel was able to cruise back to the pits for his 31st pole position, and his 4th consecutive pole in Suzuka.

Points standings after Singapore Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Fernando Alonso 194
2 Sebastian Vettel 165
3 Kimi Raikkonen 149
4 Lewis Hamilton 142
5 Mark Webber 132
6 Jenson Button 119
7 Nico Rosberg 93
8 Romain Grosjean 82
9 Sergio Perez 66
10 Felipe Massa 51
11 Paul di Resta 44
12 Michael Schumacher 43
13 Kamui Kobayashi 35
14 Nico Hulkenberg 31
15 Pastor Maldonado 29
16 Bruno Senna 25
17 Jean-Eric Vergne 8
18 Daniel Ricciardo 6
19 Timo Glock  0
20 Charles Pic  0
21 Vitaly Petrov  0
22 Heikki Kovalainen 0
23 Pedro de la Rosa 0
24 Narain Karthikeyan 0

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 297
2 McLaren-Mercedes 261
3 Ferrari 245
4 Lotus-Renault 231
5 Mercedes AMG 136
6 Sauber-Ferrari 101
7 Force India-Mercedes 75
8 Williams-Renault 54
9 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 14
10 Caterham-Renault 0
11 Marussia-Cosworth 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0

Webber demoted to 11th after illegaly overtaking Kobayashi

Mark Webber is the second driver to fall prey to the stewards today, after being handed a drive-through penalty after the Singapore Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver was deemed to have overtaken Kamui Kobayashi off the track, which became a 20-second time penalty after the race had ended.

The stewards noted a “minimal” use of the run-off area, but it was still enough to earn a penalty:

"Notwithstanding that the distance by which car two left the circuit was minimal, 
advantage was gained hence a breach did in fact occur. Such a breach has 
consistently attracted a drive-through penalty."

Webber has dropped to 11th place, which promotes Sergio Perez to 10th position.

Schumacher handed 10-place grid penalty for Suzuka

Michael Schumacher has been given a 10-place penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix in two weeks time.

Schumacher caused the second safety car period of the Singapore GP, after locking up and slamming into Jean-Eric Vergne, taking both drivers on the spot.

This is the second time Schumacher has made such a blunder this year. The first was in Barcelona, where the Mercedes driver took out Bruno Senna during braking at turn 1.

The stewards noted that Schumacher had misjudged his braking, due to his brakes being cooler after the previous safety car stint:

"The driver admitted the collision was his error due to the failure to anticipate 
the braking performance
of the car with lower tyre grip following a safety car period.

The penalty takes into account that this is the second similar offence by the 
driver this season."

Hamilton disaster hands Vettel Singapore win

Sebastian Vettel has claimed a comfortable Singapore Grand Prix win, ahead of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.

Lewis Hamilton was set to take the win, but a gearbox failure left him out of the running. Two safety cars in close succession bunched up the field halfway through the race, which led to some excellent racing after a dull first half. Here is what happened:

At the start, Hamilton retained his lead, while Vettel and Button demoted Maldonado to 4th. Further back, there was embarassment for Caterham, as Heikki Kovalainen clashed with teammate Vitaly Petrov, forcing Petrov to pit for a new front wing. Felipe Massa suffered a puncture before the end of the lap.

A huge amount of drivers cut the first two corners, causing a mass investigation by the stewards. Replays showed that Webber, Rosberg, Senna and Ricciardo all may have gained an advantage.

The Mercedes drivers, starting 9th and 10th, were instructed to cool their tyres, causing a train of cars to form behind them. Despite the advantage of DRS, Kimi Raikkonen in 11th was unable to pass them before the pit stops.

Mark Webber surprised many, by pitting prematurely on lap 9, despite having no drop-off in lap times. The rest of the field ignored this move, and the Red Bull was relegated to 19th place.

By lap 10, tyre degradation became the main issue, as Sebastian Vettel began losing a second to Hamilton in front, and 2 seconds to Button behind. Unsurprisingly, he swiftly pitted, taking on the prime tyres like his teammate. He emerged in 12th, and wasted no time in getting past Sergio Perez.

Up front, Hamilton reported something felt wrong with his right-rear tyre, and pitted on lap 12. Now only two places behind, Vettel made another pass, this time on Kimi Raikkonen. After staying out a few laps more, Button eventually pitted, and came out well behind the battling duo.

Nico Hulkenberg was one of the few who decided to start on the prime tyre. He had made his way up to 6th, but was ordered to allow teammate Paul di Resta past, who was on a fresher set of tyres. Nico, along with Sergio Perez, both pitted on lap 19.

The race was soon turned on its head, after Lewis Hamilton suddenly suffered a gearbox failure on lap 24. Vettel eased into the lead, noticing a plume of smoke coming out of the McLaren. Lewis was forced to retire, delivering a crushing blow to his championship hopes.

With Vettel now leading, teammate Webber was struggling in 6th, failing to make an impression on the race. Again, he was the first to take on a new set of tyres.

Both Maldonado and Alonso pitted on lap 30, with Pastor just keeping a slender lead over the Ferrari. Interestingly, the Williams took on the super-soft tyres, while Alonso was on the softs.

The two began to battle it out, running side-by-side through some corners, but their fun was cut short after a crash by Narain Karthikeyan. The safety car was deployed, causing all the frontrunners to pit, and cutting the gap between Vettel and Button. The Force Indias ended up 4th and 5th, with Hulkenberg having only stopped once.

While still under safety car conditions, a disaster loomed for Williams, as Maldonado suffered a hydraulics problem, and was forced to retire.

On the restart, the frontrunners all held their positions, while Sergio Perez lost two positions. Mark Webber pulled an impressive move on Nico Hulkenberg, but his fun was cut short, as the safety car was called out again. Similarly to last year, Michael Schumacher had a complete brain fade, slamming into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne, taking both cars out on the spot.

Webber, Perez and Hulkenberg all took the opportunity to stop again. Vitaly Petrov’s race was completely ruined at his pit stop, stopping at the end of the pit lane and being pushed back to his pit box.

At the second restart, Grosjean shut the door on his own teammate at turn 1, nearly causing an embarassing crash. Felipe Massa put an incredibly brave move on Bruno Senna, nearly spinning, but just about taking the position. Only a few laps later, he was easily past Daniel Ricciardo for 8th place.

After their close call, the Lotus team intervened in the Grosjean-Raikkonen battle, instructing Romain not to hold his teammate up. Sergio Perez attempted a move on Hulkenberg for 13th, but clipped his front wing off the Force India. Mark Webber put a move on Kamui Kobayashi, who then immediately clashed with Hulkenberg like his teammate, giving Nico a puncture and taking off a second Sauber front wing.

As the race hit the two-hour limit, Mark Webber made a late dash to take 10th from Bruno Senna, but was unable to take 9th from Daniel Ricciardo.

Up front, Button was unable to match Vettel’s pace, so the Red Bull cruised to only his second win of the season. Fernando Alonso took a comfortable 3rd, while Paul di Resta took an excellent 4th place. Nico Rosberg was quiet in 5th, while Felipe Massa climbed all the way up the grid to take 8th.

Vettel now leaps up to second in the championship, but Alonso’s lead continues to grow over his rivals.

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