Vettel takes the win in dramatic European Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel won the European Grand Prix today, with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button 2nd and 3rd. Also, Rubens Barrichello was 4th, with Kamui Kobayashi 7th after a fantastic performance. However, there is a large stewards investigation ongoing at the moment, so the result could well change. Here is the report in full:

At the start, Lewis Hamilton jumped up into 2nd place, and Fernando Alonso started to pressurise Webber for 3rd. At Turn 1, Hamilton made a move on Vettel for the lead, but went slightly too fast into the corner, hit Vettel and damaged his car, but remained 2nd. Webber had a torrid first lap, dropping to 9th place.

Sebastian Vettel leads the field on Lap 1

Sebastian Vettel leads the field on Lap 1

Robert Kubica overtook Jenson Button for 5th. Further back, Adrian Sutil got past team-mate Liuzzi, and Jarno Trulli lost his front wing after hitting Kamui Kobayashi. On Lap 4, Alonso’s pit radio suggested that pieces of debris were falling off Lewis’ car because of the first lap incident. Hamilton also reported that there were vibrations on his front left tyre.

On Lap 5, Trulli pitted for the second time, and appeared to retire with what seemed to be an engine failure. But, he emerged from the pits soon, albeit 2 laps down. Mark Webber, still in 9th, opted to bring forward his first stop to Lap 8, but a mistake with the front left wheel cost him 5 seconds.

Robert Kubica overtakes Jenson Button

Robert Kubica overtakes Jenson Button

On Lap 10, after some interesting battles, it was certainly a much better European Grand Prix than last year – so far. But, all of these thoughts were suddenly lost when Mark Webber had a terrifying accident, running into the back of Heikki Kovalainen, flipping the car and spearing into the barriers. Fortunately, Mark was perfectly fine, and the safety car was instantly deployed. There were shocking similarities to an earlier crash in GP2, with Josef Kral:

Even after such a horrible accident, most thoughts swiftly moved to strategy. Jenson Button was the first to pit, and got up to 4th. Kamui Kobayashi stayed out, and moved up to 3rd place. However, it was a disaster for Michael Schumacher, who pitted slightly too late, and had to wait at the red light at the end of the pit lane, dropping him to the back of the grid.

He did try and make up for the strategy slip though, by pitting again (he was already last) for the hard tyres, which should last him for the end of the race. Meanwhile, the Ferraris also suffered, with Alonso and Massa dropping to 10th and 17th.

On the restart, Fernando Alonso got past Nico Hulkenberg for 9th. Sebastian Vettel nearly allowed Hamilton past after a mistake at the final corner, but held his position, and began to move away from the McLaren again. Fernando Alonso went onto his radio, and was told that his team were complaining to Charlie Whiting, race director, about Lewis Hamilton during the safety car period. Alonso was annoyed about this, saying “It’s the only thing we can do”.

It soon emerged that Jenson Button was even slower than Kamui Kobayashi in 3rd, and he began dropping back. Meanwhile, both Mercedes drivers were being advised to back off on the brakes, as they were overheating. Then, the stewards announced that they would be investigating the incident regarding car number 2 (Lewis Hamilton) over the safety car incident, when he overtook the safety car when it was deployed, and then Fernando Alonso was stuck behind the safety car.

A few laps later, it was announced that Hamilton had received a drive-through penalty, for overtaking the safety car. He served his penalty 2 laps later, and amazingly still got out in 2nd place, just ahead of Kobayashi and Button, thanks to 2 fast laps after he was served the penalty.

He was now 15 seconds behind Vettel, because of the short pit lane not hampering his time as much as it would. After fuel saving for a few laps, he got on the pace and attempted to catch up to the Red Bull. Meanwhile, in 3rd, Kobayashi was still out, and yet to pit, having been out on the medium tyres so far.

Sebastian began to drop in pace, as all of the top 6 drivers were now faster than him. On Lap 34 out of 57, he was 12 seconds ahead of Hamilton. By now, the brake heat issue was beginning to spread, as Robert Kubica was being instructed to cool his brakes also.

With 20 laps to go, Hamilton, Kobayashi and Button approached the backmarkers of Lucas di Grassi and Bruno Senna. They were so indulged in their own battle, they didn’t notice the cars behind them. Lewis was held up for a few corners, and was understandably annoyed. But, when Kobayashi and Button approached, Senna slowed to let them past, and Di Grassi slipped past the HRT, then proceeded to smash off Senna’s front wing, giving him a puncture in the process, and holding up the Sauber and McLaren. Both backmarkers soon pitted, thanks to their childish behaviour.

Alonso, still in 9th, was now pressurising Buemi for 8th place. Sebastien locked up at the final corner, but managed to hold the Ferrari back. At the front, Vettel finally got on the pace, and began to match Hamilton’s pace. Soon after, there was good news for Alonso, as there was news that 9 cars  were under investigation for speeding during the safety car period. This would mean that Fernando might have a chance to jump up the order.

With 10 laps to go, when it seemed as if Vettel was poised to win, Hamilton dropped into the 1.39 zone, 1.7 seconds faster than Sebastian. Incredibly, Kobayashi was lapping within 1 tenth of Lewis’ time at this point. The gap was down to 7 seconds to Vettel. The next lap, Lewis went even faster, by 4 tenths of a second. Lap after lap, he chopped down the gap to the leader, until he was 6 seconds behind with 7 laps to go.

On Lap 51, Nico Hulkenberg retired, after struggling with an engine problem for much of the race, and also with delaminated tyres and bodywork. His retirement out of the points gifts Pedro de la Rosa 10th position in his home race. With 4 laps to go, Kobayashi finally pitted, and despite a slow pit stop (5.5) he emerged in 9th place. With De la Rosa in 10th, Sauber were poised for their first double points finish of the year.

Kobayashi, Buemi and Alonso were now battling for 7th position. With his brand new super-soft tyres, Kamui was the best equipped, and amazed everybody by passing Fernando Alonso with 2 laps to go, and took 8th place. Then, on the last corner of the last lap, he dived down the inside, braking late, and got past Buemi as well to finifh 7th.

Sebastian Vettel celebrates after winning the European Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel celebrates after winning the European Grand Prix

The battle for the lead never really emerged, but Sebastian Vettel crossed the line first regardless to take the win at the European Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton was a few seconds behind, followed by Button. Rubens Barrichello was completely unnoticed in his excellent drive to 4th, while Robert Kubica and Adrian Sutil were 5th and 6th respectively. Kamui Kobayashi was 7th, Buemi 8th, Alonso 9th, while Pedro de la Rosa got 10th at his home Grand Prix.

However, the stewards investigation for Barrichello, Kubica, Buemi, Button, Hulkenberg, Petrov, Sutil, Liuzzi and De la Rosa was still ongoing, so this provsional result could well massively change. If it does, then Kobayashi and Alonso are set to gain massively, but that is only if the drivers ahead of them receive time penalties.

No matter what, it was a (surprisingly) very good Grand Prix to watch, with plenty of surprises, good racing action and – shock horror – even some overtakes!

The standings have been updated, you can view them here.

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