Untouchable Vettel romps to Silverstone victory (British Grand Prix review)

Sebastian Vettel scored his second win of 2009

Sebastian Vettel scored his second win of 2009

Sebastian Vettel obliterated his rivals at Silverstone, leading team mate Mark Webber home in a one-two finish for the rampant Red Bulls.

Jenson Button was unable to deliver the result the home crowd wanted – he slumped to his worst finish of the year, sixth, which was no better than where he qualified.

Bad start for Button

In the run-up to the race the Brawn team were talking about how warm weather and sunshine was what their car needed. They didn’t get it.

Vettel took off from pole position at a blistering pace. With Webber third, bottled up behind Barrichello, the leader left the rest of the field behind at over a second per lap.

Meanwhile Button’s race started slowly. It was nothing like as bad as his team mate’s start at Istanbul, the Briton losing only three places, but that left him ninth.

He quickly set about working on Felipe Massa’s Ferrari, relieving the Brazilian of eighth position on the second lap. But that left him stuck behind Jarno Trulli, and the Toyota proved a much tougher prospect. Not only did Button fail to find a way past Trulli, but the pair came in for their first pit stops together, and left the pits in the same order as well.

Webber sets up Red Bull one-two

Further ahead, Vettel’s heavier fuel load meant that by the time he came in for his pit stop all his nearest rivals had been and gone. He didn’t lose the lead at his first pit stop and returned to the track just ahead of Massa, who was running a long first stint having started 11th.

A significant change of position had occurred a little further back. Despite running a short first stint he was able to jump ahead of Barrichello and take second, but even one-third of the way into the race his prospects of catching his team mate looked remote.

Raikkonen also got himself back ahead of Button via the first pit stops, but with six laps’ less fuel on board was doomed to lose the position again later.

Hamilton struggles at home

The other British driver had made little progress from his starting position of 19th, and spent his first stint stuck behind the more heavily-fuelled Robert Kubica. McLaren had once again banked on a light-fuel strategy giving Hamilton a chance to make up places but either the MP4-24 or the driver lacked the wherewithal to do it (probably the former).

Hamilton spent the middle part of the race doing battle with the Renaults. Eventually the more heavily-fuelled sister McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen made his pit stop and returned to the track in front of Hamilton.

In a repeat of last year (though not in competition for the lead of the race) Hamilton slotted down the inside of Kovalainen at Stowe. Sebastien Bourdais now embarked on an over-optimistic lunge to pass at Vale, succeeding only in removing his own front wing and damaging Kovalainen’s car. Both limped back to the pits, resumed racing, and then returned once more to the pits and retirement.

This was the only dramatic point in an otherwise processional affair. Button found good pace on his final set of tyres and reeled in fifth-placed Nico Rosberg at over a second per lap. But once he got within a second of the Williams he couldn’t find any way of getting close enough to mount a challenge.

Massa climbs to fourth

Webber’s long second stint meant he was at least able to lead a few laps, thus denying his team mate the ultimate result of a win from pole position with fastest lap and leading every lap. But the dominance of Vettel’s victory cannot be under-stated: it was an emphatic, crushing drive, and if he’s got a few more of those up his sleeve this championship isn’t over by a long shot.

The finishing order made it clear that a long first stint was the way to go: Massa finished fourth after starting 11th, while Kazuki Nakajima ended the race 11th having started a lightly-fuelled fifth.

Trulli and Raikkonen rounded out the points finishers with Timo Glock ninth and Giancarlo Fisichella making the top ten, once again demonstrating Force India’s progress.

Nelson Piquet Jnr, 11th, made a rare finish ahead of team mate Fernando Alonso, with Robert Kubica’s BMW sandwiched between the two. Behind Nick Heidfeld’s BMW was the first of the McLarens, Lewis Hamilton, a miserable 16th, the team point-less for a fourth consecutive race. Adrian Sutil was the last finisher, having started from the pit lane after his qualifying crash.

Vettel’s win sets him up for his home race in three weeks’ time. Another performance like this and the championship many had written off will be alive once again.

Driver of the day

My driver of the day was Sebastian Vettel. It may seem a bit obvious to pick the pole sitter and race winner but he stamped his authority on this race from the word go. Not only did he blow his rivals away, but he sent a message to his own team that he, and not Mark Webber, is the driver to back for the championship.

But an honourable mention must go to Felipe Massa, who turned a poor starting position into an excellent finish.

Who was your driver of the day?

Read more: Rate the race: British Grand Prix

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46 comments on Untouchable Vettel romps to Silverstone victory (British Grand Prix review)

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  1. martinb said on 21st June 2009, 16:42

    Fisichella deserves a mention. Started 16th, finished 10th. But Vettel put in an awesome drive. A worthy driver of the day.

  2. Mahir C said on 21st June 2009, 16:43

    I think Fisichella should get a honorable mention as well. He beat Nakajima from 16th on the grid.

  3. pSynrg said on 21st June 2009, 16:48

    Yep, Vettel without a doubt and agree with the Fisi observation above. Would have loved a point for Force India too.
    I think Massa is generally driving really well given the obvious problems with the car. 4th was certainly at least one better than he probably thought possible.

    I’d like to give a shout for Lewis too – he was constantly over driving that McLaren and I guess he was just trying to put on the best show he could for the home fans knowing it would always be for nothing. I didn’t get that vibe from Jenson a bit too much of the points game creeping in…

    • TommyB said on 21st June 2009, 16:50

      Agreed Hamilton put on a great show in a useless McLaren.

      The donuts he did at the end were a nice touch too.

  4. TommyB said on 21st June 2009, 16:49

    Fisichella did fantastic. Shame Force India still haven’t got a point.

    Button really didn’t look anything special – he seemed to not be bothered about the race right from the start because he knew he couldn’t win.

    Vettel was just brilliant today and really silenced the critics.

    • matt said on 21st June 2009, 17:00

      Yeah Vettel was best. Button was definately bothered though, he sounded pretty angry on the radio that he was so slow.

  5. Driver of the day: Fisico.

    He made a double overtaking in Alonso and Heidfeld in 5th lap… I think it is the pass of the year so far…

    • David A said on 21st June 2009, 20:33

      Agreed, he made that pass on Heidfeld, who made similar passes TWICE in last year’s race.

  6. adaptalis said on 21st June 2009, 17:08

    Fisichella definitely. That pass on the two cars (was it Alonso and Heidfeld?) who ran wide was well timed. If that didn’t happen, he would be scrapping with the BMWs too.

    Was rooting for Force India to get a point, but looks like all the cars are superb on reliability. Gone are the days where you see engine blowing up on track.

  7. Brian said on 21st June 2009, 17:16

    Yes! I was hoping for a 1 – 2 finish. I said it would happen and it did. That just gave me a bunch of points in my pool.
    I was really impressed with Nakajima at certain points. I was hoping he would finish better than what he did, but at least he didn’t spin out or crash.

  8. rfs said on 21st June 2009, 17:29

    Let’s hope Vettel can make this championship interesting again.

  9. F1Yankee said on 21st June 2009, 17:54

    still waiting another 2 hours for the american broadcast. meanwhile, they’re playing nonstop infomercials. fox/speed already does a poor job as broadcaster, so i’m having serious doubts about next year’s coverage.

    • F1Yankee said on 22nd June 2009, 4:52

      i just watched the bbc show – another excellent production. a generous nap spared me from too much legard.

  10. F1Fan said on 21st June 2009, 18:08

    Massa is my driver of the day. I didn’t think he would fare well, but w/ a good strategy and steady pace he did it.

  11. rayan said on 21st June 2009, 19:00

    massa is my driver of the day.although F60 is not performing this year,massa made it a lot of times,especially todays 4th is fantastic.

  12. rayan said on 21st June 2009, 19:07

    everydody knows ferraris F60 is worse in hard tyres,so the strategy which was followed today,i mean using the hard tyres in the last 13 or 12 laps is the best thing to get a good result.yet an another couple of laps more in the second stint would have brought massa to 3rd.

    • Senor Paz said on 23rd June 2009, 0:54

      That’s exactly what I was thinking.

      Felipe came back out for his second stint with quite a gap to next car. Ferrari could have easily put a few more laps of fuel in and, with hindsight, Felipe probably would have snatched 3rd in the second round of pitstops from Rubens – he stopped only two laps after.

      Easy to say after the race is over though. This time Ferrari is not to blame.

  13. maksf1 said on 21st June 2009, 19:16

    Absolutely agree – Seb and Felipe was superb today!
    Also want to point Haidfeld as Anti-hero. He ruined race for four rivals when there was nothing to gain for himself after start collision.

  14. Owen G said on 21st June 2009, 20:46

    I agree with most, you can’t look past Vettel for driver of the day. Some good work by Fisi and some good scraps lower down the field but Vettel was in a class of his own.

    As I’ve said on another article, what remains is for Vettel to win from further back, rather than having a free run from pole position, to fully silence his critics. We all know he’s extremely quick, but on occasion he hasn’t shown good race craft.

    Button’s start was massively compromised by Trulli. He actually got off the line well, but was blocked by a slow starting Trulli which cost him a few places. Which is a shame because I could have done with some more prediction points!

  15. Vettel was unstoppable. I filmed the cars on lap 11, even that early on his lead was massive, and he wasn’t short of lapping the back markers!

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