Vettel resists Hamilton to win in Spain

2011 Spanish Grand Prix report

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Barcelona, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Barcelona, 2011

Sebastian Vettel clinched his fourth win out of five this year at the Circuit de Catalunya.

But it wasn’t as straightforward as his other wins as he had to cope with a faulty Kinetic Energy Recovery System and sustained pressure from Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel made a good start from second and passed pole sitter Mark Webber around the outside at the first corner.

But Fernando Alonso made an exeptional getaway from fourth place and dived past both Red Bulls to lead, to a roar of approval from the Spanish crowd.

Alonso held the lead but couldn’t leave the chasing Red Bulls and Hamilton’s McLaren behind – the leaders remained covered by a couple of seconds.

Vettel made an early first pit stop on lap eight to try to get ahead but Alonso reacted on the next lap, as did Webber. While Vettel picked off the likes of Jenson Button and Felipe Massa, Alonso stayed ahead.

Hamilton delayed his stop by another lap and came out in third ahead of Webber.

Vettel came in early for his second stop as well – heading for pit lane on the 18th lap – and Alonso stayed out, resigning himself to losing the lead. He also dropped behind Hamilton.

That left Vettel and Hamilton in a battle for the lead, and the McLaren driver was able to cut into the Red Bull driver’s lead. Radio messages between Vettel and his team revealed he was having to turn KERS off at times, and reactivate it later.

That allowed Hamilton to use the Drag Reduction System to close in on Vettel on the main straight, but couldn’t get close enough to try to pass. The RB7 was clearly faster than the MP4-26 through the faster corners on the Circuit de Catalunya.

With Vettel unable to back off, every driver bar the two McLarens and Red Bulls were lapped – even Alonso, who had led to begin with.

Button recovered from a poor start during which he fell to tenth place. He took Sebastien Buemi on lap three and later took Massa as well.

Once again he ran one fewer pit stop than most of his rivals and was able to stay of soft tyres for longer. He breezed past Webber and Alonso on lap 35 to take third.

Alonso made an early fourth pit stop for a second set of hard tyres but that couldn’t stem the huge amount of time he was losing to the leaders. It handed fourth to Webber who closed in on Button, but dropped off the pace at the end.

The two Mercedes were sixth and seventh, Nico Rosberg spend most of the race stuck behind Michael Schumacher, who made a very strong start.

Nick Heidfeld recovered from starting last by getting his hard tyre stint out of the way early on, then using his three fresh sets of soft tyres to carve through the field.

He passed Sergio Perez and Massa to take eighth and had just caught the Mercedes when the race finished.

Massa retired in the gravel trap at turn seven shortly after Heidfeld passed him. He’d struggled during the race and spun at turn ten shortly after putting hard tyres on.

Kamui Kobayashi in the other Sauber rounded off the points finishers – both drivers used hard tyres for their second stints and ended the race on softs.

Vitaly Petrov finished out of the points in 11th. Behind him were the two Force Indias, led again by Paul di Resta.

Having started in the top ten Pastor Maldonado could only finish 15th, two places ahead of his team mate with Jaime Alguersuari in between.

Jarno Trulli was the only Lotus to finish. Team mate Heikki Kovalainen crashed out on lap 48 and four drivers were later penalised for failing to slow under the resulting yellow flags.

The two Virgins and Narain Karthikeyan’s HRT were the final finishers.

Another victory for Vettel gives him a 41-point lead in the drivers championship over Hamilton, who is the only driver to finish a race ahead of him this year.

2011 Spanish Grand Prix

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99 comments on Vettel resists Hamilton to win in Spain

  1. M Sakr said on 22nd May 2011, 21:01

    Can you guys believe, that since the start of the season, we did not have 1 single safety car outing??? Pretty spectacular to me! This will change in Monaco surely.. I think!!

    • Gaston said on 22nd May 2011, 22:20

      Yeah, pretty remarkable. I’ve been wondering for quite a while if this is a record.

      • Himmat S. said on 23rd May 2011, 11:42

        It sure is. The cars are more durable than ever. Tracks are wider than ever. Drivers who use their heads more than ever.

  2. Paul said on 22nd May 2011, 22:32

    I bet Ferarri and Mercedes are worried as the Redbulls and Mclarens lapped the whole grid.

  3. F1fan55 said on 22nd May 2011, 23:05

    Mark Webber was unlucky today- had Alonso’s start not been so fantastic, Mark would have lead at the first corner- but Alonso came down the inside and forced Webber to not cut in at the apex- and this allowed Vettel to just drive past him due to his track position.

    From there, Vettel had track position and pit stop priority, and from there Webber could do nothing, least of all was getting past Alonso, with no straight line speed.

    So, good drive from Vettel today, but Webber lost a big chance, and wasn’t at all terrible.

  4. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 23rd May 2011, 2:45

    Webber trying to defend Vettel lost not only to Vettel but also to Alonso.He was awesome at the start but a shame that Ferrari couldn’t do a better job with him.Hamilton drove to his limit but a great performance from Button & Heidfeld. But what happened to Petrov how can having a good performance in the quali made him loose so many position? Both Mercedes was good I hope Schumacher gets his joy of racing soon after this race.The last few laps were awesome between two of the giants in F1,once again Webber is proving very venerable.

  5. Damon said on 23rd May 2011, 12:34

    I think jenson let’s vettel through easily because he doesn’t want Lewis to win lol. On another note, see how mclaren compromised Hamilton on his last stop by bringing button in first when hamiltons tyres had gone off dropping him further back from vettel

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