Sebastian Vettel dominates again to win in Valencia

2011 European Grand Prix report

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2011

It was business as usual for Sebastian Vettel in the European Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver rattled off 57 laps of Valencia with apparent ease to win his sixth race of the year.

Fernando Alonso split the Red Bulls to finish second as the challenge of the McLarens faded quickly.

Vettel held his lead at the start while Webber fought to keep back the fast-starting Ferraris.

It was Felipe Massa who made the best getaway and had a look down the inside of Webber at turn two. But he backed out of the move, allowing Alonso back through into third place.

Lewis Hamilton dropped to fifth behind the pair of them, with Nico Rosberg demoting Jenson Button for sixth.

Button moves forward

Button fought back quickly, homing in on Rosberg through the DRS zones. On lap five he made a successful attack, slipping past the Mercedes at turn two.

Up ahead Alonso kept the pressure on the Red Bulls, especially Webber, who he was close enough to to use his DRS.

Hamilton was similarly close to Massa for a while before starting to fall back. He was the first of the front runners to make a pit stop, coming in on lap 11 for another set of soft tyres.

Ferrari decided to leave Alonso and Massa out for two more laps and brought Alonso in first, leaving Massa to lose a place to Hamilton.

The top three continued in the same order after their pit stops but Alonso was now even closer to Webber and took advantage of the DRS zone to pass him on lap 20.

Hamilton continued to drop back from the leading trio and made his second pit stop far earlier than his closest rivals, now focussing on keeping Massa behind for fourth. The other McLaren was in deeper trouble, Button losing his Kinetic Energy Recovery System halfway through the race.

Webber hits trouble

Having passed Webber, Alonso wasn’t able to cut into Vettel’s lead, slipping back from the Red Bull driver. At the second round of pit stops Webber jumped back in front of Alonso again but he was destined to lose the position.

Webber made his third and final pit stop earlier than Alonso, but having switched to medium tyres he wasn’t quick enough and Alonso came out of his last pit stop back in second place.

The Ferrari driver came under pressure from Webber after his last pit stop as they picked their way past the battling Kamui Kobayashi and Paul di Resta.

But Alonso held his position and comfortably took second place as Webber was instructed to short-shift due to a technical problem later in the race.

Vettel made his final pit stop and held his position. Hamilton began his last stint six laps before Massa and was bring caught by the Ferrari driver over the final stint.

Vettel’s performance advantage was more comfortable on medium tyres and he crossed the line with a ten-second lead over Alonso.

Hamilton was too far back to capitalise but stayed ahead of Massa for fourth. Button had a lonely run to sixth after his KERS problem.

Nico Rosberg took seventh after passing Jaime Alguersuari on lap 38.

Alguersuari was the highest-placed driver to make just two stops, gaining ten places from his start position to finish eighth.

Adrian Sutil and Nick Heidfeld rounded out the top ten ahead of Sergio Perez. The Sauber driver started the race on mediums and made a single stop.

Remarkably, all 24 drivers finished the race, though only the top seven finished on the lead lap.

Michael Schumacher slipped to 17th after a costly collision with Vitaly Petrov following his first pit stop, Schumacher lost his front wing and had to do a whole lap with it hanging off.

Vettel’s sixth win out of eight means his championship lead is now more than three wins’ worth of points. By salvaging third place Webber is now tied for second with Jenson Button.

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36 comments on Sebastian Vettel dominates again to win in Valencia

  1. Simon said on 26th June 2011, 15:34

    Barring a miracle, looks like both championships are all but sown up!

    Good drives by Alonso and Hamilton, who managed to outperform their cars. Vettel looks as though he’s mastered managing things from the front.

    • dennis said on 26th June 2011, 15:41

      I don’t think there was anything special about Lewis’ race. He was lucky Massa’s pit stop went wrong. And Alonso on the other hand, while driving a good race simply had a bit of a better strategy and some luck himself that Webber ran into gearbox problems and had to short-shift.

      Everybody finished where they should…

      • Todfod (@todfod) said on 27th June 2011, 9:55

        Alonso just drove better than Webber. He overtook him fair and square, but unfortunately lost that position in the pit stops. But at the next round of pit stops he got that position back. Even without the gearbox problem, I doubt Webber would have been able to overtake Alonso.

        Hamilton was just average in this race though, and I actually expected more out of him.

        • dennis (@dennis) said on 27th June 2011, 19:42

          Still, I wonder how the difference between Alonso and Webber would have been on the hard tyres. I certainly wouldn’t say Webber would have had no chance.

  2. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 26th June 2011, 15:35

    Now we’ve got that ‘most finishers’ record out of the way, let’s have some more Canada-esque races! ;)

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 26th June 2011, 16:18

      Now there is an excellent Idea Damon!

    • rubber_side_down said on 26th June 2011, 16:52

      I agree! That’s what we want to see. Button like precision that comes from behind for the win. Nothing beats that kind of win. That was an awsome drive I’ll not foget soon.
      Frankly it knocked the awesomness of viewing Jackie Stewart’s win at the old Nurburgring 1971, off the top of my list. Sorry Jackie :( , congrats Jensen :).

      Compared to Valencia today, just another step in Vettle’s amazing career I probably won’t remember in the blurr of 2011.

      And just think … he’s only 23!

      Schumi … I’m still a big fan. Old is an illusion we are forced to accept. Be like the Heron and the Frog … half way down legs kicking and hands grabbing the throat trying to swallow you. Go get em! And give us a race we won’t forget soon. You are one of the few that may catch him.

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 27th June 2011, 21:56

        Mercedes are rumored to have the most to gain relative to the front runners with the exhaust overrun ban, in that they have the least to lose. So who knows, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that we could see a Schumi or Rosberg win later this season in a chaotic race.

  3. Slr (@slr) said on 26th June 2011, 15:37

    It’s a shame Alonso could challenge Vettel. It definitely would have spiced up a fairly tedious event.

  4. I’m watching the rebroadcast now. Far too easy for Red Bull.

  5. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 26th June 2011, 15:44

    There’s nothing in this world able to fix this Valencia circuit.

    The worst thing is that they race in the summer and it’ll never ever rain…!

  6. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 26th June 2011, 16:05

    The man is scary-good. Not only will he cruise to a second World Championship, he is going to do it in such an emphatic manner – one that I never thought I would see again in the post-Ferrari/Schumacher era.

    I hate how he’s screwed up the Championship, but I can’t begrudge him or his team any of that success. He’s a great guy and a brilliant ambassador for F1. He’s not had it easy, either. He’s utterly decimated Mark (something that pains me to admit) all year. Half of it is done in qualifying, meaning he’s had the best chances to make strategy work on Sunday. And good Lord has he made it work…

    I hope he’ll have to work harder for victories in the future (not that he isn’t now), but I can’t see that happening too quickly. This sporting combo of Vettel, Horner and Newey is truly petrifying.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 26th June 2011, 16:15

      Everyone in F1 would like to win easily every race, so congratulations to Red Bull and Vettel for having reached that goal. Sadly the drivers’/teams’ wishes are different from the spectators’.

    • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 26th June 2011, 16:46

      That’s why missed opportunities like Monaco and Spain get me so angry! He’s not going to give them many chances like that this year…

    • RIISE (@riise) said on 27th June 2011, 10:02

      All we are seeing is what Schumacher did pretty much his whole career, win a race comfortably while his team mates would come 3rd, 4th, 5th and sometimes lower. Exactly what Webber is doing now. The Red Bull was equal with the Ferrari’s on race pace but Seb just found the extra tenths he needed to stay ahead.

      I think after his performances this year he is firmly in the Top 3 fastest drivers on the grid, if not THE fastest. But of course it’s hard to judge that relatively.

      If Red Bull can be an equal challenger to any team who may be at the front we might end up seeing another domination era. I, like many people doubted him with all the commonly thrown about cliches such as “Can he overtake”, “Can he hold it together under pressure” etc but he is proving to everyone how wrong they are and showing why he deserves to be the World Drivers Champion.

    • Robbie said on 27th June 2011, 14:56

      Post MS/Ferrari we did see JB dominate for the first half of the season with Brawn due to the double diffuser being deemed legal. Would be nice to see the rest of the pack get closer to SV like they did JB that year. Not holding my breath though.

  7. Nin13 (@) said on 26th June 2011, 16:12

    1st time all cars (24) managed to finish (since Italian GP 2005- all 20 cars finished), I think. This might be maximum car finishes ever, after 23 at Chinese GP this year.

    • matt88 said on 26th June 2011, 18:36

      you’re right, according to the Italian commentator it’s been the race with most finishers ever.

  8. rubber_side_down said on 26th June 2011, 16:22

    I’m no longer sure who is the better machine: the Red Bull or the man driving it.

    I see a very clear anthromorph growing; a big smiling Vettle with big rubber hands and feet, a very sleek torso, and a defing rrrrrrroarrrrrr as he passes. In the blurr, he leaves you wondering.

  9. 5alas! I cant take it any more! VETTEL MUST LOSE THE NEXT RACE.

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 26th June 2011, 16:30

      I hope so.

    • rfs said on 26th June 2011, 16:58

      But suppose he “loses the next race” and finishes 2nd to someone who isn’t Webber or Button. Then his championship lead will increase again.

      Barring a complete disaster, he’s got this in the bag.

    • matt88 said on 26th June 2011, 18:42

      77 points over Button and Webber… he could even start summer holidays tonight and he’d come back in Belgium, at the end of August, ahead of everyone. He’d probably still have a comfortable advantage over his challengers. :(

  10. F1andy83 said on 26th June 2011, 17:40

    Agreed. Sadly there isn’t a consistent second. So no matter who wins or even takes second. Vettel leads only increasens.

  11. 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 27th June 2011, 9:26

    Last year the bloke leading the championship never won a race. This year, I don’t think the bloke 2nd in the championship has come 2nd when Vettel wins yet. Says it all, no-one is making themselves the clear 2nd horse in the ‘race’ and while they trip eachother up, Vettels lead just gets bigger.
    Bit like Button in 09, neither Vettel/Rubens/Webber could put a telling run together that would’ve won them the title that year.

  12. VXR said on 27th June 2011, 9:40

    It’s in the nature of F1 that one car will usually end up being better than the rest. This has always been the case since the series started 50 years or more ago. So we shouldn’t be too surprised that it’s happening now.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 27th June 2011, 10:00

      There is always one car better than the rest… but the margin of difference is the the ‘surprise’ factor.

      • VXR said on 27th June 2011, 10:11

        I remember when the margins were much, much, much greater than they are now. And that wasn’t very long ago! I often wondered why the others ever bothered to turn up. But of course, in this game, you still get a lot of money for finishing second.

  13. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 27th June 2011, 10:12

    the drivers’ and constructors’ championships are locked up (and have been since last year) – all that remains is the formality of mathematical elimination. there is no way anyone is catching vettel and his rb7. i’m ok with that. i just want to see great action, like valencia’s gp2 race, and nothing like valencia’s f1 race.

  14. TdM said on 27th June 2011, 10:20

    From what I have seen I think that car just works better for Vettel than it does for Webber. It might be due to Webber’s size and the car is compromised due to that or his driving style just doesn’t suit it but Vettel’s extra pace cannot be simply explained away by extra driver pace in my opinion.

    That race yesterday was not even close. It looked like Ferrari and Webber were hanging on but they were on the edge of performance grilling their tyres, Vettel’s car was so much faster he was basically cruising around and had LOADS left in the tyres when people were sliding around.

    Yes people will say that it’s him looking after them and driving intelligently but seriously guys, there is some reason that his car in particular has easily .5s around that track over Webber – as I said it may have been designed around his height and Webber’s size compromises the package, that might also be why Webber has had so much more trouble with KERS. If you have that much extra pace it’s so easy to get 2s ahead of everyone and then just cruise around saving the tyres for a quick spurt before the pitstops (which is basically what he did).

    Lets hope someone is closer around Silverstone…

    In other news, Hamilton didn’t have a poor race as such he drove the wheels off it as usual but the car wasn’t quick enough so he just ended up eating tyres. He probably needs to learn to back off a bit when the car isn’t behaving as it should but meh, I’m happier for him to thrash it every second and have a race where his tyres die here and there.

    • sumedh said on 28th June 2011, 5:13

      but seriously guys, there is some reason that his car in particular has easily .5s around that track over Webber

      Yes, there is. Vettel IS better than Webber, that is the reason.

      Even when you look at 2010 season, Webber finished ahead of Vettel in only 6 of the 19 races. The only reason they were so close in points was because of Vettel’s unreliability and some mediocre wheel to wheel driving.

      Come 2011, Vettel has removed those faults from his driving while Webber has remained the same.

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