SEBASTIAN VETTEL BEATS LEWIS HAMILTON IN EUROPEAN GP
Highlights – European Grand Prix
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel beat McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to win the European Grand Prix in Valencia.
World championship leader Hamilton bounced back from a drive-through penalty, but German Vettel proved equal to the challenge.
McLaren's Jenson Button was third after escaping with a five-second penalty for an offence under the safety car.
The safety car was used after a massive crash for Mark Webber's Red Bull from which the Australian emerged unhurt.
Webber had made an early pit-stop to get himself out of traffic, after he had found himself running down in ninth place after losing places on the first lap following a poor start.
European GP – Top three drivers (UK only)
Webber was trying to pass the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen when he hit the back of the Finn's car. The Red Bull reared into the air, before crashing onto the circuit upside-down.
It flipped the right way up before Webber sledded at high speed into the tyre wall. Amazingly, he emerged unscathed.
There had already been an incident on the opening lap, as Hamilton tried to pass pole-winner Vettel for the lead at Turn Two.
The Red Bull's wheel clipped the left-front wing of the McLaren, and as a result Hamilton was suffering from a vibration during the opening stages of the race.
But the safety car, which appeared on track while marshals mopped up the debris from the Webber/Kovalainen accident, effectively allowed Hamilton to have a new nose fitted to his McLaren without losing a position.
Vettel managed to pass the pit-lane exit before the safety car emerged onto the circuit.
Webber feeling 'lucky' after big crash
The safety car then exited the pits just as Hamilton was passing. Had the Englishman continued at racing speed he would have beaten it to the white 'safety-car line', but he backed off, then illegally accelerated past the safety car a matter of feet after the line.
Hamilton then sprinted clear of the rest of the pack before following Vettel into the pits, as the timing of the safety car scuppered the prospects of Ferrari.
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were third and fourth respectively before Webber's accident. They had just passed the pit entry when the race went under caution, and were first in the queue behind the safety car before they pitted one lap later.
Button, who was in sixth position at the time of Webber's accident, was able to dive into the pits immediately the race went under caution.
That vaulted the reigning world champion to fourth, behind Vettel, Hamilton and the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi, who had elected not to pit while the race was under caution.
With Button unable to challenge Kobayashi for position, Vettel and Hamilton scorched away from the pack.
Hamilton unconcerned with Alonso's claims
Hamilton then served his drive-through penalty at the end of the 27th of 57 laps, and such was his advantage over Kobayashi that we able to rejoin without losing a place.
As well as his first-lap brush with Hamilton, Vettel survived another scare when he locked up under braking at the final turn, just as the safety car returned to the pits.
The German was particularly happy to take his second win of the season on a circuit that was not expected to suit the Red Bull.
“We didn't expect to be that strong,” said Vettel, “so it was great to be quick enough to slightly pull away, find the gap and then bring the car home.
“I had a huge lock-up of my brakes after the safety car, trying to brake as late as I could. The tyres weren't up to temperature after going round slowly, but I could stay in front.
“I tried not to push too hard and when I got the message that Lewis had the penalty I backed off a bit more.
“It's good to get a lot of points, it's good for the championship and the guys can be extremely proud – they had very little sleep but it paid off, and now we have to focus on the next one (the British Grand Prix in two weeks' time).”
Hamilton said: “At certain stages it looked like he was slowing down, so I tried to close the gap, but he was able to react to that.
“Therefore I just tried to bring the car home in one piece – there's nothing worse than getting almost the whole way through the race and then for something to happen at the end.”
Button pleased with podium finish (UK only)
Kobayashi pitted with just six laps remaining, freeing up Button, who immediately set what would be the fastest lap of the race.
Button was one of nine drivers who were penalised after the race, by the addition of five seconds to their race time, for breaching the rules when the safety car was called out.
Each was found to have completed the third sector of the track and entered the pits below the minimum time allowed under safety-car regulations.
It made no difference to the final result for the four highest-placed offenders: Button, Williams's Barrichello (who took fourth, his team's best result of the season), Renault's Robert Kubica (fifth) and Force India's Adrian Sutil (sixth).
But it provided further misery for Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi.
After his late stop, Kobayashi rejoined in ninth and, on fresh tyres, was able to pass both Alonso and Buemi (who left the door open at the final corner of the race) to take seventh.
Buemi's five-second penalty then meant he lost a further place to Alonso, who was able to gain a crucial two extra points as he was elevated to eighth.
Sauber driver Pedro de la Rosa was another to lose out. He had finished 10th on the road, but his penalty knocked him down to 12th.
It meant that Mercedes' Nico Rosberg was promoted into the points after a miserable race for the team, who suffered from severe brake problems on the cars of both Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
Others to lose places due to penalties were Renault's Vitaly Petrov, who dropped from 11th to 14th, and Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi (13th to 16th). The last of the nine, Nico Hulkenberg, retired his Williams a few laps from the finish.
European Grand Prix
RaceLast updated: 27 Jun 2010 18:49 UK
Position Country Driver Race Time
1 germany S Vettel http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/drivers_and_teams/8546053.stm 1:40:29.571
2 great britain L Hamilton http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/drivers_and_teams/8545628.stm 1:40:34.613
3 great britain J Button http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8545614.stm 1:40:42.229
4 brazil R Barrichello http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8546199.stm 1:40:55.198
5 poland R Kubica http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/drivers_and_teams/8546965.stm 1:40:56.693
6 germany A Sutil http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/drivers_and_teams/8547175.stm 1:40:59.739
7 japan K Kobayashi http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/drivers_and_teams/8546155.stm 1:41:00.536
8 spain F Alonso http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/drivers_and_teams/8546103.stm 1:41:02.380
9 switzerland S Buemi http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/drivers_and_teams/8547359.stm 1:41:05.870
10 germany N Rosberg http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/drivers_and_teams/8545708.stm 1:41:13.953
Full results tables http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/results/default.stm