Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel wins European GP from pole position

By Guy Hedgecoe, AP
Sunday, June 27, 2010

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel wins European GP

VALENCIA, Spain — Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel won the European Grand Prix on Sunday, dominating from the pole in a race marked by teammate Mark Webber’s spectacular crash and Fernando Alonso’s claim that the results had been “manipulated.”

Vettel won his second grand prix of the season, completing 57 laps of the Valencia street circuit ahead of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

Webber emerged unhurt after his car went airborne early in the race following a collision with Heikki Kovalainen.

“The most important fact is that Mark is fine,” Vettel said. “On days like this you get reminded that still the speeds are extremely high and, if something goes wrong, it can go terribly wrong, so I think the most important thing is that he’s fine.”

The crash led to the appearance of the safety car and a controversy involving Hamilton that drew Alonso’s ire.

“We were running well, in third after a good start,” the Spaniard said. “Then the safety car came out, which wasn’t too good for us, but Hamilton overtook the safety car, something that I had never seen, overtaking the medical car with yellow flags. We were a meter off each other, and he finished second and I finished ninth.”

Hamilton had to take a drive-through penalty in pit lane for passing the safety car, but managed to finish second in Valencia for the third time.

Alonso finished ninth after starting fourth on the grid. He was moved up to eighth after a stewards’ inquiry gave time penalties to 10 drivers. That didn’t diminish his anger over the handling of the safety car issue.

“This race was to finish second,” the Ferrari driver said. “Then with the safety car I would have finished where I finished in ninth, and Hamilton in eighth. But here, when you do the normal thing, which is respecting the rules, you finish ninth, and the one who doesn’t respect them finishes second.

“It’s a shame, not for us because this is racing, but for all the fans who came here to watch a manipulated race.”

His Ferrari team was equally indignant, saying on its website: “A scandal, that’s the opinion of so many fans and employees who are all in agreement: there is no other way to describe what happened during the European Grand Prix.”

Hamilton leads the standings with 127 points, ahead of defending champion Button on 121. Vettel jumped two places to third with 115. Webber is fourth with 103, while Alonso is fifth on 98 points.

The result consolidates McLaren’s lead at the top of the constructors’ championship with 248 points, ahead of Red Bull on 218.

“I took my penalty — it’s quite a long time to spend at 60kmh in the pit lane — and I came out second,” Hamilton said in a statement. ” … I don’t see how that’s unfair — it’s racing, and those are the rules, and we all have to accept them.”

Rubens Barrichello of Williams, who won at Valencia last year, finished fourth and Renault’s Robert Kubica was fifth.

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, who has six European Grand Prix wins, had his worst race of the season, finishing 16th after starting 15th. Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg was 12th. Schumacher moved up to 15th following the stewards’ inquiry.

Track temperatures reached 113 degrees as the third Grand Prix held in Valencia got under way on the harbor site built for the 2007 America’s Cup.

A poor start by Webber saw him drop down the field to ninth by the third lap.

The Australian’s race ended six laps later when he hit Kovalainen while trying to work his way back up the field. Webber’s Red Bull was sent somersaulting through the air before crashing into the street circuit’s tire barrier at high speed.

The front section of the car came away from the chassis and there was substantial damage to the Lotus, although the driver stepped out of the car unhurt.

Kovalainen also retired from the race due to the damage to his car.

When the race resumed, Vettel was comfortably in the lead and Hamilton was trying to close the gap.

Alonso was unhappy that Hamilton’s penalty was not more severe in what turned into a disappointing day for Ferrari. Both its drivers lost places from where they started on the grid, despite the team introducing some much-hyped improvements to their cars for the race. Massa finished 14th.

The stewards’ inquiry gave five-second penalties for exceeding the safety car-in lap time to Button, Barrichello, Nico Hulkenberg, Robert Kubica, Vitaly Petrov, Adrian Sutil, Sebastien Buemi, Pedro de la Rosa and Tonio Liuzzi.

The stewards also handed a 20-second penalty to Virgin’s Timo Glock for ignoring blue flags.

The next race is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 11.

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