Vettel wins dramatic and controversial GP

Sebastian Vettel held off a challenge from Lewis Hamilton at the start of the European Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel held off a challenge from Lewis Hamilton at the start of the European Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has won a dramatic and controversial European Grand Prix at the Valencia street circuit.

Vettel led home McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, while Australian driver Mark Webber made headlines of his own, flipping his Red Bull Racing car after a clash with Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus near the braking zone on the approach to turn 12. Webber emerged from the incident unscathed.

After a poor start to the race where he slipped from second to ninth, Webber had just completed his first pit stop and caught Kovalainen quickly who attempted to defend his race position. Webber’s Red Bull smashed into the back of the Lotus, launching Webber’s car vertical before landing on its roll hoop, flipping back onto its wheels and smashing into the tyre barrier (see video below).

Vettel led from the start, only ever threatened at the second turn when Lewis Hamilton made a great launch from position three to be up the inside of Vettel. The pair slightly toughed, damaging Hamilton’s wing end plate, but both continued. It is Vettel’s seventh Grand Prix victory and has vaulted him from fifth to third in the championship.

Beside’s Webber’s incident, the controversy of the race came during the Safety Car period caused by the Webber/ Kovalainen clash. Hamilton momentarily baulked as he saw the Safety Car come onto the track, holding up Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. The slight gaffe was enough for the Ferrari men to fall from third and fourth to well down the order.

Hamilton was handed a drive-through penalty for the incident, but because Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi had decided not to pit during the Saftey Car period, Hamilton was able to affect his penalty without losing a position.

More controversy surfaced when the stewards announced that nine cars will be investigated post-race for allegedly traveling too fast under the Safety Car conditions. The nine drivers include Jenson Button, Robert Kubica, Rubens Barichello and Adrian Sutil – all of whom finished in front of Kobayashi.

Kobayashi passed Alonso and Sebastien Buemi on the last two laps to finish seventh after he put on his super soft tyres during his late pit stop. And his pass on Alonso was crucial – if the four drivers in front of him are penalised, Kobayashi might get a belated podium finish …

The next round of the Formula One World Championship heads to Silverstone in two weeks time.

Click below for race highlights …

European Grand Prix results

Pos Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid
1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 57 Winner 1
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 57 +5.0 secs 3
3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 57 +7.6 secs 7
4 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 57 +20.6 secs 9
5 Robert Kubica Renault 57 +22.1 secs 6
6 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 57 +25.1 secs 13
7 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 57 +30.9 secs 18
8 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 57 +31.2 secs 11
9 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 57 +32.8 secs 4
10 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari 57 +42.4 secs 16
11 Vitaly Petrov Renault 57 +43.2 secs 10
12 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 57 +44.3 secs 12
13 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 57 +45.8 secs 14
14 Felipe Massa Ferrari 57 +46.6 secs 5
15 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 57 +48.2 secs 17
16 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 57 +48.8 secs 15
17 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 56 +1 Lap 21
18 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 55 +2 Laps 22
19 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 55 +2 Laps 23
20 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 55 +2 Laps 24
21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 53 +4 Laps 19
Ret Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 49 +8 Laps 8
Ret Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 8 Accident damage 20
Ret Mark Webber RBR-Renault 8 Accident 2

World Championship points

1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 127
2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 121
3 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 115
4 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 103
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 96
6 Robert Kubica Renault 83
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 74
8 Felipe Massa Ferrari 67
9 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 34
10 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 31
11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 19
12 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 12
13 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 9
14 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 7
15 Vitaly Petrov Renault 6
16 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 3
17 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1
18 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 0
20 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 0
21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 0
22 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 0
23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 0
24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 0

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