If there were any doubts about who would win this year’s F1 Championship after the last race in Canada, Sebastian Vettel silenced them with a comprehensive victory at the European Grand Prix in Valencia.
Two weeks ago Vettel appeared to wobble under pressure when McLaren’s Jensen Button snatched victory in the last lap of the race to deny the young German the chequered flag, and it was always going to be interesting to see how the young German would respond.
And respond he did, leading for almost all the race, and this time making no mistakes to secure his sixth win out of eight this season, with Canada now just a distant memory and a blip for 2011.
And his win was made even sweeter as it wasn’t Jensen Button who beat him last time, or teammate Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren’s who took second place, but Fernando Alonso racing in front of his home fans in a Ferrari who came closest to upsetting the day for Vettel.
Valencia added to the poor run of form for Lewis Hamilton, who failed to finish in Canada after a shunt with his McLaren fellow driver Button, and Hamilton had also had an incident at the preceeding Monaco Grand Prix.
Perhaps aware that his lead in the F1 Championship might be making 2011 look like a procession, Vettel commented after the race:
‘Maybe from the outside it looked like a boring race, but I enjoyed it so much,’ adding that he had some pressure from Fernando Alonso and Australian Mark Webber and that even though he had a lead before the final pit stop they were still pretty close behind him.
He also said that he was pushing hard, having to judge the tyres, but for some reason he enjoyed the track although it wasn’t particularly in Red Bull’s favour, and that overall he had a good race – considering he won an understatement!
It was also a good day for Fernando Alonso, who hasn’t just had to compete to get on the podium this year with the Red Bulls in his Ferrari, but the McLarens who up to Valencia appeared to be the main challengers. He is now just ten points behind Lewis Hamilton and after the race commented:
“In the pits, they did a good job to overtake us and then my team did a good strategy to get us back in front.’
He concluded by saying that in the end he thought that coming second was realistically the best he could hope for, but that he and Ferrari were heading in the right direction to be able to challenge Red Bull for the remainder of the Grand Prix season and that he and the team were constantly working to improve.
The next race in the F1 season is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. McLaren drivers Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton will have extra motivation to secure a win in front of their home fans, and Alonso will want to show that Ferrari’s second place in Valencia wasn’t a fluke.
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