Formula 1 News

Vettel edges Hamilton in Spanish thriller

The German was able to hold Hamilton's attack for more than 10 laps. Button in 3rd.
Sunday, May 22, 2011

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BARCELONA, Spain, May 22, 2011 (AFP) - Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel drove his Red Bull to a narrow and dramatic victory ahead of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in the Spanish Grand Prix here on Sunday.

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The 23-year-old German used his natural speed and clever strategy to steal the lead after starting second behind team-mate Mark Webber, resisted all that 2008 champion Hamilton could throw at him in the closing stages of the 66-lap
contest.

After a thrilling duel, Vettel finished six-tenths of a second ahead of the 26-year-old Briton to reel off his fourth win in five races this season - his 13th career win - and extend his lead in the drivers' world championship.

It was the first time that a driver, who did not start from pole, had won the Spanish Grand Prix in 11 years.

Hamilton came home second ahead of his McLaren team-mate and fellow-Englishman Jenson Briton who finished third ahead of Webber, who had started from pole, and fifth-placed two-times champion Fernando Alonso.

"I am happy with that, so happy," said Vettel. "It was very close. I could see Lewis there, he was so close and this was not easy. McLaren and Lewis gave us such a hard time and that's why it feels so good to win this race."

Hamilton professed himself content with the performance."I am happy enough," he said. "It was a great race and the team did a fantastic job to get us up there after not such a great start. But the Red Bulls have so much speed and so much down-force in the high speed corners."

Webber, though, was disappointed after another frustrating result."It wasn't the start I planned for as I had Fernando (Alonso) on the inside and Seb on the outside. There wasn't much I could do after that and it was just a game of chess with the strategy."

Alonso gave his home crowd plenty to cheer with a wonderful start and great charge for Ferrari in the early stages, but could not live with the leaders in the second half of the 66-laps contest.

"It was great at the start for me, but to finish fifth is the reality of things," said Alonso.

Seven-times champion Michael Schumacher, 42, bounced back from his dismal race in Turkey by finishing sixth for Mercedes ahead of his team-mate German Nico Rosberg, another German Nick Heidfeld of Renault and the two Sauber
drivers Mexican Sergio Perez and Japanese Kamui Kobayashi.

Vettel now has 118 points and leads Hamilton, on 77 points by 41 points while in the constructors standings Red Bull have 185 points to McLaren on 138. "A great drive Seb, fantastic, a brilliant job," said Red Bull team chief Christian Horner to Vettel on the slowing down lap. "Yabbadabbadoooo!" replied the driver, his youthful enthusiasm shining through.

Vettel and Hamilton had exchanged the lead throughout the race as each pit-stopped several times.The German made his third stop after 32 laps to go on hards. This gave Hamilton the lead again before he did the same three laps later and rejoined second, cutting the gap to little more than a second with 20 laps remaining and Button third, 22 seconds -- or a fast pit stop -- adrift.

The leading duo then pitted again after 48 and 49 laps and Hamilton staying just over a second behind with Button 30 seconds behind in third, chased by Webber, as they went into the final 10 laps.

Hamilton soon cut Vettel's lead to half a second and began hunting a passing move with the aid of his Kinetic Energy Regeneration System (KERS) and the Drag Reduction System (DRS).

Hamilton's McLaren appeared to have the superior pace in these final laps, but not the edge, or opportunity, to overtake the leader who was using all his skills to stay in front.

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Pos Grid Pts Driver Team Laps Time/Ret.
1 2 25 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 66 Winner
2 3 18 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 66 +0.6 secs
3 5 15 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 66 +35.6 secs
4 1 12 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 66 +47.9 secs
5 4 10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 65 +1 Lap
6 10 8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 65 +1 Lap
7 7 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 65 +1 Lap
8 24 4 Nick Heidfeld Renault 65 +1 Lap
9 12 2 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 65 +1 Lap
10 14 1 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 65 +1 Lap
11 6 Vitaly Petrov Renault 65 +1 Lap
12 16 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 65 +1 Lap
13 17 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 65 +1 Lap
14 11 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 65 +1 Lap
15 9 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 65 +1 Lap
16 13 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 64 +2 Laps
17 19 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 64 +2 Laps
18 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 64 +2 Laps
19 20 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 63 +3 Laps
20 23 Jerome d'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 62 +4 Laps
21 22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 61 +5 Laps
Ret 8 Felipe Massa Ferrari 58 +8 Laps
Ret 15 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 48 Accident
Ret 21 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 28 +38 Laps


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