Vettel maintains dominance with European GP victory
Runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull secured his sixth win of the 2011 Formula One season Sunday with a comfortable victory from pole in the European Grand Prix, dpa reported.
Vettel held off the challenges of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber to register his second victory in succession at the Valencia street circuit and also extend his lead in the overall standings.
The 23-year-old German has now amassed 186 points from eight races, 77 clear of McLaren's Jenson Button and Webber.
"Maybe from the outside it looked like a boring race," said Vettel. "We managed to put everything together, faultless this weekend. I'm very happy with the result."
Alonso, meanwhile, was delighted to split the two Red Bulls on his way to second place.
"Being here between the Red Bull cars is a great achievement for the team," he said. "We are definitely moving in the right direction of trying to get closer to these guys."
Lewis Hamilton took fourth place after a poor start, followed by Ferrari's Felipe Massa, Button and Nico Rosberg of Mercedes.
Starting from pole for the seventh time this year, Vettel never looked back after staying ahead of Webber going into the first corner while Hamilton started cautiously from third, dropping behind the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa.
Hamilton was the first of the leaders to pit on lap 13 and snatched back fourth spot three laps later when Massa came out behind the Briton following after his pit-stop.
Alonso, meanwhile, was clearly quicker than second-placed Webber during his second stint and the Spaniard eventually passed the Red Bull driver at Turn 12 on lap 21.
However, the Ferrari driver was unable to close the gap on Vettel, who continued to maintain a steady three-second lead at the front of the field.
Hamilton pitted on lap 25, returning in seventh spot while Webber made his second stop of the race four laps later, coming back in fourth with a clear track in front of him.
Alonso pitted on lap 30 in an effort to avoid upcoming traffic but the tactic backfired as he returned to find himself behind Webber once again. Vettel had no such problems, coming in a lap later and retaining top spot.
The top three cars remained within approximately six seconds of each other while fifth-placed Massa began closing down Hamilton in fourth by around one second a lap.
Webber came in on lap 43 for his final stop but the Australian was held up by Vitaly Petrov and Rubens Barrichello on his return, allowing Alonso to reclaim second place after his stop three laps later.
"I was very happy with how the race was going until the last stop. It was my fault," admitted Webber. "It was nip and tuck all the way to the end."
Vettel held a nine-second lead over Alonso after his third visit to the pits and maintained that gap over the remaining 10 laps to continue his total dominance this season.
The win also made up for the recent disappointment of being passed on the final lap of the Canadian Grand Prix by Button.
However, the German was also keeping his feet firmly on the ground despite his superb start to the season.
"I don't look at the gap, it's a long season," he said. "It's still a long way, at the moment we are overjoyed.