Vettel and Red Bull dominate British GP

23465 1 thumbnail 750x550 page1 77199Vettel and Red Bull flawless at Silverstone as Button tumbles.

Sebastian Vettel breezed to victory in the British Grand Prix heading teammate Mark Webber to claim Red Bull’s second 1-2 finish of the season, while home favourite Jenson Button trailed home in sixth place.

Vettel dominated the race from pole position setting a searing pace behind the wheel of his Red Bull car which featured major improvements for this race to claim his second win of the season.

“I enjoyed this race so much when I looked in the grandstands everyone was standing up and clapping and when I took the chequered flag the atmosphere was so great,” exulted the 19-year-old afterwards.

“This is what I was dreaming of when I watched British grands prix when I was younger when Mansell was driving. It’s almost unreal now to think that I’m here and I’ve made it. I’ve won this grand prix and I’m very happy.”

“The way the team has brought the car to where it is now is fantastic and we’ve proven it’s a step in the right direction, so I’m very pleased.”

The victory keeps Vettel very much in the frame for this year’s title and although Jenson Button retains a healthy championship lead of 25 points, the pace of the Vettel-Red Bull package will no doubt be playing on the Briton’s mind as the Formula One circus heads into a critical second phase of the season.

Mark Webber consolidated the result for Red Bull by using the sheer pace of the significantly revised RB5 to leapfrog Rubens Barrichello at the first round of pit stops.

“I’m disappointed not to take the win, but I think I lost my chance for victory yesterday during qualifying,” rued the Aussie, who is still sporting pieces of metal in his leg after his cycling accident at the beginning of the season.

“I should have been on the front row and, if so, I would have tried to make Sebastian work a bit harder in the first stint when I was behind Rubens. I saved a lot of fuel in the first stint, which meant we were able to jump Rubens at the first pit stop.”

The 120,000 sell-out capacity crowd took delight in Vettel’s victory and the auspicious form of Milton-Keynes based outfit Red Bull, but it wasn’t quite the result they had hoped for as British hopefuls Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton battled to save face in front of their legions of supporters.

Button dropped to eighth from sixth on the grid at the start and was unable to make an impression on the leaders as he wrestled with an understeering car which was bottoming-out on the straights. A long middle stint enabled him to salvage sixth place and pick up vital championship points, but he will be all to aware of the threat now posed to his lead by Sebastian Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton meanwhile spent most of the race entrenched in a mid-field battle with the BMW Sauber drivers and Fernando Alonso, a stark reminder of just how much the new rules have mixed up the pecking order this year. A spin in the closing stages saw him limp home in sixteenth place.

“I gave it my all today,” said Hamilton. “Despite fighting for the lower positions, I was absolutely on the limit for the whole race. We knew it would be difficult, and I enjoyed my battle with Fernando, but we didn t have the pace today to get into the points.”

“The best thing about this weekend has been the fans: they really gave me some consolation by cheering me on throughout the race. I would love to have given them a result to make them happy and my country proud, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us before that will be realistic.”

Ferrari’s Felipe made up for his embarrassing performance last year in the wet by climbing to fourth place from eleventh courtesy of a long middle stint, while Williams’ Nico Rosberg, who also carried more fuel in the early stages vaulted up to fifth place.

Jarno Trulli was seventh for Toyota behind Button with Kimi Raikkonen picking up the final points paying position for Ferrari.

Heikki Kovalainen and Sebastian Bourdais were the only retirements in what was a relatively incident-free race. Kovalainen was dicing with Bourdais on the short straight between Stowe and Club and as the McLaren driver swept across to try and take the racing line Bourdais ploughed into the back of him. The pair were both forced into retirement.

“Bourdais just ran into the back of me and damaged the left-rear corner,” explained Kovalainen. “I had to stop because the damage had made the car undriveable: we decided to retire for safety reasons.”

How the race unfolded…

Vettel, the heaviest of the front-runners, was vulnerable to a charging Rubens Barrichello at the start, but the Red Bull driver held his nerve into the perilously fast Copse corner to keep the Brazilian at bay, while Webber slotted in behind.

Jenson Button was the biggest loser off the startline dropping to ninth place behind Jarno Trulli who also had a poor getaway from fourth on the grid. Kimi Raikkonen meanwhile put Ferrari in the mix by vaulting up to fifth place.

From the moment the post-qualifying fuel weights confirmed the superiority of the Vettel-Red Bull package, the British Grand Prix was always going to be Vettel’s to lose. Despite carrying the extra weight Vettel quickly asserted his dominance setting a succession of fastest laps and building up a twenty second cushion over the chasing pack by the time of his first pit stop.

“The start was very important, then in the first stint I tried to pull away and make a gap, as I knew it would be crucial for the whole race,” Vettel recounted. “The car was fantastic, just unbelievable. I was able to push more and more and the tyres were very consistent.”

The best Brawn GP could hope for was second place and even that was looking unlikely with Rubens Barrichello running lighter than Mark Webber.

It wasn’t long before Red Bull took command of the race as Mark Webber, who was carrying an extra lap of fuel over Barrichello, nosed ahead of the Brazilian at the first round of pit stops.

Jenson Button meanwhile was struggling with severe understeer and was unable to make an impression on Jarno Trulli in eighth place.

He made up a place when Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima, the lightest of the front-runners, pitted early on lap 15 – as did Kimi Raikkonen and Jarno Trulli – but he lost out to Felipe Massa who ran a long middle stint and put in some blistering lap times to run in fourth place.

At the front Webber put in some quick laps to close the gap to Vettel to under twenty seconds but that was largely to do with Red Bull calling on the German to preserve his tyres.

With little in the way of challenge from Brawn GP and no signs of rain, Red Bull Racing cantered to the chequered flag as team principal Christian Horner and Adrian Newey, the architect of the new found performance of the RB5, their second 1-2 of the season.

Button salvaged sixth place courtesy of a longer middle stint and a car that appeared to be better suited to the soft tyres. Jarno Trulli dropped to sixth place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Timo Glock, while Giancarlo Fisichella ran strongly throughout the race to pick up tenth place at Force India’s home grand prix.

In what was a stark reminder of just how much the new rules have rocked the pecking order this year, Lewis Hamilton, who dominated the race in 2008 in front of his home crowd, found himself entrenched in a scrap for nothing more than dignity and respect as he battled with fellow stars Fernando Alonso and Robert Kubica at the back of the grid.

There was no love loss between Hamilton and Alonso. The pair traded places with each other in the middle stint giving the British fans something to get their teeth into further down the field. In the opening stages of the race Hamilton was squeezed onto the grass on the hanger straight by his former McLaren teammate, which dropped him behind the BMW Sauber drivers for most of the race. He took his revenge later passing an out-of-shape Alonso into Copse with a hair-raising move down the inside, but the Spaniard re-passed him moments later on the run down to Club.

Hamilton eventually fell victim to his own frustration as he put a wheel on the grass at the same corner and spun off into no mans land. He rejoined the track and trailed home in sixteenth place, behind Nelson Piquet, Robert Kubica, Fernando Alonso, and Nick Heidfeld.

Hamilton’s McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen, who took pole position at Silverstone last year, also had a nightmare race.

The Finn was dicing with Sebastian Bourdais on the short straight between Stowe and Club and as he swept across to try and take the racing line Bourdais ploughed into the back of him. The pair were both forced into retirement.

“This weekend has been a very difficult one for everyone at McLaren Mercedes,” reflected McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. “No-one in our team likes not winning, and it goes without saying that we all remain utterly determined to return to our winning ways.”

“That may not be a realistic prospect for this season although significant improvements are in the pipeline but the team is doing a huge amount of work in an effort to gain a full understanding of the performance issues our car is currently facing, with a view to developing next year s car as well as improving this year s car.”

“Sometimes you have to go backwards before you can begin going forwards and, painful as it was for all of us, this weekend was an example of that.”

Sebastian Buemi in the sister Toro Rosso finished the race a lap behind in last place, just behind Force India’s Adrian Sutil who started the grand prix from the pitlane after crashing out in qualifying.

1       Sebastian Vettel        Red Bull        1:22:49.328
2       Mark Webber             Red Bull        15.188
3       Rubens Barrichello      Brawn           41.175
4       Felipe Massa            Ferrari         45.043
5       Nico Rosberg            Williams        45.915
6       Jenson Button           Brawn           46.285
7       Jarno Trulli            Toyota          1:08.307
8       Kimi Räikkönen          Ferrari         1:09.622
9       Timo Glock              Toyota          1:09.823
10      Giancarlo Fisichella    Force India     1:11.522
11      Kazuki Nakajima         Williams        1:14.023
12      Nelson Piquet           Renault         at 1 lap
13      Robert Kubica           BMW             at 1 lap
14      Fernando Alonso         Renault         at 1 lap
15      Nick Heidfeld           BMW             at 1 lap
16      Lewis Hamilton          McLaren         at 1 lap
17      Adrian Sutil            Force India     at 1 lap
18      Sebastien Buemi         Toro Rosso      at 1 lap
19      Sebastien Bourdais      Toro Rosso      out
20      Heikki Kovalainen       McLaren         out