Vettel marches on with victory in Spain

Sebastian Vettel took a deserved but hard-fought victory in this afternoon’s Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The Red Bull man drove round a suspected issue with his KERS facility to take the win on a hot day in Catalonia, although his dominance was not as assured this time out.

The German was harried to the finish line by Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren, who had a magnificent afternoon in his own right and was just unable to pass his opponent.

Third place was taken by Jenson Button, who recovered after a poor start with the help of clever strategy from his team and careful management of the fragile Pirelli rubber that played such a part in the race.

Despite starting on pole Mark Webber was only capable of fourth place, showing that the Red Bull’s race pace was not the equal of itself in qualifying trim. In truth, Webber’s race was lost by a poor start when he lost out to Fernando Alonso and his team mate Vettel. He spent the race toiling behind Alonso.

Alonso in the Ferrari got a barnstorming start, leading into the first turn and for the first stint, but sadly for the home fans he was incapable of translating that into a podium finish. The Ferrari was hard on its tyres and in terms of raw pace, a way behind the Red Bull and McLaren cars. Alonso nevertheless took fifth place.

Mercedes-Benz took sixth and seventh places in the hands of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, with the elder man bettering his team mate through a combination of canny strategy and borderline defensive driving.

Nick Heidfeld drove an outstanding race from the back of the grid, making the point that conserving sets of tyres in this new era is probably a wiser decision than actually qualifying. He finished eighth with some good overtaking, including of his team mate Vitaly Petrov who ended up 11th.

The two Saubers will also be happy with ninth and tenth, Perez bettering Kobayashi in a creditable showing for the Mexican.

The Force Indias came in 12th and 13th with Paul di Resta again getting the measure of Adrian Sutil, whose off-track difficulties cannot have helped his pre-race preparation. Di Resta was a character as ever and represents a strong prospect for the team.

Sebastian Buemi was 14th, beating his team mate Jaime Alguersuari once more into what would have been 15th had the latter not come together with Pastor Maldonado on the last lap. As it was, Maldonado’s destruction derby tactics paid off and he took 15th, with the local man Alguersuari limping into 16th. Maldonado’s team mate Rubens Barrichello had another torrid afternoon, finishing 17th.

Jarno Trulli was the first of the new teams in 18th, while his team mate Kovalainen crashed towards the end of the race, after looking combative early on in the race. Glock, d’Ambrosio and Karthikeyan were the last of the finishers respectively.

Pos Driver Team Time
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h39:03.301
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 0.630
3. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 35.697
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 47.966
5. Alonso Ferrari + 1 lap
6. Schumacher Mercedes + 1 lap
7. Rosberg Mercedes + 1 lap
8. Heidfeld Renault + 1 lap
9. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
10. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
11. Petrov Renault + 1 lap
12. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
13. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
14. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
15. Maldonado Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
16. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 2 laps
17. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 2 laps
18. Trulli Lotus-Renault + 2 laps
19. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 3 laps
20. D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth + 3 laps
21. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth + 4 laps

Fastest lap: Alonso, 1:26.727

Not classified/retirements:

Driver Team On lap
Massa Ferrari 60
Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 49
Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 29