Monday, 29 August 2011

Vettel leads home Red Bull one-two at Spa

Sebastian Vettel brilliantly wins at Spa, leading a Red Bull one-two after Lewis Hamilton retires.

Red Bull may not traditionally be strong at Spa, but their drivers produced a stunning performance to get the champions back to winning ways, with Sebastian Vettel closing in on the championship after leading home a one-two for the team. Jenson Button drove brilliantly to take 3rd after starting 13th, while Fernando Alonso was 4th, making up 4 places from his grid position. However, the Spaniard will be angry, as Button's storming drive got even better on lap 42, when he passed Alonso for 3rd with 2 laps to go.

One of the big talking points was Lewis Hamilton, who's championship hopes are all but over, after he retired following a crash with Sauber's Kamui Kobyashi. Vettel now leads team mate Webber by 92 points in the championship, with only 175 available. Alonso moves up to third in the championship, 10 points behind Webber, with Button moving up to fourth, 12 points behind Alonso and three points ahead of Hamilton.
Hamilton retires after contact with Kobayashi
Vettel's victory was his seventh in 12 races, and ends a run of three grands prix without a win. Red Bull overcame concerns about their tyre wear by applying and exploited their car's superior pace to leave their rivals trailing.

Vettel got away reasonably well from the grid, holding the lead, but once again his team mate Mark Webber was slow away. Hamilton also lost positions, and Rosberg was up to 2nd through La Source. Alonso made his way into 5th, behind Vettel, Rosberg, Massa, Hamilton and Alonso. Senna got the braking for Turn 1 completely wrong, and speared into Alguersuari, who was forced to retire. Schumacher took full advantage of mistakes into turn 1, and made up 9 places, into 15th. The biggest shock was yet to come though, when Nico Rosberg demonstrated the Mercedes' incredible straight line speed by taking the lead into Les Combes, passing Vettel.

On lap 2 Alonso took Hamilton, and Massa, while Webber and Button pitted. Button, who was recovering from damage into Turn 1, pitted from 11th. Hamilton passed Massa on lap 4, while Vettel pitted for hard tyres on 5. On Lap 7, Alonso took full advantage of the DRS system, and proved that Ferrari have stunning straight line speed, by passing Rosberg into Les Combes for 2nd. Alonso duly pitted on lap 8, rejoining in front of Webber, who made pass of the season into Eau Rouge. The Spaniard "DRS'd" the Aussie on the following lap though. Hamilton pitted on Lap 11, before drama ensued.

Battling with Kamui Kobayashi, Hamilton overtook him with DRS, but Kobayashi was quicker on the straights, and they were side by side going into Les Combes. They touched, and Hamilton hit the wall, smashing into two advertising boards and ending up in the tyre wall. The Safety Car was deployed, with Alonso leading, as Vettel took a free stop. On Lap 14, the order was Alonso, Webber, Vettel and Massa. At the restart, Vettel picked off Webber, and was soon on Alonso's tail. Ferrari were still annoyed that they ddin't pit Alonso under the safety car. By lap 18, Button was up to 8th after passing Petrov and Perez. By lap 26, Rosberg was the latest of his victims, amd after passing Schumacher and Massa, he was into 4th.

On lap 34, Michael Schumacher continued his recovery drive with a brilliant passing move on his fellow countryman Adrian Sutil. Alonso was powerless to Webber, who moved up to second with the help of DRS. Meanwhile Button began to close the Ferrari in, as Vettel opened the gap to his team mate to 5.5 seconds. On Lap 42, both Rosberg and Alonso conceded defeat in their battles, as Schumacher got through for fifth, and Button for the final podium place.

Vettel crossed the line first, ahead of his team mate Webber, Button, Alonso, Schumacher and Rosberg. Adrian Sutil beat Felipe Massa to the line, while Vitaly Petrov got two points. Pastor Maldonado also scored his first ever point with 10th.

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