Vettel wins Europe GP, Webber crashes

Sunday, June 27, 2010

VALENCIA - Sebastian Vettel won an action-packed European Formula One Grand Prix from the pole Sunday as team-mate Mark Webber escaped a bad crash unhurt and rival Lewis Hamilton had to swallow a drive through penalty.

The German Red Bull driver Vettel claimed his second season victory and seventh overall to rebound from some bad weeks ahead of Hamilton and his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button.

“Germany’s best result of the day,” Red Bull’s English boss Christian Horner told Vettel immediately after the race, a reference to the World Cup football match between Germany and England later Sunday.

Webber’s car was lifted into the air after he hit the rear of Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus as he tried to pass him in the 10th lap. The Red Bull was lifted into the air, flipped over and after landing skidded into a tyre wall.

But Webber got out of the wreck immediately and walked away on his own. A check-up in the medical centre confirmed that he escaped the scary incident unhurt.

The crash also cost Hamilton his penalty as race stewards ruled he had overtaken the safety car just as came out after the Webber crash.

However, the final outcome was far from clear as it was announced late in the race that nine drivers, including Button, were under investigation for driving too fast during the early safety car phase - which could shake up the final classification.

It was not out of the question that the original seventh-place finisher Kamui Kobayashi would be swept to third in the case of possible sanctions with the third-to-sixth finishers part of the probe.

For now, Hamilton leads the drivers’ standings with 127 points from nine of 19 races, Button has 121 and Vettel moved from fifth to third with 115 ahead of Webber, who remained on 103. Alonso has 96.

Vettel won the start but was under pressure from Hamilton immediately and the two cars briefly touched in the second turn, with Hamilton complaining about front wing problem afterwards.

Webber had a disaster start as he dropped from second to ninth but that was nothing compared to what was to happen to the Australian a little later.

Webber pitted early for fresh tyres and the crash with Kovalainen occurred on the following lap as he tried to work his way up again.

The safety car came out for four laps as the teams scrambled use the opportunity to change tyres.

Vettel almost braked too late just on the restart but just held his position ahead of Hamilton, while Japanese Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi was swept to third place ahead of Button and Alonso struggled in 10th.

The home boy Alonso and Ferrari lamented that Hamilton had squeezed past the safety car just ahead of them.

It did nothing to soothe their nerves when two super-fast laps from the Brit ahead of the penalty trip through the pitlane allowed him to re-enter the race in the same second place he held before - as Kobayashi appeared to slow down Button.

Vettel safetly drove the race home without major problems now that he had a healthy lead, finally staying out of all trouble after colliding with Webber four weeks ago in Turkey and a modest fifth place two weeks ago in Canada.

He joins Hamilton, Button and Webber as two-time season winners as McLaren were brought back to earth after one-two finishes in the past two races.

Kobayashi had to relinquish third place by making the mandantory pit stop very late, but then with fresh tyres passed Alonso and Sebastien Buemi were in the final lap for seventh place - and possibly more.

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