Pole sitter Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull has picked up his first win since the Malaysian GP in Valencia, Spain. The German crossed the finish line ahead of Lewis Hamilton who was closing the gap in the final stages of the race. The final podium position went to Hamilton’s team mate Jenson Button.
The home of this year’s European GP gave viewers a rather dramatic race especially with a horrifying accident that involved Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Lotus’ Heikki Kovalainen. The accident spawned a Safety Car situation which itself was showered with controversy and it substantially affected the outcome of the race, especially from fourth place and below.
Williams’ Rubens Barrichello finished in fourth ahead of Renault’s Robert Kubica and Force India’s Adrian Sutil. Seventh place went to Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi who drove a sensational race. The sole Japanese driver of the season even overtook Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi at the last corner on the final lap. Buemi settled in eight while Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso only managed to go home in ninth, although he had a good chance of finishing in the podium, before the Safety Car situation that is. The final top ten position went to other Sauber driver, Pedro de la Rosa which means both the Saubers finished in the points today.
Lotus Racing didn’t have anything much to celebrate about on its 500th race, if you take into account Lotus’ previous campaigns. Jarno Trulli finished the race but did so in last place, 21st. The Italian had some problems with his car and had to make several pitstops. Only three drivers retired today including Williams’ Nico Hulkenberg who stopped with about eight laps remaining. The other two were Hekki Kovalainen and Mark Webber. As mentioned above they were involved in a massive accident.
Webber, fresh from a pitstop was attempting to overtake Kovalainen but as he flicked his car out of a slip stream, his Red Bull hit the back of the Lotus and before you knew it his car went airborne and landed head down. The Red Bull then fell on its tires and went straight into a barrier. Kovalainen on the other hand had missing front and rear wings. More spectacular than the accident itself was the fact that Webber was able to walk away from the massive crash. This happened early in race and the Safety Car was deployed.
As the Safety Car was coming out of the pits, Lewis Hamilton overtook it leaving the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso behind. The Ferrari’s were running high-up in the field before the SLS AMG was deployed. Hamilton’s move came to the Steward’s attention and he was slapped with a drive through penalty later in the race. But the penalty didn’t really do much damage as the Brit maintained his second place and Alonso was definitely frustrated about this.
Also when the Safety Car was deployed some teams managed to make pit stops right away which brought them forward in the field. Unfortunately both Ferrari and Mercedes failed to capitalize on this and only managed to pit while spending time behind the Safety Car. This pushed them further down the field and racing around a circuit that is naturally hard to overtake made it worse for them.
Kamui Kobayashi made full use of the situation and settled in third place, but he did not make a pit stop. He maintained the position and managed to fend off Jenson Button but the Sauber driver had to pit eventually and dropped to seventh, still a good position nevertheless. Eventual winner Vettel raced without a hitch except when he was suffering some brake issues towards the end of the race, which is why Hamilton was able to close the gap.
The Safety Car situation also led to the decision by the Stewards to investigate Button, Barrichello, Kubica, Sutil, Buemi, de la Rosa, Petrov, Liuzzi and Hulkenberg after the race. They may be penalized for driving too quickly under the Safety Car condition. While we wait the Stewards to make their decisions, you can go here view the preliminary results. Formula 1 now heads to Silverstone for the 2010 British Grand Prix.