Red Bull has definitely turned a pole position into a race victory but instead of pole-starter Sebastian Vettel as you might expect, it was Mark Webber who did it after starting the race from second place. The Australian finished the rather exiting race ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso while third place went to Sebastian Vettel, after losing out no thanks to a drive through penalty.
More importantly, Webber is now the leader of the Driver’s Championship and that was made possible with Lewis Hamilton’s retirement, most likely due to a transmission problem. Felipe Massa in the other Ferrari crossed the line in fourth place followed by Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, Williams’ Nico Hulkenberg and Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa.
Jenson Button from McLaren finished in eight place while Kamui Kobayashi from Sauber managed to finish in the top ten and collect some valuable points after starting from 23rd on the grid. He was given a 5-place grid drop after failing to get into the FIA scrutineering garage during qualifying yesterday. The final point-paying position was taken up by Rubens Barrichello from Williams after making a sensational overtaking move on former Ferrari team mate Michael Schumacher who was the only Mercedes driver to finish the race.
Despite losing out to Virgin Racing in qualifying, Lotus managed to finish the race ahead of the Richard Branson-owned team. Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli finished in 13th and 14th places ahead of Virgin’s Timo Glock. Hispania’s Bruno Senna, Virgin’s Lucas di Grassi and Hispania’s Sakon Yamamoto filled 17th, 18th and 19th positions ahead of the retirees. The start of the race saw Sebastian Vettel keep his lead ahead of Alonso. Webber dropped to third but kept himself ahead of Massa.
The 70-lap race was anything but boring although there were very few overtaking moves. First up was the safety car situation on Lap 16 that was prompted by some debris on the track. The highlight of the day was the accident that took place in the pit lane. The Renault pit crew cleared Kubica to rejoin the race, but failed to notice Adrian Sutil’s oncoming Force India race car. Both cars collided and subsequently retired. At the same time Nico Rosberg lost his rear right wheel just a second or two after being released by his pit crew.
As the safety car was being brought in, Vettel who was running second following the pit stops had a huge distance between himself and Webber in front. With the huge gap, exceeding the minimum 10-car length rule, the stewards gave the German a drive through penalty which caused him to lose second place to Alonso. While performing the drive through Vettel made no attempt in keeping his frustrations to himself as he was carrying out the ‘universal’ hand gesture. Vettel later revealed that he was unaware of the safety car’s status at that point of time.
As mentioned Webber’s victory and Lewis Hamilton’s retirement handed the former the lead in the Driver’s Championship. He now has 161 points while Hamilton is second with 157 points. Frustrated Vettel is third with 151 points followed by Button with 147 points and Alonso with 141 points. Massa is quite far off with 97 points in sixth. Red Bull has taken over the Constructor’s Championship lead with 312 points. McLaren and Ferrari are behind with 304 and 238 points respectively.
Judging from Red Bull’s current performance it looks as though either Webber or Vettel will bag the driver’s crown along with the constructor’s title as well. This can only change if McLaren somehow improves dramatically or if Ferrari is able to do more damage. Formula 1 will now enjoy a 3-week long break before congregating again for the Belgian GP at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit.