Sebastien Vettel won his first European GP on the streets of Valencia last weekend, and this win will ensure that he is back on track for the World Championship hunt. Vettel has not won a race since Malaysia, and after his crash at Turkey, this win will do a lot to boost his confidence ahead of the British GP.
He is now only 12 points behind championship leader Hamilton, and 12 points ahead of teammate Webber who failed to score any points over the weekend.
But Webber should be happy that he was able to walk away from his car after a horrific shunt with Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen. This was Webber’s fault as he misjudged the speed of the Lotus car which was a few seconds slower than the Red Bull.
McLaren managed to get to the other two podium places, but despite the good results there was a lot of controversy with Hamilton’s rule-breaking performance; enabling him to retain second even with a penalty. Hamilton took the most advantage of the safety car, even overtaking it, and got away with a drive-through penalty. The race stewards were too late in making the call, giving him enough time to go in and come back.
The FIA should look at this as Ferrari’s Alonso, who was just behind Hamilton, got a real raw deal as he ended up finishing the race eighth while Schumacher, who was third during the safety car period, ended up with one of his worst finishes ever—15th place.
Jenson Button had a steady race, and, thanks to the safety car luck, managed to finish third. He now trails Hamilton by only six points.
While it was back-markers that cost Alonso the race in Canada, Ferrari and Alonso had one of their worst weekends despite a very good car. This time around, the safety car and the weird rules of the FIA cost them a podium place. Even Massa was running well, but due to the safety car even he failed to finish in points.
Alonso and Ferrari need to put this behind them and focus on the British GP. Though it could be tough to match the speed of Red Bull, they can definitely match McLaren and even beat them.
Mercedes had another bad weekend. Despite the criticism mounting on Schumacher, along with the car definitely not being up to the mark, he still showed that he has the race pace needed. The team is now well off the pace of Renault and even had the likes of Williams and Toro Rosso catching up with them over the weekend.
Despite Brawn producing a dream car last year, the same team which was known as BAR and Honda has produced some disastrous cars in the past. Rosberg may have been consistent the whole season but he is not a world champion in the making and the team should focus on 2011 and ensure that they keep Schumacher.
Williams, after being outpaced by Force India since the start of the season, saw Toro Rosso catch up with them during the last few races, but they managed a strong fourth place finish with veteran Rubens Barrichello. This was the best result for the team this year, and they should use this momentum to catch up with Force India and try to beat them by the end of the season.
Rookie Nico Hulkenberg was set to reach points, but then mechanical issues forced him to retire from the race—he was strong nevertheless.
Force India’s qualifying went haywire, but the safety car played into their hands and Sutil managed to finish sixth ahead of Alonso. Teammate Liuzzi was unlucky and could only manage to finish 16th. The car should be strong during the British GP as the track should favour them as they try to catch up with the likes of Mercedes and Renault.
Sauber and Kamui Kobayashi had a brilliant race, and the gutsy move by Sauber to keep Kobayashi on the track for so long without changing tyres paid off in the end. Combine that with some last minute overtaking moves on Alonso and Buemi, and Kobayashi finished seventh while teammate de la Rosa was on points. He was, however, moved down to 12th place after the steward’s penalty towards the end of the race.
Toro Rosso and Buemi had a good weekend, and if Buemi continues to drive the same way he is all set for Red Bull for 2012, while Jaime Alguersuari needs to start performing well if he needs to maintain his seat for the coming year.
Lotus was hoping for a special weekend as this was to be their 500th race (the team still maintains that it shares the heritage from the original Team Lotus), but they had a very bad weekend as Trulli finished last while Heikki Kovalainen’s race was compromised by Webber’s crash.
Both Virgin and HRT managed to finish the race, but these cars make only numbers and could actually cost potential race winners as discovered at Canada. The good news is that the 107 rule is back and this means that these teams needs to get faster or else they may not make it to the starting grid.
It was a good European GP but Vettel was the driver of the race as after a small tiff with Hamilton during the first corner he had a spotless race and he managed to outpace everyone. This victory will also give him all the confidence going into future races and a few more wins will ensure that he is on track to win the World Title.