Vettel Wins Another Largely Dull Valencia GP

Patrick AllenAnalyst IJune 27, 2010

VALENCIA, SPAIN - JUNE 27:  Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing drives during the European Formula One Grand Prix at the Valencia Street Circuit on July 27, 2010, in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
Ker Robertson/Getty Images

I realize many of you will argue that the Webber crash alone made this race at least a little exciting. However, whilst I agree the incident was indeed tense (and thank God both Webber and Kovalainen walked away safely), the resulting safety car actually made the race even more boring than it otherwise would have been.

The start was good at least. Vettel sped away comfortably, but a slow Webber gave both Hamilton and Alonso a very strong shot at gaining some places.

Hamilton made it to P2 but had to hold of a fiery Alonso, now in P3. Further back Kubica, Button and both Williams had also overtaken a strangely slow Webber.

Here are your positions after lap two:

Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Kubica, Button, Barrichello, Hulkenberg, Webber, Buemi, Schumacher, Sutil, Liuzzi, Rosberg, Petrov, Alguersuari, de la Rossa, Kobayashi, Kovalainen, di Grassi, Glock, Chandhok, Senna, Trulli.

By lap three it didn’t look as if much was going to change, despite Hamilton complaining of a damaged front wing.

I suppose the only thing really worth mentioning was that Trulli stopped on lap one, only to go back into the pits a few laps later stuck in gear. The Italian did rejoin the race, but he was two laps down and only gaining valuable experience for the Lotus team.

On lap eight Webber pitted, but there was a disaster as the team struggled to remove the left front tyre. This 7.9 second stop (Red Bull aim for a three second stop) only made matters worse for the Australian who seemed to have no technical problems...he was just slow?

The next couple of laps were uneventful, but suddenly on lap 10 we saw Webber upside down and about to have a huge smash with the tyre wall!

The Australian had found himself out of place behind the slower Lotus of Kovalainen, and around turns 12 and 13 Webber saw an opportunity to pass.

However, arguably the Red Bull man underestimated the slowness of the Lotus and just went right into the back of him. The speed of the Red Bull, taken with the fact that it was launched into the sky by the right rear of Kovalainen’s car sent Webber into a back flip similar to his victory jump into the pool in Monaco!

The Red Bull landed upside down, turned itself back over again and sped sideways into the tyre wall. Both men were thankfully fine, but the incident led to Valencia’s first ever safety car period.

Now this period did two things, first it effectively ruined the race, and second it gave us things to argue about and debate for days to come! The big questions were: did Hamilton break the rules by overtaking the safety cars wrongly, and did nine other cars also break the rules by inappropriate use of speed?

The reason this period ruined the race was due to the fact that some of the fastest front runners (including Alonso, Massa, and Kubica), had passed the pit entry by the time the safety car came out. Vettel and Hamilton had fortunately managed to beat the safety car and were therefore unaffected by having to stop.

Meanwhile, the Ferraris had been slowed by a lap behind the safety car and found themselves down in the standings after earlier stops from other mid-field drivers.

The positions after this brief moment of madness were as follows:

Vettel, Hamilton, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Button, Barrichello, Kubica, Buemi, Sutil, Hulkenberg, Alonso, de la Rossa, Petrov, Rosberg, Liuzzi, di Grassi, Glock, Massa, Senna, Alguersuari, Chandhok.

So Ferrari had lost out, but Schumacher was about to suffer too. The German pitted on lap 14 but found when exiting the pits that he had to stop and wait for the pack to pass. This demoted the Mercedes driver to P19 and effectively last place!

The safety car re-joined the same lap, but nothing much changed in the positions. Kobayashi was the biggest winner now in P3 but he still had to stop (only Kobayashi and the two Virgin cars didn’t pit under the safety car). There were a few other little moves here and there, for example Alonso took P9 from Hulkenberg, and Schumacher made a couple of places up, but nothing world shattering.

By lap 18, Kobayashi was slowing up the pack, the fast Ferraris were stuck in the mid field and the two leaders were pulling away. But it was close at the front right? Wrong, on lap 20 Hamilton was told to save fuel for a later attack. DULL!

I’m afraid the race was effectively given it’s death sentence around this time when we learnt that Hamilton was under investigation for passing the safety car wrongly. On lap 28 Hamilton had done a good enough job on his in laps to re-join in P2 after his stop which basically meant the penalty was pointless and had no bearing on the overall race!

That was it really, Vettel had won and despite Hamilton’s best efforts, he had nothing left to get close enough.

There was at least an iota of excitement brought by Kobayashi in the dying laps of the race. The Japanese driver finally pitted on lap 54 and rejoined back in P9, but close to Alonso and with new tyres on.

The Sauber driver was awesome and managed to overtake first Alonso on lap 56, and then Buemi on the very last corner of the very last lap. This performance could in fact gain the Sauber driver a P3 finish as we learnt towards the end of the race that Button, Barrichello, Hulkenberg, Kubica, Petrov, Sutil, Liuzzi, Buemi, and de la Rossa will be under investigation for inappropriate use of speed under the safety car.

In conclusion, Webber’s crash was exciting but ruined the race, the penalties will certainly be interesting but will be decided after the race, and exciting as it was to see Kobayashi at the end, it was too little too late for me.

What Canada and tracks like it do so well, these new tracks at Valencia, Abu Dhabi and Singapore do exactly the opposite. I say this every race, but whilst these new fancy venues line the pockets of the likes of Bernie Eccolstone, the classic tracks are the only thing keeping F1 alive for the fans.

Very Provisional Results:

1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault

2 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes

3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes

4 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth

5 Robert Kubica Renault

6 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes

7 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari

8 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari

9 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 57

10 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari

11 Vitaly Petrov Renault 57

12 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP

13 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes

14 Felipe Massa Ferrari

15 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari

16 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP

17 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth

18 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth

19 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth

20 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth

21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth

Ret Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth

Ret Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth

Ret Mark Webber RBR-Renault

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Drivers’ Championship Top Three:

Hamilton: 127

Button: 121

Vettel: 115

Constructors’ Championship Top Three:

McLaren: 248

Red Bull: 218

Ferrari: 163