Vettel edges Hamilton in Spanish F1 thriller

Last Updated: Monday, May 23, 2011 - 00:48

Barcelona: Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel drove his Red Bull to a narrow and dramatic victory ahead of McLaren`s Lewis Hamilton in the Spanish Grand Prix here on Sunday.

The 23-year-old German used his natural speed and clever strategy to steal the lead after starting second behind team-mate Mark Webber, resisted all that 2008 champion Hamilton could throw at him in the closing stages of the 66-lap contest.

After a thrilling duel, Vettel finished six-tenths of a second ahead of the 26-year-old Briton to reel off his fourth win in five races this season - his 13th career win - and extend his lead in the drivers` world championship.
It was the first time that a driver, who did not start from pole, had won the Spanish Grand Prix in 11 years.

Hamilton came home second ahead of his McLaren team-mate and fellow-Englishman Jenson Button who finished third ahead of Webber, who had started from pole, and fifth-placed two-times champion Fernando Alonso.

Spaniard Alonso gave his home crowd plenty to cheer with a wonderful start and great charge for Ferrari in the early stages, but could not live with the leaders in the second half of the 66-laps contest.

Seven-times champion Michael Schumacher, 42, bounced back from his dismal race in Turkey by finishing sixth for Mercedes ahead of his team-mate German Nico Rosberg, another German Nick Heidfeld of Renault and the two Sauber drivers Mexican Sergio Perez and Japanese Kamui Kobayashi.
Vettel now has 118 points and leads Hamilton, on 77 points by 41 points while in the constructors standings Red Bull have 185 points to McLaren on 138.

"A great drive Seb, fantastic, a brilliant job," said Red Bull team chief Christian Horner to Vettel on the slowing down lap. "Yabbadabbadoooo!" replied the driver, his youthful enthusiasm shining through.

Vettel and Hamilton had exchanged the lead throughout the race as each pit-stopped several times.

The German made his third stop after 32 laps to go on hards. This gave Hamilton the lead again before he did the same three laps later and rejoined second, cutting the gap to little more than a second with 20 laps remaining and Button third, 22 seconds -- or a fast pit stop -- adrift.

The leading duo then pitted again after 48 and 49 laps and Hamilton staying just over a second behind with Button 30 seconds behind in third, chased by Webber, as they went into the final 10 laps.
Hamilton soon cut Vettel`s lead to half a second and began hunting a passing move with the aid of his Kinetic Energy Regeneration System (KERS) and the Drag Reduction System (DRS).

Hamilton`s McLaren appeared to have the superior pace in these final laps, but not the edge, or opportunity, to overtake the leader who was using all his skills to stay in front.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, May 23, 2011 - 00:48

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