Fernando Alonso became the first repeat winner of the season when he clinched the European GP victory in the most exciting race ever seen in Valencia...
Fernando Alonso became the first repeat winner of the season when he clinched the European GP victory in the most exciting race ever seen in Valencia.
Sebastian Vettel had been on course for a comfortable victory on a hot sunny day at Valencia, 20 seconds ahead of Romain Grosjean when the Safety Car came out and changed the entire complexion of the race.
Running behind the Safety Car led to alternator failures for both Vettel and Grosjean allowing Alonso to take the win after he had fought his way through from P11 with a series of virtuoso overtaking moves. In the latter stages of the race Pastor Maldonado threw away a certain podium position by driving into the side of Lewis Hamilton, handing the place to a very surprised Michael Schumacher
The sun was shining down on Valencia with the ambient temperature rising to 27C just before the start and the track at 44C.
Six rows of Grid
1.Vettel, 2.Hamilton, 3.Maldonado, 4.Grosjean, 5.Raikkonen, 6.Rosberg, 7.Kobayashi, 8.Hulkenberg, 9.Button, 10.DiResta, 11.Alonso, 12.Schumacher
As the lights went out Vettel got a great start and led Hamilton into Turn 1. Hamilton had to defend against Maldonado but kept the position. Kimi Raikkonen started much better than Romain Grosjean and looked to be squeezing past Maldonado when the Venezuelan moved across and Kimi had to lift off.
This allowed Grosjean back in front of Raikkonen, plus Kobayashi and instead of ending the first lap in P3 he was back in P6. The two Ferraris both got great starts with Alonso choosing the right line at every opportunity. Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg both lost out and went backwards.
Positions at the end of Lap 1: 1.Vettel, 2.Hamilton, 3.Grosjean, 4.Kobayashi, 5.Maldonado, 6.Raikkonen, 7.Hulkenberg, 8.Alonso, 9.DiResta, 10.Massa, 11.Rosberg, 12.Schumacher, 13.Button, 14.Senna, 15.Perez
Maldonado was using a lot of the track to keep Raikkonen behind him and pushed Raikkonen over the kerbs as they ran alongside through the 18/19/20 sequence of corners. He kept the place.
At the front, Sebastian Vettel set off at a gallop and by Lap 2 he had a four second lead over Hamilton. By Lap 4 it was 6.8 seconds. Although Romain Grosjean was first in line behind Lewis Hamilton in what was quite a large queue of cars, nobody was making any moves forward. On Lap 6 Jenson Button was able to find a way past Michael Schumacher for P12.
Felipe Massa was anxious to get past Paul DiResta who was driving conservatively, but couldn't find a way past the Scot. Mark Webber had got ahead of Heikki Kovalainen at the start but was still stuck back in P17.
By Lap 8 Vettel's gap was 9.6 seconds and Romain Grosjean was right on Lewis Hamilton's gearbox. On Lap 10 Romain launched an overtaking move around the outside of Hamilton running down to Turn 12 and made it stick. Hamilton was very fair and didn't fight the place too hard.
Kimi Raikkonen was also moving forward passing Maldonado on the outside of Turn 13 with a remarkable overtaking move on lap 13.
Jenson Button had started the first round of pit-stops on Lap 10 and Sebastian Vettel was the last of the front-runners (along with Romain Grosjean) on Lap 16.
Positions at the end of Lap 16: 1.Vettel, 2.Grosjean, 3.DiResta (not stopped), 4.Rosberg (not stopped), 5.Hamilton, 6.Schumacher (not stopped), 7.Senna (not stopped), 8.Webber (not stopped), 9.Fernando Alonso, 10.Raikkonen, 11.Kobayashi, 12.Maldonado, 13.Massa