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Vettel fends off Hamilton for Spain win

Vettel fends off Hamilton for Spain winSebastian Vettel resisted huge pressure from Lewis Hamilton to take his fourth victory of the year in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Jenson Button bucked the four-stop trend and made a three-stop strategy work to take third, while polesitter Mark Webber ended up back in fourth and Fernando Alonso slumped to a lapped fifth after gloriously leading the first two stints of the race.

Webber's pole advantage only lasted a few yards as Vettel was immediately all over him off the line. As the two Red Bulls battled, the fast-starting Alonso (Ferrari) picked up sliced down the inside of both of them and sent the crowd ecstatic by taking the lead of his home grand prix.

That was where he would stay for the first two stints of the race, as though Vettel, Webber and Hamilton were right behind him, with the DRS not proving as dramatically effective in Spain as it had in Turkey, and with Ferrari enjoying good performance out of the final corner and on the straight, Alonso was able to keep his pursuers at bay.

Vettel tried to jump ahead by pitting one lap sooner for his first tyre change - but he emerged into traffic. Despite diving past Button (who had fallen to 10th with a slow start), Massa and Rosberg in the space of one dynamic out-lap, Vettel still found himself back behind Alonso when the Ferrari rejoined.

But at the second stops on laps 17 and 18, Red Bull's tactics worked out perfectly, and an extra lap on new tyres was sufficient to give Vettel a clear lead.

While Webber pitted at the same time as Alonso and stayed behind the Ferrari, McLaren tried something different and kept Hamilton out until lap 22, which jumped him past Alonso and Webber from fourth to second.

Vettel and Hamilton then pulled away in unison, as Alonso dropped ever further behind and kept Webber tucked up behind him. Both were then passed by Button in quick succession mid-race as the McLaren's three-stop strategy meant it was on soft tyres while Alonso and Webber were grappling with the hards.

Webber finally got past Alonso at the final stops, when the Red Bull stayed out a full eight laps longer and had no trouble getting ahead of the fading Ferrari, which began to lap 3s off the pace late on as it struggled badly with the hard tyres and was eventually lapped.

While Webber proved unable to catch Button for third, Hamilton got ever closer to Vettel in the closing laps, with the Red Bull radio traffic suggesting that again the car's KERS was only working intermittently.

There were some very tense and close moments, but there would be no repeats of China's late position change, as Vettel hung on to win by just 0.6s.

Among the lapped multitudes, Mercedes team-mates Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg had a tough race-long battle for sixth, with the elder German staying ahead.

Nick Heidfeld was all over the back of them at the end, making excellent use of a clever strategy and abundant fresh tyres to fly through from the back of the grid in the Renault.

The two Saubers completed the scorers, Sergio Perez taking his first Formula 1 points in ninth and Kamui Kobayashi doing well to recover from a first-lap puncture to take 10th.

Felipe Massa struggled all afternoon, and after a mid-race spin and a slide towards the foot of the top 10, he finally dumped his Ferrari in the gravel with six laps to go.

Paul di Resta got as high as fifth with a very strong opening stint on hard tyres, but did not have the pace later on to turn that into points, ending up 12th, behind Vitaly Petrov - another man to lose speed and places as the race progressed after leading the Mercedes at first.

Lotus showed its best race pace yet and had both cars in the top 10 for a while thanks to long first stints on soft tyres, but later faded, with Jarno Trulli only 18th and Heikki Kovalainen crashing out at Turn 4.

There would be no joy for Williams - Pastor Maldonado lacked race pace and slumped to 15th and Rubens Barrichello's charge from the back never materialised, not helped by a slow first pitstop he finished only 17th.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS

The Spanish Grand Prix
Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain;
66 laps; 307.104km;
Weather: Sunny.

Classified:

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time
 1.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           1h39:03.301
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           +     0.630
 3.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +    35.697
 4.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +    47.966
 5.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +     1 lap
 6.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +     1 lap
 7.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +     1 lap
 8.  Heidfeld      Renault                    +     1 lap
 9.  Perez         Sauber-Ferrari             +     1 lap
10.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +     1 lap
11.  Petrov        Renault                    +     1 lap
12.  Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes       +     1 lap
13.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes       +     1 lap
14.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +     1 lap
15.  Maldonado     Williams-Cosworth          +     1 lap
16.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +    2 laps
17.  Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth          +    2 laps
18.  Trulli        Lotus-Renault              +    2 laps
19.  Glock         Virgin-Cosworth            +    3 laps
20.  D'Ambrosio    Virgin-Cosworth            +    3 laps
21.  Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth               +    4 laps

Fastest lap: Alonso, 1:26.727

Not classified/retirements:

Driver        Team                         On lap
Massa         Ferrari                      60
Kovalainen    Lotus-Renault                49
Liuzzi        HRT-Cosworth                 29


World Championship standings, round 5:                

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Vettel       118        1.  Red Bull-Renault          185
 2.  Hamilton      77        2.  McLaren-Mercedes          138
 3.  Webber        67        3.  Ferrari                    75
 4.  Button        61        4.  Renault                    46
 5.  Alonso        51        5.  Mercedes                   40
 6.  Rosberg       26        6.  Sauber-Ferrari             11
 7.  Heidfeld      25        7.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari          6
 8.  Massa         24        8.  Force India-Mercedes        4
 9.  Petrov        21       
10.  Schumacher    14       
11.  Kobayashi      9       
12.  Buemi          6       
13.  Sutil          2       
14.  Di Resta       2       
15.  Perez          2       
       
All timing unofficial
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