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Vettel eases to European GP victory

Sebastian Vettel, Red BullSebastian Vettel resumed his domination of the 2011 Formula 1 season after his Montreal blip, by winning the European Grand Prix in Valencia with ease.

The world champion broke his rivals' challenge with an early charge that saw him establish a three-second lead within a few laps and then nurse a similar advantage for the rest of the afternoon, before a push for fastest lap in the final stint took his winning margin up to 10.8 seconds.

Fernando Alonso finished a very encouraging second for Ferrari in front of his home crowd. Both Ferraris had jumped Lewis Hamilton's McLaren at the start, with the flying Felipe Massa dodging between Hamilton and Alonso, then trying to get down the inside of Mark Webber for second. But as he had to back out of the move, Alonso went around the outside of his team-mate and took third.

Alonso then stayed close behind Webber and managed to grab second place with an outbraking move on lap 21. The Spaniard could not shake the Australian off, and when the Red Bull made its second stop one lap sooner, Webber was able to vault back ahead of Alonso.

But the battle was not over, as at the final tyre changes Alonso regained the advantage by running three laps further on used softs while Webber was on his new medium tyres. The Ferrari rejoined just in front, and any hope Webber had of coming back at Alonso ended when the Red Bull team ordered him to back off and take care of a gearbox finish. He held on for third.

Running longer at most pitstops did not help Massa, who fell back to fifth in the end behind Hamilton, closing on the McLaren late on without ever threatening.

Montreal winner Jenson Button had a very low-key afternoon. He was passed by Nico Rosberg at the start and by the time he had dived back ahead of the Mercedes with a bold move at Turn 2 on lap six, the rest of the leaders were out of reach. A later KERS fault ensured Button would finish a lonely sixth.

Rosberg took seventh, having battled for a while with the impressive Jaime Alguersuari, as the Toro Rosso driver converted his miserable 18th on the grid to an eighth place finish by making a two-stop strategy work on a day when nearly everyone else had to pit three times. Alguersuari fended off Adrian Sutil to the finish, as the Force India escaped from an early battle with Nick Heidfeld's 10th-placed Renault.

Sauber's Sergio Perez pulled off a unique one-stop strategy but narrowly failed to convert it to points, chasing Heidfeld home in 11th.

Michael Schumacher's hopes of points ended when he made contact with Vitaly Petrov's Renault as he joined from the pit exit after his first tyre change. That meant an extra stop for a new front wing, leaving the Mercedes 17th. Petrov was only 15th, having never really recovered from a bad start.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS

The European Grand Prix
Valencia, Spain;
57 laps; 310.080km;
Weather: Sunny.

Classified:

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time
 1.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           1h39:36.169
 2.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +    10.891
 3.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +    27.255
 4.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           +    46.190
 5.  Massa         Ferrari                    +    51.705
 6.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +  1:00.000
 7.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +  1:38.000
 8.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +     1 lap
 9.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes       +     1 lap
10.  Heidfeld      Renault                    +     1 lap
11.  Perez         Sauber-Ferrari             +     1 lap
12.  Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth          +     1 lap
13.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +     1 lap
14.  Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes       +     1 lap
15.  Petrov        Renault                    +     1 lap
16.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +     1 lap
17.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +     1 lap
18.  Maldonado     Williams-Cosworth          +     1 lap
19.  Kovalainen    Lotus-Renault              +    2 laps
20.  Trulli        Lotus-Renault              +    2 laps
21.  Glock         Virgin-Cosworth            +    2 laps
22.  D'Ambrosio    Virgin-Cosworth            +    2 laps
23.  Liuzzi        HRT-Cosworth               +    3 laps
24.  Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth               +    3 laps

Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:41.852

Not classified/retirements:

Driver        Team                         On lap


World Championship standings, round 8:                

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Vettel       186        1.  Red Bull-Renault          295
 2.  Webber       109        2.  McLaren-Mercedes          206
 3.  Button       109        3.  Ferrari                   129
 4.  Hamilton      97        4.  Renault                    61
 5.  Alonso        87        5.  Mercedes                   58
 6.  Massa         42        6.  Sauber-Ferrari             27
 7.  Rosberg       32        7.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         16
 8.  Petrov        31        8.  Force India-Mercedes       12
 9.  Heidfeld      30        9.  Williams-Cosworth           4
10.  Schumacher    26       
11.  Kobayashi     25       
12.  Sutil         10       
13.  Alguersuari    8       
14.  Buemi          8       
15.  Barrichello    4       
16.  Perez          2       
17.  Di Resta       2       
       
All timing unofficial
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