Sebastian Vettel Has a ‘Fun Race’ as He Extends Lead in F-1 Standings
Sebastian Vettel stretched his lead in the Formula One drivers’ standings as he and teammate Mark Webber clinched a one-two finish for Red Bull in yesterday’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
McLaren’s Jenson Button was third after the 44 laps as defending series champion Vettel increased his advantage to 92 points, with a win worth 25. Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was fourth and Mercedes’s Michael Schumacher fifth.
Vettel finished 3.7 seconds ahead of his teammate. It was his seventh win of the season, the 17th of his career, and his first in the past four races as the Red Bulls’ superior power was too much for their rivals. It was the second one-two finish for Red Bull this season.
“All in all, it was a really fun race with plenty of overtaking,” Vettel, a 24-year-old German, told reporters at a press conference for the top three drivers. “The car was fantastic, the pace was there and that’s why I think we are sitting up here now.”
The performance by Button, the 2009 series champion, was a highlight of the race as he carved his way through the field from 13th on the grid to finish third. Schumacher, a six-time winner at Spa, battled from last place on the grid.
Webber had a bad start as the anti-stall on his car kicked in and he dropped down the field, with Rosberg briefly taking the lead as several cars were involved in early collisions. Both Vettel and teammate Webber had tires that were damaged from qualifying so they made early pit stops for replacements.
Hamilton, the 2008 series champion and winner at Spa last year, crashed out on the 13th lap after his car touched the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi.
“I’m not really quite sure what happened,” Hamilton told the British Broadcasting Corp. “I hit the wall pretty hard. As far as I was concerned I was ahead of whoever I was racing and then I was hit by them. We were massively slow on the straights, I guess that’s why we were in that position. But we might at least have got a podium.”
After an intervention by the safety car that followed Hamilton’s accident, Alonso was at the head of the race, followed by the Red Bull duo and Rosberg.
Alonso, Vettel and Webber exchanged the lead between them before, on lap 32, Webber made another pit stop, allowing Button to take the lead. Vettel almost immediately re-took the top spot thanks to his new tires.
After more pit stops, Alonso moved into second behind Vettel but his harder tires were not producing pace and he couldn’t hold off the challenge of Webber and Button, who overtook the Spaniard to clinch podium positions as Vettel cruised to victory.
“It was a case of what might have been, but all in all, from starting 13th it’s good to have finished on the podium,” Button said.
Vettel said he and Webber had concerns about their tires before the race.
“Surprisingly the pace was good, I was able to reclaim the lead, and after the safety car it was more about management than usual,” he said. “The car worked brilliantly, so I’m very happy with the result, in particular with how we managed the tires.”
Vettel has 259 points in the drivers’ standings, followed by Webber (167), Alonso (157), Button (149) and Hamilton (146).
Red Bull leads the constructors’ competition with 426 points, while McLaren has 295 and Ferrari 231.
The next event, the 13th on the 19-race calendar, is the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on Sept. 11.
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