Sebastian Vettel fumes at lost chance in Valencia GP
Sebastian Vettel has no doubt he would've claimed a third successive European Grand Prix win had his Red Bull not let him down with the race there for the taking.
It was a day of high drama in Valencia that saw Fernando Alonso clinch his second win of the year and the championship lead, Michael Schumacher post his first podium finish since coming out of retirement and Lewis Hamilton forced out on the penultimate lap. But it was
the German’s stunning capitulation that had everyone talking.
Starting from pole, the double world champion had dominated the opening 33 laps before his car suddenly lost power after racing had restarted following a safety car period.
And the usually ice-cool Vettel’s rage was clear to see as he threw his gloves into the fence after bringing his stricken vehicle to a halt.
“I lost drive and I had to stop. Why? I don’t know,” he said. “There’s not much we could have done better, but with reliability we all work on the limit.
“Up to that point we had had a perfect start, perfect pit stop, a perfect race. I think everyone can see what would have happened [had I finished the race].”
The safety car was deployed after tyre and wheel debris were left on the track from a clash between Heikki Kovalainen and Jean-Eric Vergne. Ferrari flyer Alonso then made the most of Vettel’s bad luck, climbing from 11th on the grid to edge out Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus and become the first repeat winner of the season.
With two of biggest rivals in Vettel and Hamilton failing to finish, it’s allowed the Spaniard to make a decisive move in the title race he now leads by 20 points over Red Bull’s Mark Webber.
And with the added bonus taking the chequered flag in front of his home fans, his first at the Valencia Street Circuit, Alonso was quick to rate it as one of his greatest triumphs.
“It’s difficult to express in words my feelings,” he said. “This is a special team - Ferrari - with the grandstands full of Spanish flags and the fans in red. I’m feeling very proud to be a Spanish sportsman, and this is the best victory I’ve felt in terms of emotions.”
Raikkonen, whose Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean appeared to be closing in on Alonso before also being forced out after 40 laps, didn’t feel a win was possible as he said: “In the end second place is okay, but not what we wanted.”
Meanwhile, McLaren man Hamilton came into the race holding a two-point advantage over Alonso, but that has now morphed to a 23-point deficit. The 2008 world champion was left seething after being knocked off the track by Pastor Maldonado’s Williams while trying to defend third place, the Brit pounding the steering wheel in fury before tossing it from the cockpit.
However, Hamilton was in no mood to discuss the incident after the race, saying: “It was a tough day for us, but that’s life. You have to deal with it. We were a long way off winning today.”
So long has Michael Schumacher had to wait for a podium finish, the German legend revealed he didn’t even realise he had clinched third place in Valencia. Yesterday’s incident-packed European Grand Prix saw Schumacher in the top three for the first time since he stepped out of retirement in 2010. And he said: “I didn’t actually think about the podium at all. I crossed the line at the end and I asked the team where I’d finished, and they said third, a podium. It was pretty exciting, and probably the best way to do it.”