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Red Bull F1

Sebastian Vettel takes the (red) bull by its horn at the 2011 Barcelona F1 GP

Barcelona - Dubai - Cairo /

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver and 2008 Formula 1 world championship Lewis Hamilton made it a thrilling Barcelona race on Sunday as he chased Sebastian Vettel from the 20th to the checkered flag. The reigning world champion had to work every centimeter of the race-track as he took his fourth victory of the season for Red Bull out of five races, and the two drivers were only separated by a marginal 0.6s after more than 300 kilometers of flat-out racing.

The Spanish crowd broke out in an ecstatic euphoria at the start when Ferrari driver and former Formula 1 double world champion Fernando Alonso jump started through from fourth place to dive down the inside of pole setter and Red Bull driver Mark Webber going into the first corner. It was the introduction to a disappointing afternoon for the Australian, who had been primarily focusing on keeping his team mate and 2010 world champion Sebastian Vettel behind him at any cost and didn't spot the emerging Ferrari in time.

Spanish Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso stayed it in the lead until his first of four pit stops on the 10th lap, and his second on the 19th, but thereafter the race for the top spot on the podium was between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, who stopped initially on Laps Nine and 11 and then 18 and 23 respectively, thus following the four times pit stop strategy.

As the race went on, Fernando Alonso kept frustrated Mark Webber at bay, whereas Vodafone McLaren Mercedes' Jenson Button fought his way back from a terrible start that dropped him initially from fifth on the grid to 10th at the end of the opening lap.

Spanish Ferrari driver Alonso was third when he pitted for the penultimate time on the 29th lap, and again he held off Webber, but the Spaniard soon blistered a set of hard tires and gradually dropped away as he had to make his final stint of hard Pirellis last from the 39th lap to the end.

The leading duo Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton on the other end offered premium league chase, which pumped the adrenalin of spectators who followed the race both life and on TV. The gap fluctuated between two seconds and half a second, but in a race in which DRS failed to generate appropriate overtaking action as had been expected, a 0.6s to 0.7s stalemate set in over the final 15 laps and Vettel worked the traffic well to maintain this small but crucial advantage after a super-cool drive.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was a heroic second, and McLaren picked up the third podium place after three-stopping Button made the most of his final set of soft tires to jump the slowing Alonso and Webber by treating his last set of tires in a very fine and delicate manner. Red Bull driver MarkWebber fought back at first after his final stop, but was 12.2s behind the 2009 champion by the flag, and Button in turn was 35s adrift of his team mate.

Fernando Alonso, who was over-lapped, crossed the finish line in fifth place, ahead of the dueling Mercedes GP. Seven times world champion Michael Schumacher kept team mate Nico Rosberg behind him to take his best result of the season with sixth. By the end, Nick Heidfeld's heady race from the last spot of the grid in his Renault saw him only four-tenths away from Nico Rosberg, who was disconnected for a long time from the pits due to a technical failure of the radio.

It was a good day for Sauber, with Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi driving hard races for ninth and 10th, the Japanese driver hit back after being delayed by a puncture picked up on the opening lap.

Renault's Vitaly Petrov faded from the points in the closing laps, but was too far ahead for Paul di Resta to challenge after another race in which the Scottish rookie comfortably beat his more experienced Force India team mate Adrian Sutil as they both stopped only three times.

Sebastien Buemi fought hard all the way through but couldn’t better 14th for Toro Rosso, just two-tenths ahead of Pastor Maldonado in the lead Williams. The Venezuelan finished well ahead of Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari and team mate Rubens Barrichello, while Jarno Trulli was the first Lotus home with 18th place after a strong midfield run in which he led team mate Heikki Kovalainen until the Finn crashed due to driver error.

Virgin had to play second fiddle initially to Tonio Liuzzi's HRT, but Timo Glock eventually caught and passed the Italian, who later-on retired. The German led home his Belgian team mate Jerome D’Ambrosio, with Narain Karthikeyan 21st and last for HRT. The Indian racing driver was heavily criticized by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, as he did not immediately clear the road for the British driver while being overlapped, who therefore lost valuable time in his chase for race leader Sebastian Vettel.
Besides Liuzzi and Kovalainen, the other retiree was Felipe Massa, who had a very tough race in his Ferrari and dropped from a low points-scoring position thanks to a gearbox problem.

German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel now leads the Formula 1 2011 drivers' standings with 118 points to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Lewis Hamilton's 77, Mark Webber's 67, Jenson Button's 61 and Fernando Alonso's 51, while Red Bull Racing extend their score to 185 from Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 138 and Ferrari's 75.

The four drivers Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Jaime Alguersuari were all investigated after the race regarding yellow flag infringements, and all were subsequently rebuked.



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