23 May 2011

Spanish Gran Prix goes down to wire

6:02 am on 23 May 2011

Red Bull's Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel took his fourth win in five races in a Spanish Grand Prix that shed its reputation for predictable processions.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton finished second, just 0.6 seconds behind, after harrying the 23-year-old German over the closing laps in a far closer finale to a race many had forecast would be a duel between the dominant Red Bulls.

Hamilton's team mate and fellow-Briton Jenson Button was third, beating Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber for the final place on the podium and helped by a three-stop strategy to the others' four.

However the stewards announced some 19 minutes after the end of the race that Hamilton, Button and Webber were all under investigation for failing to slow for yellow flags.

The rest of the field, including Ferrari's fifth placed local hero Fernando Alonso and sixth placed Michael Schumacher, were lapped.

Vettel stretched his championship lead over Hamilton, the 2008 champion and only man to have beaten him so far this year, to 41 points.

Even if Vettel's 14th career victory came as no surprise it still marked the first time since 2000, when Finland's Mika Hakkinen beat Michael Schumacher to the chequered flag, that the race was won by someone other than the driver starting on pole.