Untouchable Vettel romps to Silverstone victory (British Grand Prix review)

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Sebastian Vettel scored his second win of 2009

Sebastian Vettel obliterated his rivals at Silverstone, leading team mate Mark Webber home in a one-two finish for the rampant Red Bulls.

Jenson Button was unable to deliver the result the home crowd wanted – he slumped to his worst finish of the year, sixth, which was no better than where he qualified.

Bad start for Button

In the run-up to the race the Brawn team were talking about how warm weather and sunshine was what their car needed. They didn’t get it.

Vettel took off from pole position at a blistering pace. With Webber third, bottled up behind Barrichello, the leader left the rest of the field behind at over a second per lap.

Meanwhile Button’s race started slowly. It was nothing like as bad as his team mate’s start at Istanbul, the Briton losing only three places, but that left him ninth.

He quickly set about working on Felipe Massa’s Ferrari, relieving the Brazilian of eighth position on the second lap. But that left him stuck behind Jarno Trulli, and the Toyota proved a much tougher prospect. Not only did Button fail to find a way past Trulli, but the pair came in for their first pit stops together, and left the pits in the same order as well.

Webber sets up Red Bull one-two

Further ahead, Vettel’s heavier fuel load meant that by the time he came in for his pit stop all his nearest rivals had been and gone. He didn’t lose the lead at his first pit stop and returned to the track just ahead of Massa, who was running a long first stint having started 11th.

A significant change of position had occurred a little further back. Despite running a short first stint he was able to jump ahead of Barrichello and take second, but even one-third of the way into the race his prospects of catching his team mate looked remote.

Raikkonen also got himself back ahead of Button via the first pit stops, but with six laps’ less fuel on board was doomed to lose the position again later.

Hamilton struggles at home

The other British driver had made little progress from his starting position of 19th, and spent his first stint stuck behind the more heavily-fuelled Robert Kubica. McLaren had once again banked on a light-fuel strategy giving Hamilton a chance to make up places but either the MP4-24 or the driver lacked the wherewithal to do it (probably the former).

Hamilton spent the middle part of the race doing battle with the Renaults. Eventually the more heavily-fuelled sister McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen made his pit stop and returned to the track in front of Hamilton.

In a repeat of last year (though not in competition for the lead of the race) Hamilton slotted down the inside of Kovalainen at Stowe. Sebastien Bourdais now embarked on an over-optimistic lunge to pass at Vale, succeeding only in removing his own front wing and damaging Kovalainen’s car. Both limped back to the pits, resumed racing, and then returned once more to the pits and retirement.

This was the only dramatic point in an otherwise processional affair. Button found good pace on his final set of tyres and reeled in fifth-placed Nico Rosberg at over a second per lap. But once he got within a second of the Williams he couldn’t find any way of getting close enough to mount a challenge.

Massa climbs to fourth

Webber’s long second stint meant he was at least able to lead a few laps, thus denying his team mate the ultimate result of a win from pole position with fastest lap and leading every lap. But the dominance of Vettel’s victory cannot be under-stated: it was an emphatic, crushing drive, and if he’s got a few more of those up his sleeve this championship isn’t over by a long shot.

The finishing order made it clear that a long first stint was the way to go: Massa finished fourth after starting 11th, while Kazuki Nakajima ended the race 11th having started a lightly-fuelled fifth.

Trulli and Raikkonen rounded out the points finishers with Timo Glock ninth and Giancarlo Fisichella making the top ten, once again demonstrating Force India’s progress.

Nelson Piquet Jnr, 11th, made a rare finish ahead of team mate Fernando Alonso, with Robert Kubica’s BMW sandwiched between the two. Behind Nick Heidfeld’s BMW was the first of the McLarens, Lewis Hamilton, a miserable 16th, the team point-less for a fourth consecutive race. Adrian Sutil was the last finisher, having started from the pit lane after his qualifying crash.

Vettel’s win sets him up for his home race in three weeks’ time. Another performance like this and the championship many had written off will be alive once again.

Driver of the day

My driver of the day was Sebastian Vettel. It may seem a bit obvious to pick the pole sitter and race winner but he stamped his authority on this race from the word go. Not only did he blow his rivals away, but he sent a message to his own team that he, and not Mark Webber, is the driver to back for the championship.

But an honourable mention must go to Felipe Massa, who turned a poor starting position into an excellent finish.

Who was your driver of the day?

Read more: Rate the race: British Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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46 comments on “Untouchable Vettel romps to Silverstone victory (British Grand Prix review)”

  1. Fisichella deserves a mention. Started 16th, finished 10th. But Vettel put in an awesome drive. A worthy driver of the day.

  2. I think Fisichella should get a honorable mention as well. He beat Nakajima from 16th on the grid.

  3. Yep, Vettel without a doubt and agree with the Fisi observation above. Would have loved a point for Force India too.
    I think Massa is generally driving really well given the obvious problems with the car. 4th was certainly at least one better than he probably thought possible.

    I’d like to give a shout for Lewis too – he was constantly over driving that McLaren and I guess he was just trying to put on the best show he could for the home fans knowing it would always be for nothing. I didn’t get that vibe from Jenson a bit too much of the points game creeping in…

    1. Agreed Hamilton put on a great show in a useless McLaren.

      The donuts he did at the end were a nice touch too.

  4. Fisichella did fantastic. Shame Force India still haven’t got a point.

    Button really didn’t look anything special – he seemed to not be bothered about the race right from the start because he knew he couldn’t win.

    Vettel was just brilliant today and really silenced the critics.

    1. Yeah Vettel was best. Button was definately bothered though, he sounded pretty angry on the radio that he was so slow.

      1. He did sound pretty angry but only seemed to come alive in the final stint

  5. Driver of the day: Fisico.

    He made a double overtaking in Alonso and Heidfeld in 5th lap… I think it is the pass of the year so far…

    1. Agreed, he made that pass on Heidfeld, who made similar passes TWICE in last year’s race.

  6. Fisichella definitely. That pass on the two cars (was it Alonso and Heidfeld?) who ran wide was well timed. If that didn’t happen, he would be scrapping with the BMWs too.

    Was rooting for Force India to get a point, but looks like all the cars are superb on reliability. Gone are the days where you see engine blowing up on track.

  7. Yes! I was hoping for a 1 – 2 finish. I said it would happen and it did. That just gave me a bunch of points in my pool.
    I was really impressed with Nakajima at certain points. I was hoping he would finish better than what he did, but at least he didn’t spin out or crash.

  8. Let’s hope Vettel can make this championship interesting again.

    1. Need a couple of Button DNF’s for that to happen but that new Red Bull is very quick.

      1. yep, 2 dnfs would do it.

  9. still waiting another 2 hours for the american broadcast. meanwhile, they’re playing nonstop infomercials. fox/speed already does a poor job as broadcaster, so i’m having serious doubts about next year’s coverage.

    1. i just watched the bbc show – another excellent production. a generous nap spared me from too much legard.

  10. Massa is my driver of the day. I didn’t think he would fare well, but w/ a good strategy and steady pace he did it.

  11. massa is my driver of the day.although F60 is not performing this year,massa made it a lot of times,especially todays 4th is fantastic.

  12. everydody knows ferraris F60 is worse in hard tyres,so the strategy which was followed today,i mean using the hard tyres in the last 13 or 12 laps is the best thing to get a good result.yet an another couple of laps more in the second stint would have brought massa to 3rd.

    1. That’s exactly what I was thinking.

      Felipe came back out for his second stint with quite a gap to next car. Ferrari could have easily put a few more laps of fuel in and, with hindsight, Felipe probably would have snatched 3rd in the second round of pitstops from Rubens – he stopped only two laps after.

      Easy to say after the race is over though. This time Ferrari is not to blame.

  13. Absolutely agree – Seb and Felipe was superb today!
    Also want to point Haidfeld as Anti-hero. He ruined race for four rivals when there was nothing to gain for himself after start collision.

  14. I agree with most, you can’t look past Vettel for driver of the day. Some good work by Fisi and some good scraps lower down the field but Vettel was in a class of his own.

    As I’ve said on another article, what remains is for Vettel to win from further back, rather than having a free run from pole position, to fully silence his critics. We all know he’s extremely quick, but on occasion he hasn’t shown good race craft.

    Button’s start was massively compromised by Trulli. He actually got off the line well, but was blocked by a slow starting Trulli which cost him a few places. Which is a shame because I could have done with some more prediction points!

  15. Vettel was unstoppable. I filmed the cars on lap 11, even that early on his lead was massive, and he wasn’t short of lapping the back markers!

  16. No mention of Piquet beating Alonso today from anyone…

    1. StrFerrari4Ever
      21st June 2009, 21:31

      I was about to say that too bad because he outclassed Nando showed he can race just needs sometime and support he’ll come good unlike Bourdais…Grrr

      1. And to think he trumped his opposition in Champ Car. I guess it says something about the drivers he competed against back then.

      2. Yes Bourdais was a bit silly :P He may have been able to pull an ambitious move like that in Champcar but not F1

  17. StrFerrari4Ever
    21st June 2009, 21:30

    My driver of the day has to be Vettel that was a display of speed , consistency and class.A second a lap is absolutely amazing and to hear him a bit peeved off when told to calm it down a bit showed his intent to keep pushing & finally those critics who said he can only win in the wet he proved them wrong and i can say to those who said he makes too many mistakes and isn’t there yet shove it where someone in prison gets it shoved in :D

  18. Vettel, very impressive – ominous in a Schumacher-esque kinda way….
    From a Stowe spectators point of view well Lewis of course, especially after the donuts, bless him.

  19. The donut he did during the race was good to see too :)

  20. Vettel superb drive well deserved win.

    Hamilton is struggling but nice moment on the Drivers parade when Button and Hamilton were being interviewed. Button was asked if he could win – before he could answer fully Hamilton put his hand on his shoulder and said ‘You can do it mate!’ – A touching moment for the British drivers!

    Silverstone was also a great venue, having being to Belgium in the past (Porta-loos and only Chips on the menu) – Silverstone is no comparison.

    Managed to run back to the campsite and get out before all the traffic – joy.

    MM or BE comments this evening about possible return to Silverstone is just positioning… to get Donny to hurry up (did they say possible 17 year contract to Silverstone – who in these times would commit to a 17 year contract – lets start with 5 and see how it goes…)


  21. It was such a dull race!…

    But it was cool to see Vettel’s onboard images every time he turned into the first corner without a single downshift nor braking.

    And it was nice to compare that with Lewis’ lack of grip, as he had to downshift to turn in the same corner. That for sure is already 3 tenths slower, in just 1 corner.

  22. * I had this posted on the “Rate the Race” post, but it seems more appropriate here.

    Nice last 3 or 4 laps with Button closing on Rosberg. It was never gonna happen though. Bourdais probably sealed his fate today. Webber looked disappointed on the podium. How do you compete with Vettel right now? Button better win the WC this year, ’cause it looks like Vettel is gonna have a lock on it for the next few years.
    Also, nice to se a GP that has more people on a Friday than some of the others, (Turkey, Bahrain, Maylasia), have all weekend. The British know how to do a GP.

  23. Driver of the day is Massa. Fantastic drive from 11th for 4th!

  24. What happened to Nakajima? In position for podium finish, he had a slightly botched pit stop but after that he just disappeared. After qualifying, I thought he would finally come good—I’ve been holding out for him to have a break out race. I have to say, both Williams drivers appear much better at racing the clock than the competition. Neither has done anything special in a race since Rosberg took fastest lap so long ago in Bahrain. You have to wonder what Hamilton or Kubica could be doing in that car.

    1. I would have been happy to see Kakajima do better but he was doomed by having such a light fuel load in the first stint.

      He had moved up to 4th at his pit stop, came out 11th. He then had a mountain to climb and there was no way.

    2. nakajima is world champion potential! thats what were going to see next year in F1, a champion with no fightback and race pace. rosberg is going to drive for a fota team and nakajima will be fist japanese champpion. BORING!!!

  25. Vettel. He delivered the goods in style.

    If you want a runner up, Massa. He has to be Ferrari’s hero of the day.

  26. Vettel & Massa

    But both Hamilton & Alonso proved that despite they are not in a championship winning car they still have the heat in them.

  27. Did manage to watch the whole race, got whisked away to a Father’s day do…my family just doesn’t get f1! Manage to watch up till the first round of stops, even at that point, didn’t look like Vettel would be caught unless something catastrophic happened.

    Brawn’s inability to maximise their tyres in cooler conditions will have bearing over the “European” leg of the season I believe. All they championship needs is a few cool sundays and vettel will be back in the reckoning…hope that happens..fingers crossed, but I still back Jens for the title.

    Really upset with Alonso’s performance. It was shocking how he just couldn’t get past Heidfelds BMW, it seemed he had very poor traction out of the corners and straight line speed wasn’t all that impressive either. That delay compromised his whole race, what a pity, finishing behind Piquet, I doubt he was impressed. Renault need to pick up the pace, they’re going from bad to worse.

    Seemed like the Beemers had good traction coming out of corners, Kubica managed to hold off Lewis as well when it was obvious the Mclaren was faster through the first sector. Similar case to the Heidfeld-Alonso battle.

  28. VETTEL!…he dominated this race and I am sure there are plenty left in him.

  29. Where was Kimi today by the way. Massa totally outclassed him today. Kimi is surely on the way out

  30. schumi the greatest
    22nd June 2009, 9:46

    vettel completley dominated…i was sitting in grandstand A on the pit straight he was just streaking away!

    Good to see hamilton battling hard even for the minor places with kubica and alonso, jenson just struggled all weekend.

    I think someone mentioned it, lewis encouraging jenson on the drivers parade. lewis gets alot of stick from some people for always saying the right things but i think he genuinley does appreciate the fans support for him. the doughnuts were great although im sure he’ll receive a fine for it.

    i think mclaren have a big update die for germany so i hope that works for lewis and the team.

    great atmosphere at the circuit despite the lack of british success

  31. Yes, good point made about Friday – so many people. And what exactly is the prob with Silverstone now Bernie, facilities are good & I was home in west London by 5pm!!

  32. As great as Red Bull taking the fight to Brawn would be, lets not get too hasty here.

    It seems to me that the Brawn Achilles Heel is low track temperatures, and that Brawn has simply fallen back rather than Red Bull moving forward.

    The true test will be where the Brawn is able to operate fully, and the Red Bull still beats them. Belgium and possibly Germany aside, the rest of the season should not hinder Brawn as much as Silverstone did.

  33. yipee!!! Fight-on… Now that the Red Bull has improved further, it could be an interesting title-race… The championship was becoming to get a bit boring with the Brawn-Button domination… Here my take on the British Grand Prix

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