Red Bull’s Renault engine liaison Cyril Dumont summed up the consequences of the revised rules on engine mappings in Valencia: “the rules have changed, but not the results”.
Sebastian Vettel romped to an easy victory and Mark Webber joined him on the podium.
|Sebastian Vettel||Mark Webber|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’36.975 (-0.188)||1’37.163|
Red Bull drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
On Friday Vettel tested the changes Red Bull intend to run on their car at Silverstone when the full force of the restrictions on ‘hot-blown’ diffusers comes into effect.
He got down to business on Saturday, topping final practice and clinching his seventh pole position of the year.
It was business as usual on Sunday as he was never seriously threatened for the lead. He only lost it for one lap following his pit stop.
Throughout the weekend he’d faced questions about whether the engine mapping changes would erode Red Bull’s advantage, and whether his last-lap slip in Montreal had showed he was vulnerable under pressure.
A crushing win, which puts him 77 points clear in the title chase, was the perfect response to all that.
Even so, he says he’s not getting distracted by thoughts of the championship yet: “I don’t look at the gap. It is a long season.
“We have had a phenomenal start to the season and to continue that way is our target. But we have to go step-by-step and take every single race as it comes.
“Surely we don’t have to win by taking too much risks but the target is to win races.”
Webber felt he had his strongest race of the year so far. He joined Vettel on the front row of the grid but lost out in a race-long battle with Fernando Alonso.
Alonso passed Webber in the DRS zone on lap 21. But a good call on the timing of his second pit stop allowed Webber to take the place back.
His final pit stop, to switch to medium tyres, was not so well-timed. Alonso hung on for three more laps on the soft tyres, eking out the margin he needed to stay ahead.
Traffic offered Webber a brief opportunity to get past, but shortly afterwards his gearbox began to play up.
The team told him to short-shift and later said the unit was overheating. (If they need to replace it at Silverstone, he will not get a penalty, because the first gearbox change is free).
Webber took responsibility for the pit call that cost him second place: “It was my fault basically not the team’s.
“I was worried about Fernando coming underneath me around the stops and it was not really known how the medium tyre would perform on the out lap.
“For sure, it is not as good as the soft but is it better than an old soft? That was the risk I decided to take. I lost out.
“Fernando stayed out for a few more laps and also I came out behind a little bit of traffic so my fault we missed second today and Fernando drove a good race.”
2011 European Grand Prix
Image © Red Bull/Getty images