Update: Vettel Wins European Grand Prix, at Valencia

Sebastian Vettel cruised to his second win of the 2010 Formula One season on Sunday, as the Red Bull racer drove mistake-free from beginning to end in this weekend’s European Grand Prix. Starting from pole position, the German maintained his lead at the first corner, despite an early charge from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, after which he never let go of his 1st place.

His teammate Mark Webber started off poorly in Valencia and lost no less than 7 positions in the first lap, being the first to pit from the entire F1 field on Lap 8. Dropping down to 18th overall, the Australian started his recuperation race behind Lotus’ Heikki Kovalainen, but it all lasted for a single lap.

While trying to overtake the Finn, Webber’s car touched the rear of Kovalainen’s Lotus and was practically lifted into the air and projected upside down onto the track, after which it flipped back the right way and smashed into the tire barriers. Luckily, the Red Bull racer did not sustain any injuries in the accident.

That caused the first and only safety car of the race, meaning all the drivers visited the pits for tire change. When deployed, the SC joined the field just ahead of the two Ferraris driven by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, causing some major time damage for the two drivers.

After the pit stops, Vettel remained in 1st place, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Kamui Kobayashi, who decided not to change his tires early on. Alonso dropped to 10th place, while Massa rejoined the field in 15th place.

Shortly after the safety car went in, Alonso attacked Williams’ Nico Hulkenberg and went into 9th place, a position which he held until 3 laps to the finish line, when Kobayashi finally made his tire change stop. In the front of the field, Hamilton made huge efforts to catch Vettel, but was given a drive-through penalty for passing the SC on track and lost approximately 15 seconds in the process.

However, despite the drive-through penalty, Ham retained his 2nd place and went on to finish in the runner-up spot, ahead of his McLaren teammate Jenson Button. Fourth place went to Williams’ Rubens Barrichello, who finished ahead of Renault’s Robert Kubica and Force India’s Adrian Sutil.

Going in for a new set of tires 3 laps to the finish line, Kobayashi managed a spectacular surge from 9th to 7th in only one lap, passing both Alonso and STR’s Sebastien Buemi in the last few kilometers of the race. Buemi had to settle for 8th, ahead of Alonso, while the Top 10 was completed by the second BMW Sauber driver Pedro de la Rosa.

As the chequered flag was waved, uncertainty is the word of the day in Valencia, as a bunch of cars were announced to be investigated for their pit stop under SC rules. We'll keep you posted on what happens as soon as the FIA makes a decision.

Update: Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Nico Hulkenberg, Robert Kubica, Vitaly Petrov, Adrian Sutil, Sebastien Buemi, Pedro de la Rosa and Vitantonio Liuzzi have received 5-second penalties for "failing to stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU when the Safety Car was deployed." In the overall classification of the race, Alonso was lifted up one spot to 8th place, while Buemi dropped to 9th. Pedro de la Rosa lost his 10th place in favor of Nico Rosberg.
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