2010 European Grand Prix
|Race 9 of 19 in the 2010 Formula One season|
The Valencia Street Circuit
|Date||June 27, 2010|
|Official name||LIV Grand Prix of Europe|
|Location||Valencia Street Circuit, Valencia, Spain|
|Course||Temporary street circuit|
|Course length||5.419 km (3.367 mi)|
|Distance||57 laps, 308.883 km (191.931 mi)|
|Time||1:38.766 on lap 54|
The 2010 European Grand Prix (formally the LIV European Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held on the June 27, 2010 at the Valencia Street Circuit in Valencia, Spain. The race, contested over 57 laps, was the ninth round of the 2010 Formula One season. It was won by Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing, who led every lap of the race after starting on pole position. The McLaren team-mates of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finished second and third respectively, to complete the podium. Button also set the fasest lap of the race.
As a consequence of the race, Hamilton extended his lead of the World Drivers' Championship to seven points over Button. This ensured the pair would enter the next, and their home race - the British Grand Prix - as first and second in the championship. Vettel's second race victory of the season moved him up to third in standings; he became six points behind Button after surpassing the totals of teammate Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso. By gaining the most points from the race, McLaren extended their lead in the World Constructors' Championship to thirty over Red Bull. Race winners Red Bull also extended the gap, as third placed Ferrari became fifty-three points behind in the standings.
Several of the leading teams introduced upgrades for the race, most notably Ferrari, who after a poor start to the season pinned their hopes of a resurgence on the Valencia upgrade. This package included a version of Red Bull's "blown diffuser" design, which involved channeling hot air from the exhaust through the diffuser. Mercedes and Renault had been less-public about their upgrades, both of which included blown diffusers, and in Mercedes' case, an F-duct. Red Bull also experimented with the system again, and were quick to downplay the effects of the blown diffuser concept. Reigning World Champion Jenson Button speculated that the teams would struggle with blown diffusers if they had been rushed into development in time for the race, and the hot exhaust air had the potential to cause overheating problems.
After running the device in Friday practice, Red Bull decided to use their interpretation of the F-duct for the rest of the weekend, the first race of the year where they did so.
The first free practice saw several line-up changes, with Paul di Resta fulfilling driving duties for Adrian Sutil at Force India as team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi had never driven the Valencia circuit before, and Christian Klien taking Karun Chandhok's place at Hispania to provide set-up feedback.
The session was clean and incident-free, save for a minor stoppage early on after Bruno Senna lost a rear vision mirror and the debris was cleared away; the circuit was re-opened within five minutes. Nico Rosberg claimed the fastest time, ahead of the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button to give Mercedes–engined cars the fastest three times of the session. Robert Kubica claimed fourth ahead of Felipe Massa, whilst Massa's Ferrari stablemate and local favourite Fernando Alonso could only manage ninth place behind Michael Schumacher, another newcomer to the circuit. Heikki Kovalainen was once again the fastest driver from the new teams as Lotus continued to close the gap to the established teams, with the Virgin of Timo Glock also standing out, a second slower than Kovalainen, but two and a half seconds faster than Senna.
The second session was interrupted when Massa stalled on the circuit in the first sector, bringing about another temporary halt to the proceedings. Alonso went on to set the fastest time of the session, edging out a constant challenge from the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, and by the end of the session, the top ten drivers were covered by less than a second. Sutil and Chandhok resumed driving duties, with Sutil breaking into the top ten; Chandhok, on the other hand, languished down in 24th place after mechanical problems had limited his car – at the time being driven by Klien – in the morning session. After claiming the first session's fastest time, Rosberg kept Mercedes in the top four as Schumacher failed to make the top ten, while Glock caused a minor disturbance when his Virgin stopped on the circuit.
The first session very nearly saw the early elimination of Michael Schumacher as the German driver wrestled with a suspected power steering problem. After several untidy laps, Schumacher needed to find a few tenths of a second that had so far eluded him in the session on his final lap. He narrowly succeeded as one of the last cars to cross the line, and relegating Kamui Kobayashi to the elimination zone. Kobayashi joined the familiar line-up of Lotus, Virgin and Hispania, with Jarno Trulli out-qualifying his team mate to be the best of the newcomers. Lucas di Grassi out-qualified team-mate Timo Glock for the first time in 2010, leaving Renault's Vitaly Petrov as the only man who had failed to out-qualify his own team-mate.
Schumacher was fighting a losing battle in the second round of qualifying, and was ultimately able to do no better than fifteenth, one of his worst qualifying performances since his debut. Precisely how much of this was down to the driver and how much was down to the car is open to debate, as team-mate Nico Rosberg also failed to make the grade, qualifying his Mercedes W01 in twelfth, no more than half a second faster than Schumacher. Toro Rosso's Sébastien Buemi blamed Williams driver Rubens Barrichello for impeding him on his final lap and thus denying him in a place in the final session, though the incident was not investigated by the stewards and the Swiss driver qualified eleventh ahead of Rosberg. Also eliminated were the two Force Indias of Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi in thirteenth and fourteenth respectively, with Pedro de la Rosa and Jaime Alguersuari qualifying between Schumacher and the new teams.
The elimination of Mercedes left the door open for other drivers, with Petrov and Nico Hülkenberg seizing the advantage and qualifying in Q3 for the second time in the season, and Hülkenberg's first time in the dry. Fernando Alonso was the early pace-setter, but a scruffy second lap – and a similarly crude follow-through by team-mate Massa – handed the advantage to anyone willing to take it. The Red Bulls showed their true pace in Q3, once again locking out the front row of the grid and denying Alonso pole in his second home race at the same time. Mark Webber took second after claiming provisional pole from Alonso early on, but Sebastian Vettel prevailed, claiming his first pole since Shanghai on a circuit he has never scored points on. Lewis Hamilton beat Fernando Alonso to third, whilst Felipe Massa qualified one place behind his team-mate in fifth. A late run from Robert Kubica was only good enough for sixth place despite setting a time similar to the first qualifying session, which would have been good enough for pole position if the grid were decided after Q1. Jenson Button had an anonymous Q3 to take seventh, while Hülkenberg and Barrichello claimed eighth and ninth place on the grid by setting identical – to the thousandth of a second – lap times. Petrov filled tenth place, the Russian driver just under a second off Vettel's time.
The race began with Hamilton beating Webber off the line and attempting a brave pass down the inside of Vettel at the first corner that result in contact. Hamilton's car was slightly damaged in the process, though he was able to continue racing. Further down in the field, Jarno Trulli tangled with one of the Virgins and damaged his front wing, whilst Nico Rosberg was forced wide at the fourth corner and strayed into the no-man's land of the run-off. The first lap was otherwise clean, with Vettel establishing a large lead.
Drama unfolded on the ninth lap when Mark Webber attempted to pass Heikki Kovalainen on the approach to turn thirteen. The Red Bull made contact with the back of the Lotus, resulting in Webber's car flipping. The Australian landed upside-down before bouncing back over and careering into the tyre wall in an accident similar to Josef Král's in the GP2 support race earlier in the day and Webber's incidents at the 1999 Le Mans 24 Hours, in which his Mercedes-Benz CLR twice became airborne. Webber emerged from the accident unscathed, whilst Kovalainen, who had spun off into the wall, drove slowly back to the pits where he retired with collision damage.
Webber's accident triggered a controversial moment in the race. The safety car was deployed onto the circuit as the leaders finished the lap, but too late to pick up first place Vettel. Hamilton, in second, also had the opportunity to beat the safety car before it joined the track. However Hamilton initially hesitated prior to committing to going by and the delay meant that the safety car had just crossed the official pit-exit line. The two Ferraris and the Renault of Kubica became the first cars to queue up behind the safety car, while the rest of the field had enough notice to divert to the pitlane for their first stop. The significance of these events was that both Vettel and Hamilton were able to make their first stops before their advantage over the rest of the field was cancelled out by catching the safety car, while Alonso, Massa and Kubica fell down the order. After Alonso/Ferrari complained, the 2008 World Champion was served with a drive-through penalty. However, it took the stewards twenty minutes to settle on a verdict, and when Hamilton served his penalty from second place, he suffered no change in position; Alonso complained to his garage that he felt it was unfair and Ferrari concurred as they felt they should have been racing Hamilton. In a related incident, nine drivers—Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Nico Hülkenberg, Robert Kubica, Vitaly Petrov, Adrian Sutil, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Sébastien Buemi and Pedro de la Rosa—were all cited for speeding on their in-laps in the wake of the Webber-Kovalainen crash.
The biggest winner from the carnage was Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi. In stark contrast to Montreal, where tyres were rapidly degrading, Kobayashi was able to set the then-fastest lap of the race after spending forty laps on the harder prime compound. As he did not pit under the safety car, he was promoted to third on the road, and would emerge in ninth when he pitted. He would later catch Alonso at the bottom of the circuit as he enjoyed the additional levels of grip the softer option compound offered, and moved on to take Buemi at the final corner of the final lap, finishing seventh for his efforts.
A similar accident to the Webber-Kovalainen collision was narrowly avoided when Timo Glock challenged Bruno Senna late in the race. The Hispania and the Virgin collided, causing a puncture on Glock's car that very nearly threw him into the wall and forced him to pit, though his crew were not ready for him and he lost several seconds as the tyres were brought out. Senna remained out on the circuit with a damaged front wing, but pitted on the next lap. With Kovalainen out, Lotus's hopes rested on the shoulders of Trulli, but a gearbox problem after his early altercation almost ended his race. His team managed to get him back out and racing again, but he lost three laps to the leaders in the process. Elsewhere, Nico Hülkenberg was forced into retirement when his exhaust system exploded, damaging his rear bodywork and tyre.
Although serving a penalty had put some distance between them, Hamilton's pace in the later phase of the race meant that catching and passing Vettel, who had so far led the race unchallenged, was a possibility, but as the two drivers moved into the final laps of the race, Hamilton's grip peaked too soon and he was forced to settle for second place. Kobayashi's pit stop meant Button was promoted to third, followed by Barrichello, Kubica and Sutil twenty-five seconds adrift. Kobayashi's last-corner move on Buemi saw him home seventh, with the Swiss driver edging out Alonso. Pedro de la Rosa took the final point.
The stewards issued a five-second penalty to the nine cars that had been flagged for speeding under safety car conditions. Sébastien Buemi was demoted to ninth place, whilst the penalties to Pedro de la Rosa, Vitaly Petrov and Vitantonio Liuzzi demoted them to twelfth, fourteenth and sixteenth, respectively. Timo Glock was also given a twenty-second penalty for ignoring blue flags.
The aftermath was also the subject of controversy, with Fernando Alonso claiming that the outcome of the race was "manipulated" by the stewards with their late decision regarding a safety car infringement by Lewis Hamilton. Alonso had been following Hamilton at the time of the safety car was deployed and reported Hamilton to the stewards, who took twenty minutes to issue their ruling of a drive-through penalty. Alonso claimed that his chances of finishing on the podium were "ruined" by the ruling. Other teams – including Red Bull, Lotus and McLaren – rejected Alonso's accusations, with Lotus' technical director Mike Gascoyne stating "changing the safety car regulations had opened up a set of scenarios that had never been anticipated before. Hamilton passing the safety car is the only recorded example of a driver doing so in the modern era of Formula One." Ferrari subsequently argued for a change of safety car rules to prevent a similar situation occurring again.
|Pos||No||Driver||Constructor||Part 1||Part 2||Part 3||Grid|
|1||5||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1:38.324||1:38.015||1:37.587||1|
|2||6||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1:38.549||1:38.041||1:37.662||2|
|11||16||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:39.096||1:38.586||11|
|13||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:39.021||1:38.851||13|
|14||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1:38.969||1:38.884||14|
|16||22||Pedro de la Rosa||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:39.003||1:39.264||16|
|17||17||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:39.128||1:39.548||17|
|18||23||Kamui Kobayashi||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:39.343||18|
|21||25||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin-Cosworth||1:42.086||21|
- 1.^ – Button, Barrichello, Kubica, Sutil, Buemi, de la Rosa, Petrov and Liuzzi were given five-second time penalties for exceeding the safety car-in lap time. Hülkenberg was also given a five-second penalty, but he retired from the race.
- 2.^ – Glock was given a 20-second time penalty for failing to observe blue flags.
Championship standings after the race
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
- "Sebastian Vettel beats Lewis Hamilton in European GP". BBC Sport (BBC). 2010-06-27. Archived from the original on 27 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- Elizalde, Pablo (2010-06-27). "Angry Alonso says race 'manipulated'". Autosport (Haymarket Publications). Archived from the original on 30 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- Noble, Jonathan (2010-06-28). "Teams rubbish 'manipulated' race talk". Autosport (Haymarket Publications). Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- "Valencia results; Qualifying: Saturday, 26 June 2010". BBC Sport. BBC. 2010-06-26. Archived from the original on 28 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
- "Valencia results; Race: Sunday, 27 June 2010". BBC Sport. BBC. 2010-06-27. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- "Nine drivers given five-second penalties". Autosport (Haymarket Publications). 2010-06-27. Archived from the original on 30 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-27.
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2011 European Grand Prix