Red Bull happy and relieved
Red Bull team-mates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were about the only ones with something to celebrate at the European Formula One
Grand Prix - although for different reasons.
"I am lucky to be in one piece," said the Australian Webber after walking away unhurt from a horror crash in which his car
flipped over in midair after he drove into the back of Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus.
"The car, thank God, was very safe," said Webber. "I am OK. I lost some points, but in the end when you're up there,
you're not worried about points, I was worried that I was OK."
Vettel, meanwhile, finally stayed out of all trouble as he handily got his second victory from the pole position.
"It's about time I won from pole," said the German. "It's good to be back winning and on a circuit where we didn9t expect
to be that strong. It's good to get a lot of championship points."
Vettel topped the Valencia podium from McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button who had finished one-two in the previous two
races. Hamilton extended his lead atop the standings with 127 points. Button has 121 and Vettel moved from fifth to third with 115. McLaren
extended its lead of the constructors' championship.
However, there was plenty of controversy, especially from Fernando Alonso and his Ferrari team who were very unhappy that Hamilton still
came second despite a drive-through penalty for overtaking the safety car when it came on to the track after Webber's crash.
"Fernando Alonso reopens old wounds as Lewis Hamilton extends lead," said British paper The Guardian on Monday.
The two had a bitter rivalry at McLaren in the past with the disgruntled Alonso quitting the team after just one year, citing favouritism
Alonso eventually finished eighth on Sunday in his home country, after being bumped up one place as several other drivers were also
punished for driving too fast in the initial safety car phase.
"The race was ruined by the safety car and everything that followed on from that," fumed Alonso. "I am very bitter about
what happened today. I was in third place, a metre behind Hamilton at the moment the safety car came out on track and, at the chequered
flag, he was second and I was ninth, even though we had made the same choice of strategy."
Team boss Stefano Domenicali agreed: "The outcome of this grand prix leaves us with a very bitter taste. I think that the incidents
linked to the neutralisation put some questions on the table regarding how to manage situations like this and the eventual penalties linked
to them. We have to ensure that our sport remains credible in the eyes of those involved and those who follow it."
La Gazzetta dello Sport said on Monday: "Scandal Hamilton, Ferrari deceived," and La Repubblica spoke of "Formula
Chaos." Also not amused over the safety car stage was Mercedes which had to swallow a 10th place finish from Nico Rosberg and a dismal
15th from Michael Schumacher who was so far back in the race that after pitting he had to comply with regulations and wait at the red light
at the pit exit.
"We would like to have clarification about the safety car situation as the red light on the exit from my first pit stop destroyed a
race which otherwise would have offered us very good possibilities," Schumacher said.
Authors: Claas Hennig, John Bagratuni