VALENCIA, Spain, June 23, 2011 (AFP) - Story of the 2011 Formula One season
ahead of the European Grand Prix on Sunday:
Australian Grand Prix - March 27
World champion Sebastian Vettel sounded a warning to his rivals with a dominating victory in his flying Red Bull on the Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne. It was Vettel's 11th win in his 63rd GP. The German 23-year-old led his rivals a merry dance from pole, beating McLaren's 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton by more than 22 seconds with Russian Vitaly Petrov third in a Lotus Renault.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso missed out on the podium in fourth place, while Vettel's Australian team-mate Mark Webber finished fifth for the third time in his home GP.
Standings: Vettel 25pts, Hamilton 18, Petrov 15
Malaysian Grand Prix - April 4
Vettel dominated with a brilliant drive to maintain his perfect start to the season, steering his Red Bull from pole to the chequered flag to win ahead of McLaren's Jenson Button, the 2009 champion, and Nick Heidfeld who finished third for Renault.
Vettel's second start-to-finish win in two outings this year came despite further problems with Red Bull's faulty Kinetic Energy Regeneration System (KERS) which gave Webber a nightmare start. The Australian dropped from third to 10th before storming back to finish fourth ahead of the Ferraris of Brazilian Felipe Massa and two-time champion Alonso.
Hamilton looked set for a podium spot but finished seventh after a slow pit stop and a struggle with worn tyres in the closing stages, the Briton demoted to eighth after picking up a time penalty.
Standings: Vettel 50 pts, Button 26, Hamilton 22
Chinese Grand Prix - April 17
Vettel's invincibility came to a juddering halt as a brilliant drive from Hamilton saw him take the chequered flag after the 26-year-old roared through the field in the final laps on fresh tyres to take his 15th career win.
Vettel finished second after one of his more unsatisfactory races, having been passed by Button on the first corner. Webber also produced a remarkable drive, coming from 18th on the grid to finish third. Ferrari failed to shine as Felipe Massa finished sixth and Alonso seventh.
Standings: Vettel 68pts, Hamilton 47, Button 38
Turkish Grand Prix - May 8
Vettel notched up his third win in four races this season with a near-flawless drive. The German led from his 19th career pole position to the chequered flag unchallenged, conceding the lead only once during his pit-stops and now has a 34-point lead in the championship.
It was the 13th win of his career and another day of celebration for the Red Bull team as Webber brilliantly overtook two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari to finish second. Hamilton was fourth.
Standings: Vettel 93pts, 2. Hamilton 59, 3. Webber 55
Spanish Grand Prix - May 22
Vettel claimed a narrow and dramatic victory ahead of Lewis Hamilton. The German Red Bull driver used clever strategy to steal the lead after starting second behind team-mate Mark Webber, resisting all that 2008 champion Hamilton could throw at him in the closing stages to finish six-tenths of a second ahead of the 26-year-old Briton for his fourth win in five races this season.
Hamilton's McLaren team-mate and fellow-Englishman Jenson Button finished third ahead of Webber, with two-times world champion Fernando Alonso in fifth.
Standings: Vettel 118pts, 2. Hamilton 77, 3. Webber 67
Monaco Grand Prix - May 29
Vettel won his first ever Monaco Grand Prix in an incident-packed race that saw the end raced largely under a red flag after promising Russian driver Vitaly Petrov crashed heavily and was taken to hospital, though, not with serious injuries. Vettel came home ahead of Alonso, recording Ferrari's best result of the season, while Button drove brilliantly but without luck to take third.
Hamilton fell further behind Vettel in the title race as he finished sixth, a drive through penalty didn't help his chances, and then aggravated the race stewards further by cracking a joke that he was penalised so often 'maybe because I am black' - it backfired and he had to apologise.
Standings: Vettel 143pts, 2. Hamilton 85, 3. Webber 79
Canadian Grand Prix - June 12
Button produced a superb drive to record his first win of the season - the 10th of his career - passing Vettel on the final lap of an extraordinary, dramatic, rain-delayed and crash-hit race. The 31-year-old Englishman, drove his McLaren car with great courage, speed and judgement after surviving an early collision with Hamilton.
Vettel had looked sure to win after leading from pole position both before and after a two-hour suspension due to torrential rain, but he buckled under pressure from Button on the final lap and finished second. Webber came home third, leaving luckless seven-times champion Michael Schumacher to finish fourth for Mercedes.
Standings: Vettel 161pts, Button 101, Webber 94