Sebastian Vettel resumed his domination of the 2011 Formula 1 season after his Montreal blip, by winning the European Grand Prix in Valencia with ease.
The World Champion broke his rivals' challenge with an early charge that saw him establish a three-second lead within a few laps and then nurse a similar advantage for the rest of the afternoon, before a push for fastest lap in the final stint took his winning margin up to 10.8sec.
Fernando Alonso finished a very encouraging second for Ferrari in front of his home crowd. Both Ferraris had jumped Lewis Hamilton's McLaren at the start, with the flying Felipe Massa dodging between Hamilton and Alonso, then trying to get down the inside of Mark Webber for second. But as he had to back out of the move, Alonso went around the outside of his teammate and took third.
Alonso then stayed close behind Webber and managed to grab second place with an out-braking move on lap 21. The Spaniard could not shake the Australian off, and when the Red Bull made its second stop one lap sooner, Webber was able to vault back ahead of Alonso.
But the battle was not over, as at the final tire changes Alonso regained the advantage by running three laps farther on used softs while Webber was on his new medium tires. The Ferrari rejoined just in front, and any hope Webber had of coming back at Alonso ended when the Red Bull team ordered him to back off and take care of a gearbox finish. He held on for third.
Running longer at most pit stops did not help Massa, who fell back to fifth in the end behind Hamilton, closing on the McLaren late without ever threatening.
Montreal winner Jenson Button had a very low-key afternoon. He was passed by Nico Rosberg at the start and by the time he had dived back ahead of the Mercedes with a bold move at Turn 2 on lap six, the rest of the leaders were out of reach. A later KERS fault ensured Button would finish a lonely sixth.
Rosberg took seventh, having battled for a while with the impressive Jaime Alguersuari, as the Toro Rosso driver converted his miserable 18th on the grid to an eighth-place finish by making a two-stop strategy work on a day when nearly everyone else had to pit three times. Alguersuari fended off Adrian Sutil to the finish, as the Force India escaped from an early battle with Nick Heidfeld's 10th-placed Renault.
Sauber's Sergio Perez pulled off a unique one-stop strategy but narrowly failed to convert it to points, chasing Heidfeld home in 11th.
Michael Schumacher's hopes of points ended when he made contact with Vitaly Petrov's Renault as he joined from the pit exit after his first tire change. That meant an extra stop for a new front wing, leaving the Mercedes 17th. Petrov was only 15th, having never really recovered from a bad start.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS
European Grand Prix
57 laps; 310.080km;
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h39:36.169
2. Alonso Ferrari + 10.891
3. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 27.255
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 46.190
5. Massa Ferrari + 51.705
6. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 1:00.000
7. Rosberg Mercedes + 1:38.000
8. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
9. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
10. Heidfeld Renault + 1 lap
11. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
12. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
13. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
14. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
15. Petrov Renault + 1 lap
16. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
17. Schumacher Mercedes + 1 lap
18. Maldonado Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
19. Kovalainen Lotus-Renault + 2 laps
20. Trulli Lotus-Renault + 2 laps
21. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
22. D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
23. Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth + 3 laps
24. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth + 3 laps
Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:41.852
Driver Team On lap
World Championship standings, round 8:
1. Vettel 186 1. Red Bull-Renault 295
2. Webber 109 2. McLaren-Mercedes 206
3. Button 109 3. Ferrari 129
4. Hamilton 97 4. Renault 61
5. Alonso 87 5. Mercedes 58
6. Massa 42 6. Sauber-Ferrari 27
7. Rosberg 32 7. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 16
8. Petrov 31 8. Force India-Mercedes 12
9. Heidfeld 30 9. Williams-Cosworth 4
10. Schumacher 26
11. Kobayashi 25
12. Sutil 10
13. Alguersuari 8
14. Buemi 8
15. Barrichello 4
16. Perez 2
17. Di Resta 2
All timing unofficial