'Best win yet' says Vettel as he closes in on title defence

Hamilton downbeat after fourth-placed finish leaves him further behind Red Bull's German

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel said his victory in the European Grand Prix here yesterday was his best yet after he dominated the race from start to finish and increased his lead in the drivers' championship to an imposing 77 points.

The German has now won six of the eight races this season and has such an advantage that he can be sure of leading the championship to the end of August, even without earning another point. Vettel has dropped just 14 points so far this year, beaten only twice and finishing second on both of those occasions, and it would now require a dramatic change in fortunes for him not to retain his title come November. "This is the best one so far," he shouted over the team radio after he crossed the line yesterday.

"Even though we come here every year and say 'hmm, this might be tricky because this track is not made for us 100 per cent with no real fast corners'. We still managed to put everything together and we were faultless this weekend," he added.

Britain's Lewis Hamilton managed only fourth, finishing behind second-placed Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber, whose battle for the second spot on the podium was the highlight of the race. Hamilton was downbeat afterwards as Vettel now has nearly double points total, all but ruling out the title chances of the McLaren driver, despite there being 11 grands prix left in the season.

"We got a bad start – a very, very poor start – and I lost position to the Ferraris," Hamilton said. "But we weren't as fast as the Ferraris anyway so I'm not sure I could have held them off anyway. I think we've taken a step back this weekend – or maybe the others have gone forward. I think that in the next race we may really struggle again.

"To be able to finish fourth is still a good result, though. And 12 points is a decent haul after the last two races, so I can't really complain. However, in terms of performance, we weren't as quick today as we've been in the last three races.

"But I want to say a big thank you to the team for some amazing pit stops today – we've really made some positive improvements in that area and it's really appreciated," Hamilton added.

Second place for Ferrari, in front of his home crowd, was almost as good as a win for a delighted Alonso. "It was an interesting race for the fans and people on TV, to see the fight with Webber all the race through," he said. "We had an opportunity in the middle when I overtook him at Turn 12. They did a good stop and overtook us and then at final stop our team did a good strategy and we overtook him. Quite a bit of changing positions between Mark and me.

"Second place is the maximum we can have these days, so being here between the Red Bull Racing cars is a great achievement. Monaco was a good performance to finish second, Canada a good performance but we didn't score and here second is a great team result. We are definitely moving in the right direction and will get closer to them."

Even though he took the blame for letting Alonso pass him in the final pit stop, and then suffered a gearbox problem which prevented him from fighting back, Webber was also very happy with his race to third. "It was probably my best race of the year, to be honest. It was quite close with all three of us, as we were trying to manage tyres. I think we saw today was the closest I've been for a while. I'm getting better, up until the last 15 per cent, that's the way it goes. It's a fine line racing against those guys. I'm happy with my performance and I will come back better at the next race."

Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Jenson Button shared his compatriot's gloomy outlook after finishing sixth.

"After the start when I lost position and then regained position from Nico Rosberg, I don't think I saw another car all race. Overall, the pace wasn't there for us. We need some really good upgrades going forward. We need to get our heads down and come up with something – particularly aerodynamically, I think. We need to take some risks. There's a big gap behind us to the Mercedes and a big gap in front of us in terms of Ferrari and Red Bull. I do know of some new parts that are coming but we need some more. We need to take some steps forward."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent