'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?
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
'Prison Architect' players decide the fate of inmates
tech
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor