Valencia a stroll as dominant Vettel wins again

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The Independent Online

The European Grand Prix proved to be a stroll in the Spanish sunshine for Sebastian Vettel as he claimed his sixth win from eight races this season to strengthen his stranglehold on the Formula One world championship.

The 23-year-old's march towards back-to-back titles is relentless, and unlike in Canada a fortnight ago when he offered his rivals a glimmer of hope with a last-lap mistake, on this occasion he was faultless.

In completing successive wins at the Valencia Street Circuit, Vettel brought home his Red Bull 10.8 seconds clear of Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari, who at least gave his Spanish fans something to cheer, with Mark Webber completing the podium in his Red Bull.

After finishing second in each of the three previous races at this venue, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was a distant fourth, 46secs behind Vettel.

The German is now 77 points clear - virtually the equivalent of three race wins - of Webber and Jenson Button, who was a minute down in sixth in his McLaren.

After all the drama and excitement of a fortnight ago with what many observers and pundits hailed as one of F1's greatest races, this was the complete opposite.

Since its introduction on the calendar in 2008, this circuit has never been conducive to close, enthralling racing, and so it proved again.

Even with the 25-turn track operating two DRS overtaking zones, the number of passes involving the frontrunners could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

From wacky in the wet in Canada, we today had a snooze in the sun in Valencia such was the lack of overall entertainment.

The race had its moments, not least the start that proved to be a disaster for both Hamilton and Button, the latter of whom believed there would be no runaway win for Red Bull. How wrong he was.

Whether four accidents in the last two races played on the mind of Hamilton, only he can say, but there appeared to be an element of caution from the 26-year-old once the five red lights disappeared.

From third on the grid Hamilton was swallowed up by the Ferraris, initially from fifth-placed Felipe Massa and then Alonso who had started fourth.

The Spaniard then swiftly attacked his team-mate to claim third, and so began his pursuit of the Red Bulls.

As for Hamilton, there were flashes of inspiration after changing tyres, but it was another of his failings in being unable to look after his rubber that ultimately led to him not keeping pace with the leaders.

After setting the fastest laps on 26 and 27 following his second stop, he was told to look after his tyres, in particular the rears, only to respond he could not go any slower.

Hamilton promptly set another fastest lap on 28, but after that he dropped away like a stone falling off a cliff.

Out in front, Alonso briefly raised the hopes of his Spanish fans when he passed Webber for second after enabling his DRS into 12 on lap 21.

At that stage there was the possibility he could push Vettel for the win, only for Webber to reclaim second spot as the second round of stops unfolded.

Ferrari hit back in round three with the double world champion leapfrogging Webber to reclaim, and ultimately hold onto, second.

As for Vettel, he was never troubled, and there is a real danger of his championship finishing exceptionally early, with a number of records potentially falling en route too.

Behind the leading quartet, Massa grabbed fifth ahead of Button, who lost sixth spot off the line to Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, only to reclaim it several laps later with a fine move into turn two.

Rosberg came home seventh ahead of Jaime Alguersuari in his Toro Rosso, Force India's Adrian Sutil and Renault's Nick Heidfeld, with Paul di Resta 14th in his Force India in a race in which all 24 cars finished.