Vettel hails 'perfect car' after crushing Grand Prix victory

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The Independent Online

Sebastian Vettel today urged his mechanics to treat themselves to "pizza and beer" in the wake of his crushing Australian Grand Prix victory.

Vettel produced the drive of a world champion as the sport's youngest title holder did not put a wheel out of place before taking the chequered flag at Melbourne's Albert Park.

Unlike last year, when Vettel was forced to retire whilst in the lead and after starting from pole, on this occasion nothing untoward barred his path to success.

From the moment the five red lights disappeared to finally raise the curtain on the new campaign, the German was never troubled.

Vettel's margin of victory was a yawning 22 seconds to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who had earlier damaged his car in running wide at turn one.

That chasm is even more impressive when you consider he did not use KERS, the power boost system, due to issues earlier in the weekend.

When you now take the end of last season into consideration, Vettel has won the last three races, and four of the last five.

The 23-year-old appears unstoppable at present, but he said: "I don't really like the word dominant at this stage, to be honest, because there is a long, long way to go.

"Yes, the car was perfect, and all in all, I'm very, very happy. We've worked a lot of hours because it's not an easy car to work on.

"But it was a good race. In the end things calmed down and Lewis did not push as hard any more behind me, so I tried to control the last part.

"We've learned a lot of things, and we now need to move forwards from here."

Naturally paying tribute to his mechanics who have provided him with such a phenomenal car with which to start the season, Vettel believes they should all go out for a meal.

"Compliments to them because they've been working all week long up to this weekend," added Vettel.

"But I was joking with them yesterday, and now they can have pizza and beer! It's a nice reward."

Vettel was not the only jubilant driver on the podium as Hamilton was equally as ebullient in the wake of his runner-up spot that a fortnight ago was never on the cards.

But a new exhaust system and floor has swiftly turned a seemingly woeful situation on its head.

A delighted Hamilton said: "We can definitely take this and be very proud of ourselves.

"The guys have done a great job coming into this weekend. A week or two ago we were not expecting to be anywhere near the top five.

"So to come away with second, with the car reliable, the longest it has lasted, is a great achievement for us.

"Generally we've very good pace and I'm looking forward to the next race.

"The car handled great, the guys have done a great job. This is a great platform for us to push on."

After an equally disruptive winter for Renault, not least in light of Robert Kubica's horrific rallying accident, Vitaly Petrov was a stunning third to lift the spirits of his team.

Petrov was almost speechless as he joined Vettel and Hamilton in the post-race press conference as the Russian said: "I can't believe I'm sitting here with these guys.

"We didn't know where we were coming into the season, but in practice and qualifying we were good.

"In the race the team did everything perfectly. We can be very proud of what we have achieved.

"After the winter we had, I'm delighted to be here."

On three-stop strategies, Fernando Alonso was fourth for Ferrari, followed by Mark Webber in his Red Bull.

On home soil the Australian was again unable to finish any higher than fifth, with this being the third occasion he has found himself in such a position.

After a battle royal with Felipe Massa early on, Jenson Button was sixth in his McLaren, the Briton earning a drive-through penalty for cutting a corner when dicing with the Brazilian.

In a remarkable post-race development, Sauber duo rookie Sergio Perez and team-mate Kamui Kobayashi were both excluded from the race results due to what the FIA described as a technical infringement, believed to relate to the rear wing.

Perez and Kobayashi had finished seventh and eighth, but those two spots are now taken up by Massa and Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi.

The FIA's decision means Scotland's Paul di Resta takes a point on his debut with Force India for 10th place, finishing behind team-mate Adrian Sutil.