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Spanish Grand Prix 2010: Race Report

Red Bull’s Mark Webber claimed a straightforward flag-to-lights victory in the Spanish Grand Prix after starting from pole position.

The Australian, who now has three F1 victories under his belt, finished ahead of the home favourite Fernando Alonso, who benefitted from a late puncture for Lewis Hamilton to finish second.

Webber's teammate, Sebastian Vettel, who suffered from a loose front tyre during the race, nursed his Red Bull home to claim the final podium position.

Michael Schumacher finished fourth in his best performance of 2010, after holding up Jenson Button and Felipe Massa, who came home fifth and sixth, for much of the race. Adrian Sutil was seventh ahead of Robert Kubica in eighth, and Rubens Barrichello, who started from sixteenth on the grid, finished ninth in the Williams. Jaime Alguersuari got tenth place as he scored a point in his home grand prix.

The start was key in this race, as one-stop strategies looked to be the order of the day among all the frontrunners on a track where overtaking is difficult. It was thought that the McLaren f-ducts – and Ferrari's version on Fernando Alonso's car – would help the trio starting in third, fourth and fifth to challenge the Red Bulls on the long run down to the first corner.

This didn't happen, and Mark Webber held his lead into the first corner, with Sebastian Vettel safety tucked in behind him. Hamilton did think about creeping through on the inside of turn 1, but sensibly decided against it.

The first of the frontrunners to pit were Schumacher and Massa, who were running in sixth and seventh when they came into their pit boxes on Lap 15. The Mercedes pit crew gave Schumacher a quick change of tyres and he retained the advantage over his old Ferrari teammate.

The slick nature of the Mercedes pit crew went missing soon afterwards, with a chaotic stop for Nico Rosberg, who went to leave the pits and then had to be pushed back into his pit box by the mechanics.

Vettel and Alonso pitted at the end of Lap 16, as did Jenson Button. The Brit got passed by Michael Schumacher as he came out of the pit lane after a scrappy stop from the McLaren pit crew.

Vettel also had a slow stop, and lost second place to Hamilton when he pitted on the following lap. Hamilton came flying out of the pits right in front of Vettel, but was not yet up to full racing speed. However, there was a Virgin car on the inside of Turn 1 and as all three drivers fought for space on the tarmac, Vettel was pushed out onto a run-off area, giving Hamilton the position.

While this was happening behind him, Webber made a routine pit stop and regained his lead, which had increased to nearly nine seconds. Mark Webber continued to set fastest lap after fastest lap on his fresh set of tyres, pulling steadily away from the rest of the field.

Jenson Button was challenging Michael Schumacher to get his fifth place back, but despite having a faster car, the only chance of overtaking was at the end of the start/finish straight into Turn 1. Schumacher's defensive driving held Button off without too many problems.

Schumacher, sitting in fifth place, was beginning to hold up everybody behind him, with Felipe Massa was catching Button who had been all over the back of Schumacher's Mercedes but unable to pass. Fernando Alonso, who was still sitting in fourth, was so far out on his own that he was even contemplating a second pit stop for a new set of tyres.

Further down the field, Sebstien Buemi was given a drive-through penalty for rejoining the track unsafely, while Jaime Alguersuari was given the same punishment for taking off Karun Chanhok's front wing.

By half distance, Mark Webber's lead was just over 11 seconds, and the Aussie will still steadily increasing his lead over Lewis Hamilton in second place. The race had now become a procession, reminiscent of Bahrain, and there was no prospect of significant overtaking or even further pit stops to spice things up a bit.

However, at the end of lap 55, just as it was looking like the order was fixed until the end of the race, Sebastian Vettel's car starting twitching uncontrollably, veering from left to right. The cause seemed to be a loose front tyre and, after a trip across a gravel trap for the German, this was remedied by a straightforward pit stop. Home favourite Fernando Alonso was promoted into third place.

Vettel was then warned by Red Bull about his brake wear, and had to back off. The German started taking corners very cautiously after another brief excursion off the track, but with four laps to go Schumacher, who was 20 seconds behind him, didn't look to be a threat to Vettel's fourth place.

And then, with two laps remaining, Lewis Hamilton had a front left puncture in Turn 3, and his race ended in a tyre wall. This promoted Fernando Alonso to second place, much to the delight of the Spanish fans in the grandstands.

The Spanish Grand Prix in 2010 will not be remembered as a classic by any means and, after the excellent races in Australia and China, it may be thought of as a bit of a disappointment. However, it gave us a good look at the performance hierarchy between the teams given a dry race and dry qualifying, and Red Bull will clearly be the team to beat in the next few races at least.