Red Bull: Vettel's game with his opponents

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E s was Sebastian Vettel's first start /finish victory this year. Nobody came near him. The smallest margin on his pursuers was measured at the finish. Vettel crossed the finish line 1.7 seconds before Jenson Button. 'But only because I accidentally took off the gas too early.' Vettel had already cracked the morale of the opponents in the starting lap. After one lap he was 2.5 seconds ahead of Button. After nine laps the gap was already in the double-digit range. One lap before the safety car deployed after the Schumacher crash, the time computer reported 18.3 seconds of credit on the button.

Safety pit stop at Vettel

Start benefited Vettel from three slow vehicles between itself and the McLaren. Jarno Trulli, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Kamui Kobayashi were the ideal buffer to break away from Button in a lap of 8.9 seconds and to compensate for the fact that the safety car had stolen a huge lead from him. 'Vettel put his needle pricks exactly when it was necessary,' praised team advisor Helmut Marko. 'With his fast laps right after the start, he pulled the teeth of the others.'

Vettel was not only the fastest and most consistent in the field, he was also the most careful with his tires. 'We could have saved ourselves the last tire change,' revealed Marko. Red Bull only pitted Vettel because Button had switched to the 'supersoft' brand again in the final. The team had to follow suit in the event that a second safety car had come.

Vettel counters Button's final attack

In the last ten laps Button caught up strongly. From 12.3 to 6.5 seconds. Vettel was already on the go in gentle gear. Saving fuel was the order of the day. Button had done that earlier in the race, when he couldn't hope to catch up with Vettel.

But when the duo at the front ran into a bunch of three vehicles four laps before the end, all of them with themselves and their own duels were busy, the near-world champion turned the settings of Motor and Kers back to 'attack' mode. Vettel was the first to overtake the stragglers. A lap later, Buttons was 3.7 seconds behind. Vettel was still not nervous: 'I knew that Jenson had to go through there and that I would always be one step ahead of him.'

Kovalainen endangers victory

Only the fastestThe nine-time winner of the season would have liked to have taken the race lap. 'Forget it. Arriving is more important,' the team told him over the radio. Her driver had everything to lose Button. So he snatched the fastest lap from Vettel. 'You wouldn't have made it anyway', Button grinned at him. 'Don't be sure about that,' replied Vettel.

Only once was Vettel's victory briefly in danger. When Heikki Kovalainen drove in front of his nose after the last pit stop. What looked pretty dramatic on the TV cameras was not so wild from Vettel's point of view. 'I was prepared for Heikki to come out of the box before me and that's why I watched the lollipop man from Lotus. Heikki can't help it. He drives off when he is sent off. It didn't come as a surprise to me.'>

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