SEBASTIAN Vettel made it look all too easy as he picked up his sixth win of the season at the European Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Formula 1 championship leader took the chequered flag ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and team-mate Mark Webber in a comfortable weekend for Red Bull.
With the main protagonists all vying for pole position on Saturday, Vettel blew his opponents away with a spectacular lap to ensure he started first for the seventh time in eight races, with Webber in second.
And from the flag, Vettel never looked back as he raced off into a comfortable lead as Webber remained second, with the fast starting Ferraris in tow.
Alonso stayed close to Webber during the opening laps, but while overtaking opportunities were at a premium around the Valencia circuit, the Spanish driver whipped his home crowd into a frenzy when he dived up the inside of the Australian for second place on lap 21.
While the top three romped away at the front, none were close enough to the driver in front to make use of the Drag Reduction System (DRS) and raced line of stern.
But after the second round of pit-stops, Webber emerged ahead of Alonso on the harder compound tyre, with Vettel unfazed at the front, working his way through the lapped traffic.
Alonso though saw another opportunity when Webber was held up behind a back marker and dived up the inside to retake second place.
Meanwhile, championship rivals Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were well off the pace in fourth and sixth respectively.
While Vettel never lost sight of his chasers in his wing mirrors, he was comfortably ahead come the chequered flag to pick up his sixth win of the season and second straight win around Valencia.
Webber’s podium sees him pull level with Button in second place in the championship, but Vettel’s lead is now a huge 77 points – the equivalent of more than three wins.
And while the reigning world champion admitted the race may not have been the most exciting this year, he was delighted to have added another victory to his tally this season.
“I’m not sure if it seemed that much was happening in the race,” he said. “But I enjoy it so much when it’s between you and the car on every single lap.
“I had a gap before the first pit-stop, but I came out very close to them, so again I had to push hard while judging the tyres and trying to imagine what the end of the stint might be like.
“Even though we come here every year and think it may be tricky for us, as there are no real fast corners, we managed to come here and have a faultless weekend. I’m obviously very happy with the result.”
Webber was left to rue a mistake which cost him the second step on the podium, but was pleased to come home so far ahead of rivals McLaren.
“I think we should have finished second,” he admitted. “But it was a good race with Fernando, I think it was my best race of the year to be honest until the last pit top.
“It was quite close with all three of us and we were trying to go as fast as possible and manage the tyres at the same time.
“I was very happy with how the race was going until the last stop and it was my fault basically.
“I was worried about Fernando getting the undercut and it was not really known how the medium tyre would behave on the out lap, but it was a risk I decided to take.
“I lost out to Fernando, he drove a good race. We had a gearbox problem at the end, so we backed right off, but we had a massive gap to McLaren, so we could cruise to the end and look after the gearbox.”
The result also sees the Tilbrook squad extend their already huge constructors’ championship advantage to 89 points.
The next race is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in less than a fortnight.