Chinese Grand Prix

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Vettel wins at Shanghai in dominant style

ESPNF1 Staff
April 19, 2009
Red Bull secure a one-two in China © Sutton Images
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Sebastian Vettel took Red Bull's maiden Formula One victory ahead of team-mate Mark Webber at a heavily rain-affected Chinese Grand Prix. Championship leader Jenson Button finished third but had no answer to the Red Bulls, which pulled a 30-second gap over the Brawn by the end of the race.

Poor conditions forced the FIA to start the race under safety car conditions, allowing Vettel to take full advantage of his pole position. However, it was a far from easy victory for Vettel, as the persistent rain ensured that the result was far from certain throughout the two-hour race.

After eight laps behind the safety car the race got underway properly on lap nine with Fernando Alonso having already relinquished his second position with an early pit stop. The Red Bull duo of Vettel and Webber were quickly able to establish a gap over Button who passed his Brawn Mercedes team-mate Rubens Barrichello early in the race.

With an 11-second advantage at the head of the field, Vettel pitted on lap 15 and Webber followed suit soon after leaving Button at the head of the field. Further back down the order Jarno Trulli was really struggling in the conditions and heading to the final turn on lap 18 was hit hard from behind by Robert Kubica's BMW Sauber. Trulli was forced to retire, while the safety car picked up the rest of the field.

Jenson Button's 14-second lead at the head of the pack was immediately negated to nothing as he headed to the pits for this first stop. From that point onwards, Vettel and Webber dominated at the front as they traded fastest laps and eased away for a comfortable victory from Button.

Webber finished 11 seconds behind Vettel and kept the pressure on his young team-mate throughout. While he will be happy with the result for the team, having your team-mate record the team's first victory will be tough to take.

Button finished 34 seconds behind Vettel, while Barrichello had a low-key race in the second Brawn Mercedes and was never really on the pace of the front runners. The decision not to change his wet tyres in the second and final pit stop put him under pressure from those close behind, but the Brazilian veteran held on to retain the position.

Button remains at the head of the drivers' championship with 21 points, with Barrichello on 15 and Vettel vaulting up to third with his 10-point haul. Brawn Mercedes lead Red Bull in the constructors' championship by 16.5 points.

Behind the Red Bull and Brawn drivers, the battle for fifth was completely open. In the end it was Heikki Kovalainen who drove an error-free race to take the position in his McLaren Mercedes ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton who suffered several spins on his way to sixth.

Timo Glock started the race from the pit lane and despite a brush with Nick Heidfeld early in the race and then a later pitstop for a new front wing, the Toyota driver managed to battle on to finish in seventh position.

Sebastien Buemi is proving he really does deserve his place in the series as he capitalised on his fine qualifying form to finish eighth in the leading Toro Rosso Ferrari.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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