European Grand Prix 2010

/ Commentary

Race

14:00pm The drivers get away from the grid cleanly for the formation lap, and are now putting heat into the tyres and brakes as they head back to the grid for the start. Schumacher is starting on hard tyres from 15th of the grid, most of the others are on softs. It's a very slow formation lap but they are now lining up on the grid.

13:58pm The drivers are strapped into their cars and any second now 24 V8 engines will be fired up in preparation for the warm up lap.

13:55pm Red Bull boss Christian Horner is confident that his two cars can hold the lead from the start. He also says that there are no concerns about the reliability of Vettel's gearbox - which is the same one that ran low on oil in Canada.

13:53pm The paddock is nearly empty now as everybody takes up a vantage point for the start of the race.

13:50pm Jenson Button is confident of a good race and says he should have 4km/h speed advantage on everyone - including Hamilton - because he is running less downforce and drag on his rear wing. He also says: "I hope we don't have any safety cars as we all want to watch the England game."

13:47pm Michael Schumacher is taking no questions from his 15th place slot on the grid. He is deep in conversation with his engineers and will have a lot going through his mind after his worst qualifying performance of the year.

13:45pm Turn one here is nothing more than a flat-out right hand kink but by the time they reach the tight turn 2 they have to be back down to around 50mph. The barrier juts out on the exit of the corner so if a driver goes in a little too hot and doesn't abort up the escape road, he will have a big accident.

13:41pm Most the cars are now on the track and the drivers are keeping cool under parasols with ice packs around their necks.

13:37pm We've seen two action-packed GP2 races since qualifying, with big accidents on the first lap and also a huge shunt involving Josef Kral this morning. The driving standards are a little higher in F1 so we might not get the same level of drama in 20 minutes time when the race starts. However, one thing the race did prove - or confirm - is that it is really tough to overtake here.

13:33pm The cars are heading to the grid now. The drivers will just be making sure everything is working as it was in qualifying and that the track conditions haven't changed that much. They're free to complete as many runs as they want but have to cut back through the pits to avoid all the teams and other cars lining up on the grid.

13:25pm Welcome to live coverage of the European Grand Prix from a hot and sunny Valencia street circuit. Sebastian Vettel led a Red Bull lock out of the front row of the grid in qualifying yesterday, ahead of Mark Webber. It will be very interesting to see if either has to give way into the first two corners as they come under pressure from Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso behind. Overtaking is incredibly difficult here so whoever leads into the tight turn two will have a massive advantage for the rest of the race.

Lap 1

Hamilton beats Webber off the line and then attempts to pass Vettel but there is not enough room.

Webber drops way down the field as Alonso tries to take adavantage of Hamilton being blocked by Vettel. Hamilton confirms he made contact with Vettel and he has a vibration on the front wheel.

Lap 2

Webber down to ninth after a disastrous first lap. Vettel is pulling an early lead so Hamilton might be in trouble with that vibration he reported earlier.

Trulli has had to pit for a new nose cone. Schumacher is up to 11th Rosberg is down to 14th.

Lap 3

Webber attacks Hulkenberg at the end of the last lap but he doesn't make it stick.

Vettel now leads by 2.3 seconds over Hamilton, who is 1.5 up on Alonso.

Alonso is told that Hamilton has lost pieces of the front wing but he is still 1.5 off the McLaren.

Lap 4

The contact between Vettel and Hamilton was quite heavy and has damaged his front wing endplate. Possibly some damage to his left barge board as well.

Lap 5

Trulli pits for the second time and the car sounds pretty rough. They have now cut the engine.

Schumacher is being told his brake temperatures are a tad high and that he needs to protect them by switching the bias rearwards.

Lap 6

Vettel now leads by 3.0 seconds and is the fastest man on track at the moment.

Substantial gaps between the cars are now emerging, with only Webber looking likely to pull a move on the Williams of Hulkenberg.

Lap 7

Vettel sets another fastest lap and extends his lead to 3.3 seconds. Trulli is back on track but is going very slowly and is facing an afternoon several laps off everyone else. It will turn into more of a test session than a race for him.

Lap 8

Early stop for Webber from eighth place. Terrible tyre change for him, the front left got stuck and it took about 7 seconds. A good stop is about 3-4 seconds. He was hoping to find some clear air on circuit to make the most of a set of hard tyres and try to leapfrog the two Williams.

Lap 9

Rosberg also pits and takes on hard tyres. He too made a mistake by overshooting his pit box.

Vettel is now 3.7 ahead of Hamilton.

Lap 10

Webber has a massive accident at turn 17. His car took off as he tried to pass Kovalainen and flew through the air before smashing into the barrier. He's ok and out of the car but the safety car is out.

Webber was trying to get a slipstream on Kovalainen but misjudged it at 200 mph and took off, landed upside down and bounced back onto four wheels.

Lap 11

Most the cars have taken the opportunity to pit behind the safety car. Schumacher pits from third but has to wait at the red light because the pack is going past the pit lane and he rejoins last on soft tyres that will have to last the whole race.

Lap 12

Kobayashi is third but he hasn't pitted. Button and Barrichello have done very well as a result of that safety car and are up to fourth and fifth.

Lap 13

Buemi and Sutil have also sone well but it was disastrous for Alonso and Ferrari. He has dropped from third to tenth. Even worse for Massa who is back in 17th.

Lap 14

The safety car is still out as Schumacher comes in to go back onto hards. He's at the back of the field anyway so it shouldn't make a huge amount of difference.

Safety car is in at the end of this lap. Can Hamilton pull a move at the restart? Vettel bunches up the pack...

Lap 15

Vettel locked up into the final corner but Hamilton wasn't able to capatalise and backed off to give him enough space.

That was a massive chance for hamilton but he didn't take it. Alonso is now working his way through the field and passes Hulkenberg.

Lap 16

Button is all over the back of Kobayashi and needs to get past to attack the leaders.

Vettel has pulled a one second lead on Hamilton.

Lap 17

We should see Alonso attacking through the field now and he is now trying to close on Sutil.

The Ferrari driver has a complaint about Hamilton during the pit stops but it is not clear why yet, we haven't seen a replay of exactly what happened in the pits. We believe Alonso couldn't get out of his box due to traffic in the pits.

Lap 18

Hamilton sets the fastest lap to stabilise the gap to Vettel.

Lap 19

Vettel responds with a fastest lap of his own and increases the gap to 1.3 seconds. Meanwhile Kobayashi is comfortably holding off Button now.

Hamilton asks if he can attack and is told to save fuel now and attack later.

Lap 20

Rosberg back in 13th is told to look after his brakes. That is the second time a Mercedes driver has been told to take it easy.

Lap 21

Hamilton is under investigation and we suspect it is because he backed Alonso up heading into the pits under the safety car. We didn't see the incident so it is very hard to pass a judgement. If he is penalised it will be during the race and will likely be a drive-through penalty.

Lap 22

Rsoberg is again warned that he won't make the end of the race with his current brake wear rate.

Lap 23

Vettel leads by 2.0 seconds at the front of the pack. Kobayshi is 10.0 seconds off Hamilton in third but he hasn't stopped for tyres yet. If he were to pit now he would drop to 13th or 14th so he is not in the running for the top positions and probably not for points either.

Lap 24

Button is still 1.2 seconds off the back of Kobayashi and has fallen out of contention for the win now. He is fighting Barrichello and Kubica for a podium position now and should be able to get it if the car holds out.

Lap 25

Hamilton is lapping about 0.2 seconds down on Vettel. But that won't matter too much because he has a drive through penalty for overtaking the safety car as it came out of the pits.

Lap 26

Hamilton appeared to be caught in two minds whether he should pass the safety car as it was coming out of the pit lane. The rules say he is not allowed to do it before the first safety car line after turn 1. He could have passed it before that but because he hesitated he didn't and then went past anyway. That was against the rules and he was penalised as a result.

Lap 27

A glass bottle is on the track but fortunately the drivers avoided it.

Lap 28

Hamilton serves his drive-through penalty and comes out ahead of Kobayashi so he has kept second place. But is now around 15 seconds behind Vettel.

Lap 29

That safety car issue also explains why Ferrari lost out and why Alonso was so angry. Because Hamilton hesitated Alonso got stuck behind the safety car and had to complete a whole lap at safety car pace before he could pit.

Lap 30

A very brave marshal picks up the glass bottle from the track.

Alonso asks Ferrari whether Hamilton lost any positions with his drive-through penalty and will be very angry to hear that the answer was "no".

Lap 31

Hamilton is now 14 seconds off Vettel and 2.6 seconds ahead of Kobayashi. Button still can't get close to Kobayashi and appears to have resigned himself to waiting for the Sauber to pit.

Lap 32

So the race has lost some of its fizz now, with the closest battle in the top ten between Barrichello and Kubica for fifth. The gap is 0.8 seconds so don't expect any overtaking any time soon.

Lap 33

Further down the field, Massa is closing on Liuzzi but is not close enough to attempt a pass for 14th.

Lap 34

Hamilton is lapping about 0.5 seconds faster than Vettel but you have to assume that the Red Bull driver is just preserving the car after all the problems he has had with reliability this year.

Lap 35

11.9 seconds is now the gap between Vettel and Hamilton. But there are three backmarkers between the Red Bull and McLaren which will slow Hamilton down.

Lap 36

Button is keeping the gap to Kobayashi under 2.0 seconds and is slowly extending his advantage over Barrichello.

This is a pretty impressive performance by Kobayashi but a pit stop will still put him out the points.

Lap 37

Hamilton is having a terrible time getting past the backmarkers who are having a battle for position of their own. Glock held him up and Senna did too.

Lap 38

More drama as Kobayashi and Button come up to lap the backmarkers. Glock clipped Senna trying to overtake and then Kobayashi was very nearly passed by Button.

Senna's front wing was broken in all that drama and Glock got a rear puncture.

Lap 39

The traffic has cost Hamilton dear and he is now 12.6 seconds off Vettel.

Sutil just squeezes past Buemi for seventh into turn 12. It was a good move around the outside and now Buemi is under attack from Alonso.

Lap 40

Schumacher is now treating this race as a test session. He has pitted again for tyres and is setting fastest laps.

Alonso is really putting the pressure on Buemi now. Behind them, a puff of blue smoke comes from the back of the Williams of Hulkenberg and his pit crew is now getting ready.

Lap 41

Hamilton has the gap down to 11.2 at the front of the field but Vettel was faster on that last lap.

Lap 42

Alonso has had to settle for ninth behind Buemi now, 1.2 seconds off the Toro Rosso.

One of the big questions now is when will Kobayashi make his mandatory pit stop and in what position will he filter back into the pack?

Lap 43

Button is still stuck behind Kobayshi as they come across more backmarkers.

Lap 44

Button, Barrichello, Hulkenberg, Kubica, Petrov, Sutil, Liuzzi, Buemi and De La Rosa will be investigated after the race for going too fast under safety car conditions.

Lap 45

So that could shake up the order if those drivers are penalised as they raced back to the pits for their first pit stop.

Lap 46

Vettel now leads by 10.5 seconds ahead of Hamilton.

Lap 47

Just to confirm Button, Barrichello, Hulkenberg, Kubica, Petrov, Sutil, Liuzzi, Buemi and De La Rosa will all be investigated.

Hamilton just took a whole second out of Vettel on that last lap but the gap is still 9.5 seconds.

Lap 48

Hamilton goes even quicker on that last lap, 1.7 seconds faster than Vettel. The gap is now 7.9 seconds. But catching Vettel will be one thing, passing him quite another.

Vettel responds with a couple of very fast sectors of his own.

Lap 49

Kobayashi is maintaining an impressive pace but button is faster behind him and closing the gap. Don't forget that Kobayashi has to pit at some point to change tyres.

Lap 50

Hamilton closes the gap by another second to Vettel. He's really pushing now and is trying to put as much pressure as possible on the slightly fragile Red Bull.

Lap 51

Hulkenberg's race comes to an end with what we suspect is engine failure after those puffs of smoke earlier on. He also had a delaminated tyre but we are not sure how that was caused.

Lap 52

Vettel stabilises the gap to Hamilton at 6.9 seconds.

Lap 53

Vettel sets the fastest lap of the race with his last attempt - 1:39.141. Still no sign of Kobayashi pitting, he'll have to do it soon. As I type the Sauber mechanics come out into the pit and Kobayashi comes in.

Lap 54

Kobayashi comes back out in ninth place behind Alonso, so he made good use of the clear air at the front of the field to leapfrog his team-mate and several other cars. A good strategy call by Sauber.

Lap 55

Schumacher sets another fastest lap back in 16th but that is immediately beaten by Button. Button is now in clear air and is trying to put in some quick laps in case he is hit with a post-race time penalty for speeding under safety car conditions

Lap 56

Kobayashi is now closing on Alonso and is on fresh tyres to try and attempt a pass. Ahead of Alonso Buemi locks up into the final corner and comes under attack from both the Ferrari and the Sauber. Kobayashi has a run at Alonso into turn 17 and passes him. A brilliant move, making the most of his fresh tyres.

Lap 57

Vettel starts his final lap. Just 3.8 seconds up on Hamilton but comfortably in the lead.

And he crosses the line for victory.

Kobayshi beats Buemi into the final corner to take seventh place, a brilliant move.

But a very strong drive for Vettel too after coming under attack from Hamilton at the start and after the safety car.

Button finished third but a 20 second peanalty for speeding under safety car conditions could drop him down the order. But we'll leave that decision to the stewards. Make sure you keep checking back to ESPN F1 to find out what happens.

Vettel jumps out the car and celebrates immediately with his team. Hamilton and Button park up alongside the Red Bull to complete the podium.

Button tells Hamilton he had "the most boring race stuck behind Kobayashi".

A very strong fourth place for Barrichello ahead of Kubica and Sutil.

Thank you for joining us today for the European Grand Prix, we will be back in two weeks time for the British round of the championship. Make sure you join us.