VALENCIA, Spain, June 26 (Reuters) – Red Bull’s Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel turned the European Grand Prix into a stroll in the Spanish sunshine on Sunday as he racked up his sixth victory in eight races this season.
Taking the chequered flag 10.8 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who at least gave the home crowd something to be excited about, the 23-year-old German was dominant from pole to finish.
“This is the best one so far,” he shouted over the team radio after he crossed the line, even if millions of spectators might disagree after an afternoon with fewer thrills than in a single lap of the Canadian race two weeks ago.
Vettel is now 77 points clear of McLaren’s Jenson Button and his own Australian team mate Mark Webber, who finished a solitary third and 27.2 seconds down the road, in the championship.
The German’s 16th career triumph put him level with British great Stirling Moss in the all-time winners’ list and means the champion now has such an advantage that he can be sure of leading the championship to the end of August even without scoring another point.
The young driver has dropped just 14 points so far this year, beaten only twice and finishing second on both of those occasions.
“Maybe from the outside, I don’t know how much was happening in the grand prix, it looked like a boring race but I enjoyed it so much,” said Vettel, who was never threatened throughout the 57 laps of the Mediterranean port city’s street circuit.
“For some reason I enjoy this track,” added the man who also won from pole last year in Valencia.
“Even though we come here every year and say ‘hmm, this might be tricky because this track is not made for us 100 percent with no real fast corners’, we still managed to put everything together and faultless this weekend.”
Alonso said the podium, and a champagne celebration, was the target, and he got that.
“Finally with a normal race we get this chance to be on the podium to celebrate this fantastic weekend,” he said. “I think this is the best result we can achieve now for them (the Spanish spectators).”
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who beat Vettel in China in April, stayed out of trouble after two controversial races and banked solid points in fourth place after starting third but losing out to both Ferraris going into the first corner.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was fifth with Button, the winner of the Montreal epic, sixth.
“What we saw today was the closest I’ve been for a while…so I think I’m getting better,” said Webber, who had started second on the grid.
Germany’s Nico Rosberg was seventh for Mercedes with Toro Rosso’s Spanish driver Jaime Alguersuari eighth but lapped by the winner.