SILVERSTONE, England — Sebastian Vettel cruised to victory in the British Grand Prix on Sunday, leading a 1-2 finish for Red Bull for the second time this season.
The 21-year-old German’s faultless 15.1-second victory over teammate Mark Webber duplicated their finish at China in April and was achieved with the aerodynamics of both cars having been revamped.
“I had a fantastic car, it was unbelievable. I was able to push, push more,” said Vettel, whose car had a new nose, undertray and diffuser. “It shows we are going the right way. I’d like it if we could finish the season like that, but this circuit suits our car.
“On the other hand, we have made quite a step forward. I think we have improved the car a bit everywhere and it all came together, with the team working perfectly well. And if you want to say it, we were quite dominant today.”
Brawn GP’s Rubens Barrichello was third after struggling with back pain, but teammate and championship leader Jenson Button finished a season-low sixth in front of home fans.
Having won six races out of eight, Button still leads the championship by 23 points despite failing to finish on the podium for the first time this season. Button has 64 points, followed by Barrichello with 41 and Vettel with 39. There are nine races left.
Webber said finishing third in qualifying was always going to make it difficult to challenge Vettel.
“We needed to get on the front row, and then the race was virtually lost in the first stint,” said the Australian, who is 28.5 points behind Button. “The gap at the end of it was way too big. I couldn’t bridge it and then, as Sebastian said, in the second stint there was a lot of traffic.
For Button, improving from sixth on the grid was always going to be difficult, particularly when the tires were struggling to grip.
He dropped to ninth early on, but with 10 laps to go reclaimed sixth place to earn three points after leaving the pits ahead of Toyota’s Jarno Trulli and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
“If you don’t get the tires in their working range, it doesn’t matter what car you’ve got, it doesn’t work. So, that was my problem here and Rubens seemed to be struggling as well,” Button said. “The pace wasn’t there.
“Hopefully, this will be the worst race of the year. And after struggling so hard to get three points, in a way this might be an important three points.”
Brawn GP team principal Ross Brawn is confident his drivers will hit back at the German GP next month.
“This is not a complete disaster for the championship,” he said. “You can have days when you struggle but come back. It could have been a lot worse.”
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa finished fourth as he did in Monaco last month, edging Nico Rosberg of Williams.
“We still didn’t get the result that we are capable of today,” Rosberg said. “But Barrichello was slow in the middle stint and I was stuck behind him, and that cost me the place to Massa.”
It was a miserable day for reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who finished 16th after being lapped by Vettel. Hamilton, who won last year’s race in front of his home fans, complained over the team radio that his tires lacked grip. He is currently 11th in the drivers’ standings.
McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen retired in the 36th lap after bursting a tire in a collision with Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais, who was trying to pass him but lost his front wing and also went out of the race.
It was the fourth straight race that McLaren failed to finish in the points, the first time that has happened since 1981.