• Jun 27, 2010
2010 European Grand Prix – Click above for high-res image gallery

Some readers might think the spoiler-warning headline above is itself a spoiler, but trust us: we haven't given away anything that the TiVo crowd would rather keep hidden. So before you go rushing to conclusions, consider that this season (arguably more than any other in recent memory) is packed with "the mighty."

With a quartet of world champions on the grid – two of them multiple winners, no less – no fewer than four teams have shaped up as frontrunners in contention for the title. It's a given that some of these "mighty" drivers will park their "mighty" cars on the podium at the end of each grand prix. It's just a matter of finding out which ones make it and which don't. Follow the jump learn how things played out at the Mediterranean seaside track in Valencia, Spain.

After a heated qualifying session on Saturday, Red Bull took pole position for the eighth time in nine races so far this season. But after three straight grands prix of Sebastian Vettel who landed the choice spot, with Webber in second and Robert Kubica in sixth, Vitaly Petrov in tenth. Michael Schumacher, for those still following the returning champion's progress, managed no better than fifteenth in qualifying.

2010 European Grand Prix

Schumi did, however, manage to significantly improve his position once the race got underway, achieving the best off-the-line advancement in jumping to eleventh by the first corner. The fortunes were reversed for Mark Webber, who first lost position to Hamilton off the line, then Alonso, followed by Massa. Over the course of the opening lap, Webber was passed as well by Kubica, Button, Nico Hulkenberg to wind up in ninth place before the group crossed the start/finish line for the second lap.

By lap eight, Webber was forced to pit, but a jammed front wheel resulted in his return to the track in eighteenth place. That wasn't even the extent of his catastrophic day, either.

2010 European Grand Prix

Trying to get past Heikki Kovalainen down the straightaway on lap 9, Webber hit the back of the Lotus at high speed, sending his RB5 airborne. Heikki spun into the barricade, while Webber landed upside-down and crashed into the tire wall at around 120 miles per hour. Both drivers walked away unscathed from the spectacular crash, but were sidelined for the rest of the race with their cars totaled.

The crash brought the safety car out under yellow, sending most of the field into the pits. Schumacher was one of the last drivers to pit – ahead of hold-outs Timo Glock – but poor timing forced the seven-time champion to wait at the pit lane exit for the green light before he could rejoin the procession behind the safety car. Having pitted from third, Michael returned in 21st position, second to last.

2010 European Grand Prix 2010 European Grand Prix2010 European Grand Prix

When the safety car was finally recalled on lap 15, Vettel remained in the lead, followed by Hamilton. Kobayashi, still having held out on his mandatory pit stop, held on to third, blocking Button from advancing from fourth and challenging the leaders. Barrichello followed in fifth ahead of Kubica (6th), STR's Sebastian Buemi (7th), Force India's Fernando Alonso stuck in tenth. De la Rosa, Petrov, Rosberg, Liuzzi, di Grassi, Glock, Massa, Alguersuari, Chandhok, Senna, Schumacher and Trulli filled out the rest of the order as the race got back underway.

Unfortunate strategies under the safety car proved disastrous for both Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz, the latter of which would suffer from brake issues that forced both its drivers to take it easy for the remainder of the race.

While the leading pair continued to pull away from the rest of the field, a number of captivating battles ensued for the remaining positions. Driving for Williams and Renault respectively, Barrichello and Kubica battled ardently for fifth place. But the most exciting – and surprising – battle ensued further adrift of the lead between the likes of Buemi, Sutil, Alonso, Hulkenberg and Kobayashi.

Lap 51 saw Hulkenberg sidelined and forced to retire, agitatedly kicking the tire wall in frustration at his misfortune, but the rest continued to fight. Shortly after Nico climbed out of his Williams, Kobayashi finally pitted from third place. Thanks to the fierce jockeying for position behind him, Sauber's Japanese driver eventually found himself ninth position after his stop. That alone would have been the best result for both driver and team so far this season after a series of early retirements, but Kobayashi wasn't done yet. With less than two laps to go, he managed, unbelievably, to squeeze by Alonso to take eighth place, and on the very last corner of the final lap, he got past Buemi to take seventh place across the finish line.

Up ahead, Sebastian Vettel took the checkered flag in a flawless victory from pole. Lewis Hamilton had been handed a drive-through penalty for illegally passing the safety car on its in-lap, but brilliant racecraft on McLaren's part saw him retain second place, with his teammate landing in third to park both McLarens on the podium. No fewer than eight additional drivers – Button, Barrichello, Hulkenberg, De la Rosa, Petrov, Sutil, Liuzzi and Kubica – were cited for the same safety car infraction, with penalties potentially to be issued some time after the race that could stand to alter the finishing order.

In the meantime, Barrichello took an impressive fourth place finish, the best result for Williams so far this season. Renault's Kubica followed in fifth, Force India's Sutil in sixth, Sauber's Kobayashi in seventh, Toro Rosso's Buemi in eighth, Ferrari's Alonso in ninth and Pedro de la Rosa completed the red-letter day for Sauber with an additional points finish in tenth. Petrov, Rosberg, Liuzzi, Massa, Alguersuari, Schumacher, di Grassi, Glock, Chandhok, Senna and Trulli all finished outside the points.

2010 European Grand Prix

The results further cement Hamilton's lead in the drivers' standings ahead of Jenson Button, while Red Bull's mixed fortunes leapfrog Vettel past Webber for third and fourth places. Alonso still trails in fifth. The combined team standings retain the same order, with McLaren leading Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

Watch this space for an update on the race stewards' decision regarding those eight drivers cited for passing the safety car and tune in again on July 11 for the British Grand Prix from Silverstone.

*UPDATE: Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Nico Hulkenberg, Robert Kubica, Vitaly Petrov, Adrian Sutil, Sebastien Buemi and Vitantonio Liuzzi were all handed five-second penalties after the race for speeding on their way into the pit lane when the safety car was deployed following Mark Webber's crash.
An additional 20-second penalty was handed to Timo Glock for failing to heed to blue flag warnings.

The revised finishing times after the penalties were issued have Buemi and Alonso switching positions, Alonso bumped up to eighth from ninth and the inverse for Buemi; and Nico Rosberg bumped up to 10th instead of Pedro de la Rosa.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      After alot of hope and solid performance, i feel this might actually put Webbers championship hopes to rest =( Although i feel Britan will suit the RBR cars

      Does anyone know if they will rebuild Webbers car, or just scrap it and go from scratch with one of the spare chasis?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Everyone hating on Hamilton..but the matter of the fact is this...the stewards gave him a drive through penalty..he served it... alonso shouldn't be crying that Kobayashi held up the field for Hamilton to keep the 2nd place spot after he served his penalty...blame kobayashi not hamilton.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope Webber wins the championship.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Today the Sport is dead in this pathetic Formula one.... hamilton and stewards shame on you
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Nateb

        Hamilton and alonso were behind the safety car (both!) and ahamilton by not following the rules arrived second. alonso following the rules and fair play arrived ninth. stop, there is nothing more to say. there is no interpretation in this case. If u don't agree with that, it means that you probably would have cheated like hamilton.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Give me a break. You think the many years that F1 was a parade behind Schumacher's Ferraris was good for the sport?

        It seems that for members of the Ferrari religion, the company and race team can do no wrong. No wonder Ferrari owners willingly pay $15,000 for routine maintenance.
        • 4 Years Ago
        what? what are talking about? I think you lost the focus, Im not talking about the parade or anything else but the rules! The lesson today is....if you cheat (nothing news for McLaren) you surely gain. If you don't understand me, u haven't seen the race, and I'm loosing time
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ah, now I see where the confusion is. The rule doesn't say that once you see the safety car you must yield to it. The safety car like any race car must first get up to speed when exiting the pits and so the safety car's presence must only be acknowledged by the drivers if it passes the end of the merge lane before the F1 car does. If Hamilton just flew full bore past the safety car, there would NOT have been a drive through penalty. It would have been perfectly legal. The picture would have clearly showed him passing over the line before the SLS and nothing could be done about it.

        Alonso was just whining because there was no way he was going to get past the safety car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Shame on them for what? Do you even know what the rule says? A drive through penalty was frankly pretty harsh for Hamilton being considerate of the safety car's presence. The guy took a half second to recall that he could blitz past the safety car with no consequences. He couldn't afford that half second and got a drive through that cost him 5+ seconds instead. Seems like a pretty harsh punishment for a car length's hesitation if you ask me, and I'm no McLaren fan.
        • 4 Years Ago
        In case I wasn't completely clear, Hamilton was in fact penalized for not being reckless enough. If he had ignored the safety car, he would have been perfectly legal. It's just crappy luck of the draw for Alonso that the safety car came out between them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Webber's crash was fantastic (good he's ok) and Kamui Kobayashi was good to watch to. Other than that, that's as much as you can expect from Valencia. Too bad for Ferrari though, though brought new parts for this race, didn't turn out like it should've for them. Had one of the fastest cars this weekend.

      BTW 5-second penalties are stupid, especially after what happened to Schumi in Monaco.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Alonso has been promoted to 8th place following a 5 second post-race penalty imposed on Buemi as well as 8 other drivers. Still doesn't help the fact that he has fallen waayyyy behind the leaders in the championship standings.

      Germany did the double over England today - first in F1 and now football. RIP England. :(
      • 4 Years Ago
      What a shame, Hamilton and the stewards. Too bad Ferrari followed the rules.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I agree with kurgan-today saw the FIA adding injury (weak ill-thought out penalties) to insult
      (Hamilton's rule flaunting). What a display of dishonesty and dysfunction!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Unfortunately with only 10 laps to go in the race WJBK in Detroit decided that a summer thunderstorm in Michigan was newsworthy enough to break into the race and go to the weatherman. It was a serious storm, but the other Detroit stations waited about 15 minutes before going to weather alert craziness the way local TV news crews do. WJBK could have waited - the storm was still out around Jackson, nobody in their broadcast area was in immediate threat of needing to take shelter.

      So we didn't get to see the end of the race because some chucklehead tv station manager decided he'd gain more viewers by beating the other stations to weather hysteria than he'd lose by ditching the race.

      Apparently, I wasn't the only person to call and complain because the station phone line was busy for about 10 minutes before I got through. Then, the rude person answering the phone in the news room accused me of repeatedly calling them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I was watching the race when Webber went flying; when the car went over backwards I thought he was going to leave the track in an ambulance or worse (Le Mans, anyone?)...

      I think that crash makes a very good argument for bringing back the 107% rule for 2011...
        • 4 Years Ago
        How does that crash make a good argument for bringing back the 107% rule? Both Lotus drivers have qualified well within 107% of the front runners in every race of the season.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So what are F1 following NASCAR into the realm of anal rules calls that ruin races?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Despite all the drama with the steward's, the fact remains that they enforce whatever penalty they feel fitting, and not in favor of any team. Lewis being able to complete his penalty and maintain his position, goes towards his driving ability before the safety car (pushing to challenge Vettel and separating himself from the rest of the pack) and also once informed about the penalty by pushing and setting fastest laps to further the gap between him and the rest of the pack. Thing is, it worked just as in real life, sometimes though people are penalized they still manage to maintain their position.
      Also agreeing with previous comments, Alonso should have focused more on his race rather than that of Hamilton's. He was right to call back about Hamilton passing the safety car, but after that he just sounded like a crybaby because it did not have the outcome he had hoped for which was Hamilton ending up behind him. He would have complained even if Hamilton had dropped down to 4th.
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