The start of the race was (and usually is) the interesting highlight of this race. Vettel who started on P1 had a tussle with Lewis Hamilton at turn 2 of the opening lap. Hamilton lost this battle as he ended up damaging his McLaren’s front wing. Fernando Alonso (P4) saw the opportunity to get past Mark Webber (P2) when Webber ran wide defending his position against Hamilton (P3). Ferrari’s Massa got past him too and then Robert Kubica, Webber and Jenson Button all piled into Turn 8 together sending Mark back into P9. I suppose this first lap incident caused Webber to get all worked up and momentarily lose all focus after that.
He pitted early in lap 8 and this put him behind Heikki Kovalainen of Lotus. Webber then went on the offensive and was coming into the braking area for Turn 16 where he tried to slipstream and line up a move on the Lotus but he completely misjudged the Lotus’ driver’s braking point and hit the rear of the Lotus, making his Red Bull do an impression of a Harrier jump jet taking off from the HMS Invincible, and then flipping it over like a Sukhoi SU30 doing aerobatic maneuvers. He survived the incident and the safety car was deployed.
Now this is where it gets interesting and confusing at the same time. The Safety Car notice came up just as Kubica (4th in the Renault) was passing the pitlane entrance and everyone from Kubica downwards was able to pit straight away, while Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso and Massa continued on.
When the Safety Car came out, it had failed to come up in front of the race leader Vettel and came out virtually alongside the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton who sped onwards and had technically overtaken the safety car but accepted a later (by 12 laps) in the race drive-through penalty (at the disappointment and behest of Ferrari’s Alonso). Alonso was in 10th because of this infringement by Hamilton and Massa in the other Ferrari also suffered because of the safety car dropping to P17.
By now the race stewards had suspicion on cars nos 1,9,10,11,12,14,15,16,22 where the cars somehow got back to the pits too quickly once the SC had been deployed after the Red Bull/Lotus crash. In the end (post race), Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Nico Hulkenberg, Robert Kubica, Vitaly Petrov, Adrian Sutil, Sebastien Buemi, Pedro de la Rosa and Vitantonio Liuzzi were all given 5 second penalties after the race for speeding while the Safety Car was out.
Despite the mass penalties only three places in the top 10 are affected with Fernando Alonso, who finished ninth, swapping places with eighth-place finisher Buemi and Sauber's de la Rosa losing his 10th place to Merc GP's Nico Rosberg. Virgin's Timo Glock had also been slapped with a 20-second post-race penalty for ignoring blue flags during the race.
The man of the race in my opinion was Kobayashi driving the Sauber BMW. In the last few laps he managed to overtake Alonso and Buemi in the last few laps taking 7th place. It was amazing seeing him overtake 2 time world champion Alonso and later Buemi (Toro Rosso Ferrari) too. Some have started naming him the ‘Flying Samurai’.
01. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h40:29.571
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 5.042
3. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 7.658
4. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 20.627
5. Kubica Renault + 22.122
6. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 25.168
7. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 30.965
8. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 31.299
9. Alonso Ferrari + 32.809
10. De la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari + 42.414
11. Petrov Renault + 43.287
12. Rosberg Mercedes + 44.382
13. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes + 45.890
14. Massa Ferrari + 46.621
15. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 48.239
16. Schumacher Mercedes + 48.826
17. Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth + 1 lap
18. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
19. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
20. Senna HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
21. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth + 4 laps
(Note - after the 5 second penalty - Fernando Alonso, who finished ninth, swapping places with eighth-place finisher Buemi and Sauber's de la Rosa losing his 10th place to Merc GP's Nico Rosberg. )
Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 50
Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 9
Webber Red Bull-Renault 9