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Archives for March 2011

Awesome Vettel lays down intimidating marker

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Andrew Benson | 10:49 UK time, Sunday, 27 March 2011

"I don't think it was an easy race," Sebastian Vettel said after winning the Australian Grand Prix, but it certainly looked that way.

The world champion was never more than nine seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton's chasing McLaren until the Englishman ran into trouble with a damaged floor on his car midway through the race. But the Red Bull driver always appeared to be in total control.

The German was 2.5 seconds clear after the first lap, when admittedly Hamilton had been compromised by having to hold off Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber at the start, and he pulled out another 0.8secs on lap two.

Although Hamilton pegged him after that, the suspicion must be that Vettel was already in cruise mode, even though he said after the race that he was struggling with tyres in that first stint.

It was probably not a coincidence that the margin between the two men on that second lap was pretty much exactly the same as it had been in qualifying. That's how much faster the Red Bull appeared to be in Melbourne, at least in Vettel's hands.

There was a sharp intake of breath along the pit lane in Albert Park when the sheer speed of the car was finally unleashed in final practice on Saturday morning and nothing that happened after that did anything to diminish that impression.

Following Vettel's pace in qualifying, his fastest race lap was nearly half a second quicker than Hamilton's. On that evidence, McLaren and the rest have some work to do if they are to stop Red Bull running away with the championship.

That said, it is unwise to read too much into the results of the first race of the season - particularly in Melbourne - and it remains to be seen whether Red Bull's advantage will be as big at other circuits this season.

Albert Park can be a bit like that. If a driver and team get everything just so in conditions that leave others struggling a bit - exactly what appeared to happen in Saturday's cool weather - it is possible to eke out a quite extraordinary advantage.

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Classic F1 2011 - Sebastian Vettel

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Andrew Benson | 06:00 UK time, Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Welcome to the first edition of BBC Sport's classic Formula 1 series for 2011.

The feature has been running for two years but after showing highlights of more than 200 grands prix since 2009, we have decided to change the format for this season.

Rather than us choose the races, the Formula 1 drivers themselves will do it.

So we have asked every driver on the 2011 grid to tell us their five favourite all-time grands prix. In the week before each race of this season, we will reveal the choices of one of the drivers and - where we have been given them - the reasons why they have selected them.

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