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LIVE COMMENTARY: 2010 EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX - RACE DAY AT VALENCIA
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: Race day at Valencia
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
Valencia
Valencia © Sutton
10:30 Hello everyone and welcome to AUTOSPORT Live for the ninth round in the 2010 FIA Formula 1 world championship.

The Juan Carlos I marina at Valencia in Spain welcomes the sport for only the third time for the European Grand Prix, with many predicting a close, but ultimately processional race - something that would halt a run of brilliantly entertaining races so far this season.

Many teams have updated packages this weekend in an effort to keep up with the championship-leading form of McLaren, and for Red Bull Racing it's a case of so far, so good with a front row lockout. Ferrari is much closer to the pace of the two top teams here and Robert Kubica has used Renault's exhaust driven diffuser to great effect. The pole is in the hunt for a podium this afternoon.

The race itself begins at 12:00 GMT, but before then we will set the scene by reviewing yesterday's qualifying session, update you on today's weather conditions and support card activity, and focus on some of the major talking points heading into the race.

Vettel grabbed his fourth pole of the year
Vettel grabbed his fourth pole of the year © Sutton
10:35 Red Bull returned to front-running ways with Sebastian Vettel leading home Mark Webber at the end of a sensational qualifying session yesterday to lockout the front row for the first time in three races.

The first period is always a case these days of who will join the six cars from the three new teams on the sidelines. Sauber and Toro Rosso fought hard to avoid Formula 1's 'wooden spoon' and for a time even Michael Schumacher was mired in the dogfight to avoid 18th place. Eventually the die was cast for Kamui Kobayashi and the Japanese driver failed to make the cut for the second event in succession.

Schumacher, having escaped elimination in part one, was struggling with some braking issues. These could not be cured in the short time available between phases one and two, so a run to 15th place was perhaps expected. But joining him would be team-mate Nico Rosberg, cementing the team's worst qualifying result of the season. Both Force Indias were also out - a slightly surprising effort given the team's strong practice form.

With both teams struggling, it was Williams and Renault that gained, with all four cars making the shootout. For a time, it looked like Robert Kubica would be a real factor in the front-end reckoning, but ultimately the track was left for Webber and Vettel to square up to eachother.

The Australian grabbed the advantage on the first of two runs, but Vettel hit back as all ten runners chose super-soft tyres with a blinding 1m37.587s. Webber's response was mighty but at the line he was slower by just 0.075 seconds.

Lewis Hamilton produced a great first effort to head row two with home hero Fernando Alonso in fourth, ahead of Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa in fifth. Kubica rounded out the top six after struggling to get the best from the softer tyres.

Vettel leads all-Red Bull front row

10:40 It's another great day for racing around the harbour in Valencia, with almost clear skies and strong sunshine beating down on the circuit since dawn.

We expect less in the way of patchy cloud than we saw yesterday and therefore temperatures should pick up slightly. A maximum ambient of 28 Celsius is expected and we could see around 47 degrees down on the track surface, although the ever-resent sea breeze will be in effect.

Fans enjoy the Valencia sunshine
Fans enjoy the Valencia sunshine © Sutton
10:45 Motor racing enthusiasts love to debate and discuss the action on track, and the live forum at the bottom of the screen is your chance to let everyone know your thoughts on events as they unfold at the circuit.

• Can the Red Bull drivers avoid contact, stay reliable and secure a one-two this afternoon?

• How will Fernando Alonso get on at his second home event of the season? The Ferrari driver was mighty in practice but struggled with his set of super-soft tyres at the end of qualifying.

• Will Mercedes drivers Rosberg and Schumacher stay clear of trouble in the early stages of the race to bring both cars home in the points?

Tell the world what you think.

Click the SHOW LIVE FORUM link in the red bar at the bottom of your browser window if you'd like to join the debate.

10:50 Fortec's Jack Harvey wrapped up his dominance of the Formula BMW Europe event in Valencia with his second win of the weekend this morning.

The Briton led home Robin Frijns by a comfortable 4.3 second margin in the 10-lap race that opened today's busy support programme.

The DAMS pair of Fahmi Ilyas and Javier Tarancon, who joined Harvey on the podium on Saturday, finished third and fourth, followed by Facundo Regalia and Timmy Hansen.

Nico Muller triumphed in GP3
Nico Muller triumphed in GP3 © Sutton
10:55 Jenzer Motorsport's Nico Muller won an eventful GP3 Series sprint race earlier this morning as the trend of incident-packed support events around Valencia continued.

The Swiss hooked up a lightning getaway to beat polesitter James Jakes off the line to lead into the first corner and was never troubled thereafter, eventually winning by 3.2 seconds.

Atech's Roberto Merhi was the man on a charge and he took second away from Jakes by mid distance but ran out of time to chase down Muller for the lead.

Points leader Esteban Gutierrez, who won on Saturday afternoon from Robert Wickens, found himself down in 14th by the flag after he was clattered by the Status driver on the first lap. Wickens was handed a drive through for causing the collision and finished 16th.

Muller wins eventful Valencia race

Marcus Ericsson took his first GP2 win
Marcus Ericsson took his first GP2 win © Sutton
11:00 Marcus Ericsson kept his head under intense pressure to secure his first-ever GP2 win in today's sprint race at Valencia.

The Swede took the lead at the start by beating pole-sitter Michael Herck into the first corner, but faced a determined challenge from Giedo van der Garde, who started well and pushed Ericsson all the way to the flag.

Herck held on to third after a late scrap with Pastor Maldonado, while Charles Pic and Davide Valsecchi scored the final points.

Ericsson's triumph for Super Nova was overshadowed by a huge accident for team-mate Josef Kral. The Czech driver ran into the back of Arden's Rodolfo Gonzalez and was launched skyward before landing heavily and slamming into the Turn 17 barriers at high speed. He is reported to be conscious and complaining of pain in his back and right arm.

Ericsson win overshadowed by Kral crash

Rene Rast took his fourth win of the year
Rene Rast took his fourth win of the year © Porsche
11:05 Today's support programme ended with another win for Rene Rast in the Porsche Supercup.

The German started well from pole and comfortably held off grid second man Norbert Siedler through an opening sequence of corners that were remarkably free of the carnage evident so far this weekend.

Rast bolstered his march towards the championship with a comfortable 7.2 second margin by the flag, while title rival Jeroen Bleekemolen was unable to challenge Siedler and finished third.

Jaap van Lagen and Sean Edwards finished fourth and fifth and found themselves slipping back towards an entertaining mid-pack scrap, which ended with Stefan Rosina sixth, Patrick Huisman seventh and Nick Tandy completing the top eight.

11:10 Here's how the grid will line up this afternoon:
Pos  Driver         Team
 1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault
 2.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault
 3.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes
 4.  Alonso         Ferrari
 5.  Massa          Ferrari
 6.  Kubica         Renault
 7.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes
 8.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth
 9.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth
10.  Petrov         Renault
11.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari
12.  Rosberg        Mercedes
13.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes
14.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes
15.  Schumacher     Mercedes
16.  de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari
17.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari
18.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari
19.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth
20.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth
21.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth
22.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth
23.  Chandhok       HRT-Cosworth
24.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth
Red Bull must avoid a repeat of this
Red Bull must avoid a repeat of this © Sutton
11:15 Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber haven't run at the head of a Formula 1 field since the Turkish Grand Prix - and we all know what happened there ...

With the top ten all starting on super-soft tyres this afternoon, finding a strategy advantage on the competition is going to be a challenge.

Bridgestone confirmed on Friday that the option tyre was holding up very well after long runs and a one-stop race with a longer second stint on the harder tyre is the clear choice of the field, thanks in part to the slow 60 km/h pitlane speed limit.

The best chance to overtake will be at the start and Lewis Hamilton will want to hassle the Red Bulls when the lights go out. Fernando Alonso also needs a great getaway.

Robert Kubica has been the star of the weekend for many, but he's up against the best tyre conserver in the form of Button, starting seventh. Just outside the top ten, Nico Rosberg will also be one to watch as he bids to haul the Mercedes round to a good points finish.

Schumacher again finds himself deep in the pack
Schumacher again finds himself deep in the pack © Sutton
11:20 Continuing our look at the field, we move down to the 15th position and Michael Schumacher. The seven-time champion will have his work cut out on a track where overtaking - at least for Formula 1 cars - is extremely difficult.

Jaime Alguersuari starts directly behind Schumacher in 17th place and we already know how aggressive the young Spaniard can be. Don't be surprised to see the Toro Rosso trying a move on the Mercedes in the opening seconds of the race.

The battle between the three new teams is headed once again by Lotus, with Trulli out-qualifying Kovalainen for 19th place at the 500th race for the marque. The pair were 1.2 seconds clear of the Virgin versus HRT battle so should win the six-car race on pace alone, but Di Grassi, Glock, Chandhok and Senna are set for a long battle - one that could cause the leaders a fright or two during as the likes of Vettel, Webber and Hamilton come up to lap them on a circuit where it is very dusty off-line.

A good weekend for Williams so far
A good weekend for Williams so far © Sutton
11:25 Williams has tried a few variations of the F-duct so far this season, but at Valencia the device helped the team to a much better qualifying result, with Nico Hulkenberg eighth on the grid and his team-mate Rubens Barrichello ninth.

The pair qualified in 15th and 17th positions at the Turkish Grand Prix, but yesterday's performance was much more encouraging. Hulkenberg should also be able to use the F-duct soon and, with an exhaust-driven diffuser planned for Silverstone, the FW32 could be set for another strong performance.

The team is confident of a decent result this afternoon to improve on a very limited points haul so far. Hulkenberg secured his first Formula 1 point for tenth at the Malaysian Grand Prix, while the experienced Barrichello has three points finishes to his credit from Bahrain, Australia and Spain.

11:30 The pitlane is now open for the the drivers to make their way around to the grid.

During the next 15 minutes, they have several jobs to undertake. Support races earlier this morning have changed the grip level, so each driver will want to quickly ascertain how hard he can push when it comes to the early laps of the race. Those drivers who have the exhaust-driven diffusers on their cars this weekend, may choose to perform a heat-soak test at the end of the pitlane.

They will check basic functions such the gearbox, drinks bottle and the all-important team radio.

The pitlane closes at 11:45 GMT. Any car not on the grid by then will be required to start from the pits.

11:31 Alonso is on his run to the grid with soft tyres on his Ferrari.

11:33 Polesitter Vettel pulls out of the Red Bull garage and heads out onto the circuit.

11:34 Massa is just ahead of Vettel on the road as they complete a tour around the circuit.

11:35 The Lotus cars are popping through the pitlane for a chance to practice a launch.

11:36 Vettel has arrived at the grid and is being pushed through the crowds by his mechanics.

11:37 Alonso has also been for a run through the pitlane and is on a second lap to the grid.

11:39 Red Bull technical guru Adrian Newey is patrolling the grid and is currently looking at the exhaust-driven diffuser solution on the Renault.

11:40 The fashionable exhaust layout is of course something Red Bull introduced pre-season and other teams are scrambling to bring it to their cars

11:41 Felipe Massa stops at the back of the grid and is pushed to his fifth place starting slot by the mechanics.

11:43 The track temperature is 44 Celsius in the warm sunshine.

"I think we really have to manage with the tyres and it will be a survival race. Everybody has the same problem."
Kamui Kobayashi, 18th speaking to BBC TV

11:45 The pitlane is now closed. Any car not on the grid will be required to start the race from the pits, with no opportunity to check the car over during the formation lap.

11:46 The crowd rises for the European anthem - 'Ode to joy' - as it rings out around the Juan Carlos I marina in Valencia.

11:47 The spectators remaining standing the Spanish national anthem 'Marcha Real' follows its European counterpart. The name Spain (España in Spanish) comes from the Latin name Hispania ...

11:48 Remarkably, the safety car has never been deployed in a Formula 1 race at this circuit.

11:49 The big Mercedes has been in frequent action during chaotic support races, so an intervention this afternoon certainly can't be ruled out.

11:50 If the safety car does appear, look out for opportunistic moves at the final corner, which is beyond the line where overtaking can begin.

11:52 Jenson Button walks onto the grid wearing a cool vest in the hot sunshine. Michael Schumacher puts his balaclava on as he gets ready for action.

11:53 Robert Kubica is also wearing a cool vest to combat the high cockpit temperatures that will occur during the race.

11:55 There is just five minutes to go until the formation lap begins at Valencia.

11:56 The track temperature continues to edge up on this hot afternoon and is now 46 Celsius.

11:56 All 24 cars are on the grid with no problems so far. We have a full field ready to rock for 57 laps this afternoon.

11:58 Fernando Alonso cools himself down with a fan just minutes before the off.

11:59 The engines begin to fire with a minute to go before the formation lap.

12:00 The formation lap begins at Valencia. Sebastian Vettel answers the call of the green light and leads the pack away from the dummy grid.

12:00 All 24 cars leave the grid without problem.

12:00 The softer tyre is the choice of the field, with the strategists planning a switch to the harder option about 40 laps from the finish.

12:01 Vettel leads the rest of the cars round the marina and back towards the end of the lap.

12:01 Down the back, the Lotus and Virgin drivers are trying an alternative strategy with the harder tyres for the start.

12:01 Schumacher is also going for harder rubber in the opening stint.

12:02 Round the final left hander and the Red Bull pair drive towards the front row of the grid. Vettel has taken them round slowly.

12:03 Vettel and Webber stop in their slots. The field is forming up quite slowly behind them.

We await the lights ...

Lap 1: The five red lights go out and we are racing in Valencia!

Lap 1: Vettel drops the hammer and is away well into the lead but Hamilton takes Webber for second on the run to Turn 2.

Lap 1: Down to the bridge for the first time it is Vettel from Hamilton, Alonso, Massa and Button under threat from Kubica.

Lap 1: Webber is dropping down the field and is already down in seventh position after an awful start.

Lap 1: Kubica puts a great move on Button to grab fifth as Vettel streams off into the lead after a hard-fought start.

Lap 2: Hamilton tells the team he has a vibration after antics between himself and Vettel at Turn 2.

Lap 2: Webber is down to ninth and clearly has some trouble after contact with Button on the run to Turn 3 on the opening lap.

Lap 2: Vettel leads by 1.6 seconds over Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Kubica, Button and the Williams pair.

Lap 3: Behind the Williamses comes Webber who is trying to gain positions back from ninth. Buemi is tenth and Schumacher is up to 11th place.

Lap 3: Vettel sets the fastest lap two as he pulls 2.3 seconds clear of Hamilton, who seems to have the pace to keep the Ferrari pair at bay.

Lap 3: Sutil is 12th with team-mate Liuzzi 13th, Rosberg down to 14th, Petrov 15th and De La Rosa in 16th place.

Lap 4: Alonso, Massa and Kubica are in tight formation disputing the final podium place.

Lap 4: Jarno Trulli pitted at the end of the first lap and runs in 24th and last position after some problems.

Lap 4: Ferrari's radio to Alonso suggests pieces are falling off Hamilton's front wing after that clash with Vettel as Hamilton fought for the lead

Lap 5: Blue flags wave as Trulli is limping back to the pits. It looks like we are about to lose one Lotus.

Lap 5: Replays show Hamilton was challenging hard for the lead in Turn 2 but Vettel held firm, with light contact between the rear wheel of the Red Bull and front wheel of the McLaren.

Lap 5: Vettel now has a 2.9 second lead over Hamilton, with a similar margin back to Alonso's Ferrari.

Lap 5: The positions are static for the moment as Trulli pits. He switches off the engine and the team will attempt a fix.

Lap 6: Barrichello in seventh is going with Button and hanging onto the leading cars, but Hulkenberg in eighth is now holding up those behind him.

Lap 6: Vettel clocks the fastest lap at 1m43.055s and looks comfortable out front. However, both Hamilton and Alonso were only around a tenth off the leader's pace.

Lap 7: So Hulkenberg in eighth leads Webber, Buemi, Schumacher and Sutil. Webber is easily quicker than the Williams but as yet can't find a way past.

Lap 7: Lotus send Trulli out to complete some more laps in the hope that his gearbox problem is remedied.

Lap 8: Webber pits from ninth place in the Red Bull after a disastrous opening to the race.

Lap 8: He switches to the harder tyre but there is a problem with the left front and it's a long 7.9s stop.

Lap 8: Hamilton's pace has faded slightly over the last couple of laps and Alonso is now under two seconds behind.

Lap 8: Webber rejoins in around 18th place and has a mountain to climb now.

Lap 9: Kubica is holding on strongly in fifth with Button now 2.6 seconds behind. Barrichello is seventh in his Williams.

Lap 9: Rosberg pits from 17th in the Mercedes. He too has suffered a terrible start to the race. He's back out after a 5.8s stop for hard tyres.

Lap 9: The safety car has been deployed.

Lap 10: There has been a huge accident involving Mark Webber and Kovalainein in the Lotus.

Lap 10: Mark Webber tries to pass Kovalainen for 17th and has an enormous accident just like Josef Kral suffered this morning in the GP2 race.

Lap 10: There is a scramble for the pits but the top four have missed the pitlane entry!

Lap 10: It was a huge accident as Webber launched off the back of the Lotus and flew upside down through the air.

Lap 10: Button is the top man to have made a stop and this could shuffle the field significantly.

Lap 10: The Red Bull landed upside down and then flipped back the right way and ploughed into the Turn 12 run-off tyre barrier.

Lap 10: The pair of Ferraris are directly behind the safety car while Hamilton and Vettel pit.

Lap 10: This is a lucky break for the lead pair but disaster for the Ferraris, who are stuck behind the safety car.

Lap 10: Mark Webber was clearly moving and was thankfully able to climb out of the smashed RB6.

Lap 10: Hamilton took the chance to change front wing as the Ferrrari pair dive in and stack.

Lap 11: Webber climbs into a waiting course car and will be taken to the medical centre most probably just to ensure that he is okay.

Lap 11: Vettel and Hamilton are looking for the safety car now, with Michael Schumacher, yet to pit, in third on the road.

Lap 11: Alonso has fed in mid-pack and this has been extremely costly for Ferrari.

Lap 11: There is debris still scattered over the track at the approach to Turn 17 and the marshals will set about clearing that up, now that the battered RB6 has been removed behind the barrier.

Lap 11: Schumacher opts to pit this time.

Lap 12: Vettel leads the pack behind the safety car from Hamilton. Both have stopped and are the lead battle.

Lap 12: Kobayashi is now third on the road but is yet to stop.

Lap 12: Button is up to fourth after a very well-timed pitstop, followed by Barrichello, Kubica, Buemi, Sutil and Hulkenberg.

Lap 13: Behind Hulkenberg we find Alonso who came off badly in those stops and runs in 10th, with de la Rosa 11th, Petrov 12th and Rosberg 13th.

Lap 13: Kovalainen has arrived back with the Lotus team. He is explaining from his view what happened in that move as he defended 17th from Webber.

Lap 13: Up front, it is game on for a repeat of the fight between Vettel and Hamilton that we saw off the start.

Lap 14: The big loser in the safety car stops is undoubtedly Michael Schumacher. He cleverly comes in for a second time.

Lap 14: The safety car will pit at the end of this lap.

Lap 14: With a new front wing on Hamilton's car, he will hope to have better pace as we get the race underway again.

Lap 14: Schumacher took on soft tyres when the safety car came out initially and was held at the end of the pitlane.

Lap 14: So the second stop enables Schumacher to get rid of those option tyres after just two laps and back onto the preferred harder rubber.

Lap 14: Schumacher will resume at the back of the field in 21st position.

Lap 14: Remember, overtaking can begin at the line before the final corner so we can expect a scramble in the last few turns.

Lap 14: Meantime, the field is heading towards Turn 17 and we will soon be racing again.

Lap 14: Kobayashi remains third on the road but is yet to stop. Button is behind the Sauber.

Lap 15: The safety car comes into the pitlane and we are racing once again.

Lap 15: Vettel runs deep into the final corner but he resists more pressure from Hamilton.

Lap 15: Vettel and Hamilton sprint away as Button tries to find a way around Kobayashi's Sauber.

Lap 15: Alonso is immediately on the move and he charges past Hulkenberg for ninth.

Lap 15: The Spaniard made the move at Turn 17 and now has eighth placed Sutil in his sights.

Lap 15: Button gets a big run of speed into Turn 17 but still remains boxed behind the Sauber.

Lap 15: Vettel leads into the next lap by a second over Hamilton.

Lap 16: Schumacher is up the inside of Karun Chandhok for 19th place at the final corner. He has the two Virgin cars in front of him.

Lap 16: Behind the scrap between Kobayashi and Button, Barrichello is an excellent fifth in his Williams from Kubica's Renault and Buemi in the Toro Rosso.

Lap 16: Schumacher quickly catches up to the back of Glock and should take his fellow German for 18th in the near future.

Lap 16: Schumacher makes the move and is past the Virgin.

Lap 17: Schumacher also passes Lucas Di Grassi and is up to 17th. His next target is Jaime Alguersuari - his friend from Australia.

Lap 18: Kobayashi continues to hold back Button and that scrap is now 5.1 seconds behind Hamilton, who has just set the fastest lap.

Lap 18: A huge train of cars in the midfield with Alonso at the front of it in ninth, stretching though, past Massa in 15th with Schumacher about to join the back of the high-speed snake in 17th position.

Lap 18: Alonso is unhappy with something Lewis Hamilton has done, asking his team to work with race director Charlie Whiting.

Lap 19: Kobayashi continues to tighten the pack as he holds up Button, Barrichello, Kubica and the chasing field.

Lap 19: Massa is on the gearbox of Liuzzi in a fight for 14th. Felipe thinks about a move to the outside on the run to Turn 17, but Liuzzi immediately covers the inside line.

Lap 20: Hamilton agrees with his team to save fuel for the moment and attack leader Vettel later in the race.

Lap 20: Massa makes a slight error and that allows Alguersuari in 16th to get on the back of the Ferrari, with Schumacher now less than two seconds behind them in 17th.

Lap 21: Rosberg is 13th and stuck right in the middle of this bunched pack. He is advised to protect the brakes - with 36 laps to go.

Lap 21: Hamilton is under investigation by the Stewards.

Lap 21: The lead pair are now an amazing 10 seconds clear of Kobayashi, who is packing up the entire field behind him.

Lap 22: If Hamilton does land a drive-through, it won't be long before he can make it without losing position given the rate Kobayashi is holding back the field.

Lap 22: The extent of the bunching behind the Sauber is such that Schumacher in 17th is just 13 seconds behind it.

Lap 22: Button is still unable to find a way past Kobayashi despite the Sauber's lack of speed.

Lap 23: Vettel leads by two seconds over Hamilton, with Kobayashi now a further 10 seconds behind and yet to stop.

Lap 23: The main group of cars from third to 17th is beginning to split. Buemi in seventh can't hold on to Kubica and has Sutil, Alonso, Hulkenberg and De La Rosa all tight behind him.

Lap 24: Massa in 15th is putting further pressure on Liuzzi but is still unable to find an opening.

Lap 24: Gaps begin to widen in the chasing pack with Button hardly troubling Kobayashi and Barrichello also drifting away.

Lap 25: Further up the road, Alonso in ninth is stuck behind the other Force India belonging to Sutil.

Lap 25: Hamilton has been given a drive through penalty for overtaking the safety car.

Lap 25: Replays show it was neck-and-neck between Hamilton and the safety car emerging from the pits and he just edged in front.

Lap 26: Timo Glock pits and falls to 21st and last position. He rejoins.

Lap 26: Vettel was well clear of the incident but Hamilton hesitated and was behind the safety car at the line.

Lap 26: Hamilton is pushing now and will hope to come out as high up the pack as possible given how much they are being held by Kobayashi.

Lap 27: Hamilton sets the fastest lap at 1m40.715s as he pushes hard before his drive through penalty.

Lap 27: With one Lotus out and the other two laps adrift, Lucas Di Grassi leads the new team race in 18th place. He is 8.6s ahead of Chandhok, with Senna a further 1.5s back in 20th.

Lap 27: Hamilton is in the pits to serve his penalty.

Lap 28: He will stay ahead of a lot of cars here thanks to Kobayashi's lack of pace.

Lap 28: We have some debris on the racetrack as a bottle rolls across and away from the racing line.

Lap 28: Hamilton has cleared Kobayashi and sensationally remains second despite the penalty!

Lap 29: Vettel has a 14.5 second lead over Hamilton, Kobayashi and Button.

Lap 29: Buemi in seventh is now three seconds down on the leading group, with Sutil 1.2s behind him. Alonso is ninth and still hounding the German.

Lap 29: Hulkenberg is tenth with De La Rosa 11th, Petrov 12th, Rosberg 13th, Liuzzi 14th and Massa still 15th.

Lap 30: Alonso is clearly still riled about the Hamilton effect on his dropping down the field.

Lap 30: Fernando asks on the team radio where the McLaren was before the penalty, and where it is now.

Lap 30: The response is that Hamilton is still in second and that it is 'really unfair.' Alonso is then advised to forget about it and concentrate on his own race.

Lap 31: Hamilton is currently lapping quicker than Vettel but the margin is a massive 14 seconds.

Lap 31: A courageous marshal has ran out onto the track to recover the bottle lying on the racetrack that we mentioned a few laps ago.

Lap 31: Hamilton is pulling clear of Kobayashi, who is still heading the rest of the pack as it spreads out behind him.

Lap 32: It is perhaps understandable that Alonso is thinking about other things, because he is unable to do anything about Sutil in eighth.

Lap 32: Kobayashi's pace is relatively good at the moment in the 1m41s bracket but the Japanese still needs to make a stop.

Lap 32: Massa is making more of a fist of things in 15th. He is harrying Liuzzi every lap but he too hasn't been able to make a move yet.

Lap 33: Alguersuari in 16th has dropped to two seconds behind Masa, with Schumacher now less than one second down on the Toro Rosso.

Lap 33: Button, fourth, has no challenge for Kobayashi and seems to be waiting for the Sauber to stop.

Lap 33: Barrichello has slipped to 3.8 seconds behind Button in fifth and has Kubica looking to take away that place.

Lap 34: Up front, Vettel leads by 12.7 seconds over Hamilton, who is slowly edging back towards the leader.

Lap 34: Di Grassi is pulling away at the head of the new teams battle in 18th. He is now 13 seconds ahead of Chandhok, with Senna and Glock in reasonably close range. The four cars are covered by just 20 seconds.

Lap 34: Kubica is being told to try and cool his Renault as he continues that chase of Barrichello's Williams.

Lap 35: Massa makes an error at the final corner and runs way wide. He drops to 1.6s behind Liuzzi who is 14th.

Lap 36: Vettel's lead pace is still fading, with Hamilton taking a further time out of that gap with the fastest lap of 1m40.670s on the latest tour.

Lap 36: Glock in 21st has caught Senna's HRT. A battle is shaping up between the pair with Chandhok just a couple of seconds up the road in 19th.

Lap 36: Hamilton is pushing on but is coming up on that scrap between Glock and Senna.

Lap 37: There are heavy blue flags but Hamilton is struggling to find a way through.

Lap 37: Glock sends a move up the inside of Senna going into Turn 1 but isn't able to make it.

Lap 37: Both drivers have let Hamilton though now and the battle is rejoined, as we see Schumacher in and out of the pits from 17th.

Lap 37: Hamilton is finally clear of that backmarker scramble, which is now chased by Kobayashi and Button.

Lap 38: Vettel has extended the lead to 13 seconds after that messy run through traffic for Hamilton.

Lap 38: Glock has another go at Senna for 20th and there is contact between the pair. Glock is in for fresh tyres ... but the crew isn't ready.

Lap 38: Senna's front wing is damaged. He is touring back to the pits for a new one. Eventually Virgin find tyres for Glock and he rejoins.

Lap 39: It was an intense battle and Glock was perhaps hoping he would nail Senna before the leaders came through to lap him.

Lap 39: Senna is in for that front wing change. It takes an age but the Brazilian eventually rejoins after a total pitlane time of 40.4 seconds.

Lap 39: Buemi eventually succumbs to the pressure and Sutil is through for seventh place.

Lap 39: Button has renewed his pressure on Kobayashi, who is clearly planning a late stop so he doesn't fall too far down the order.

Lap 40: This now leaves the Force India to go after the top six and puts Alonso on the gearbox of the Toro Rosso.

Lap 40: Hamilton is eight tenths quicker than leader Vettel on the last lap but the gap is still a sizable 11.9 seconds.

Lap 40: Michael Schumacher sets the fastest lap of the race on his new tyres but he remains down in 17th position. He is now 17 seconds behind Alguersuari.

Lap 41: Nico Hulkenberg is now in trouble and the Williams is seen briefly with a trail of blue smoke coming from the rear of the FW32. He is tenth.

Lap 41: Schumacher sets another new fastest lap of the race - 1m39.895s. In clear space the German is chasing down Alguersuari.

Lap 42: Kobayashi is likely to fall in the area around team-mate De la Rosa at the tail end of the points if he makes his single stop shortly.

Lap 42: Kobayashi's pace is still pretty good on his 42-lap old tyres so the Sauber team may plan a very late stop to maximise his points haul.

Lap 42: The blue smoke has disappeared from the rear of Hulkenberg's Williams for the time being. He remains in tenth, just 1.0s behind Alonso.

Lap 43: Alonso has put in a slow lap in the 1m42s bracket. He falls to 2.4s behind eighth place Sebastien Buemi.

Lap 44: Vettel leads the European Grand Prix by 11.1 seconds over Lewis Hamilton with little change in the lead gap over the last few laps.

Lap 44: Lucas Di Grassi pits from 18th place and the lead in the new team battle. He had a 33 second gap over Chandhok prior to the stop.

Lap 44: Kobayashi is third in his Sauber but is yet to stop, which will hand Button the final podium place.

Lap 45: An amazing announcement from race control - Button, Barrichello, Hulkenberg, Kubica, Petrov, Sutil, Liuzzi and De La Rosa are all being investigated by the stewards for 'exceeding the safety car in-lap time'.

Lap 46: That obviously relates to the cars that sprinted back to the pits immediately after the safety car was deployed for that huge Webber crash.

Lap 47: Alonso is quickly told on the Ferrari team radio that five cars in front of him are being investigated.

Lap 47: Petrov in 12th is now climbing all over the back of Pedro de la Rosa's Sauber. This is the closest battle on the circuit currently.

Lap 47: Meanwhile, Hamilton is quickly reeling in leader Vettel again with the fastest lap at 1m39.776s.

Lap 48: Hamilton clearly thinks he can mount a late challenge and the gap is down to 7.9 seconds to Vettel.

Lap 48: Vettel is responding to Hamilton's spurt of pace but the gap closes further to 7.5 seconds.

Lap 48: Schumacher is still 17th but has closed that gap to Alguersuari down to under ten seconds.

Lap 49: Button is under a second behind Kobayashi now, still waiting for the Suaber to make a final stop.

Lap 49: Di Grassi in 18th easily rejoined still in the lead of the new teams battle. Chandhok is now 13.3s behind him, but will soon come under attack from Glock.

Lap 49: Glock is 20th and lapping almost two seconds quicker than the HRT, with Senna a further 21 seconds back.

Lap 50: Hamilton easily clears the HRT of Senna and is now just 6.6 seconds off the lead.

Lap 50: Hamilton is lighting up the timing screen as he piles the pressure on Vettel in the closing stages but it is a good lap from the Red Bull driver too.

Lap 50: Nico Hulkenberg is out of the race from tenth place. Possibly, the blue smoke from earlier has cemented his demise.

Lap 51: Hulkenberg kicks the tyre wall in rage after retiring from the race when set for the points.

Lap 51: Kobayashi continues to hold third and is setting excellent laptimes on his rubber that has covered the entire distance so far.

Lap 52: Replays show that Hulkenberg's right rear tyre delaminated. The flailing rubber then ripped away at the bodywork, causing damage to the FW32.

Lap 52: Vettel is responding to the push from Hamilton and sets the fastest lap at 1m39.141s. The gap extends to eight seconds.

Lap 52: The retirement for Hulkenberg promotes Pedro de la Rosa into the 10th place and the points. Both Saubers are set to score this afternoon.

Lap 53: The Sauber team are in the pitlane and looking to finally pit Kobayashi.

Lap 53: That promotes Button to third, Barrichello to fourth and Kubica to fifth.

Lap 54: Petrov is all over de la Rosa but up ahead Kobayashi rejoins in ninth after a reasonable stop.

Lap 54: Schumacher in 16th sets another new fastest lap of the race and is just 3.6 seconds behind the Toro Rosso.

Lap 55: Vettel holds a 6.6s lead over Hamilton with Button a further 7s behind in third but the action is further down the field.

Lap 56: Buemi in seventh has Alonso all over his gearbox again and Kobayashi is right there as well with less than two laps remaining.

Lap 56: Alonso makes an error, allowing Kobayashi to have a go at the Ferrari. The Japanese drivers holds off making a potential rash move on this occasion.

Lap 56: But he tries again going into Turn 17 and Kobayashi passes Alonso for eighth place - amazing stuff.

Lap 56: At the front, Sebastian Vettel is now on his last lap.

Lap 57: Alonso will feel even more annoyed having been drilled by the Sauber towards the end of the race.

Lap 57: Vettel has just a few corners to go with Hamilton still second.

13:44 Sebastian Vettel wins the European Grand Prix for Red Bull!

13:44 It has been a very strong drive from the German, surviving attack from Hamilton at the start and restart.

13:44 Hamilton takes second for McLaren, keeping him on top of the championship after a typical afternoon on fighting form.

13:44 Button grabs third for McLaren to complete the podium but is one of the drivers set for investigation after the scramble to pit.

13:45 Kobayashi passes Buemi on the last lap for seventh at the final corner!

13:45 It's a strong fourth for Barrichello in the Williams, holding Kubica back throughout the distance.

13:46 Vettel is delighted with today's win, telling the team it is "back on track."

13:46 Sutil finishes in a strong sixth place with Kobayashi pleasing Sauber with that late move on Buemi for seventh.

13:47 Alonso ends a terrible day in front of his home crowd in ninth with de la Rosa claiming the final point in tenth place. Petrov was 11th.

13:48 Rosberg finished 12th with Liuzzi 13th and Massa 14th. Schumacher closed to within 0.5s of Alguersuari but wasn't able to make a move.

13:49 Di Grassi wins the new teams battle in 17th for Virgin, with Glock 18th having passed Chandhok with two laps to go. Chandhok finishes 19th.

13:50 Vettel embraces his mechanics in the pitlane after his impressive triumph on an eventful afternoon in Valencia.

13:50 Senna was 20th with Trulli 21st and the last classified finisher.

13:51 Three drivers retired from the European Grand Prix:

Nico Hulkenberg went out from tenth place with only a few laps to go when his left rear tyre delaminated.

Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen made contact when fighting for 17th, resulting in that horrible airborne accident for the Australian.

13:52 The top three come out onto the podium and the German national anthem rings out for today's winner - Sebastian Vettel.

13:53 Austria's national anthem now plays in honour of today's winning constructor, Red Bull Racing.

13:54 Sebastian Vettel accepts the trophy for his second win of the season.

13:55 Lewis Hamilton takes his award for second place in today's race. The British driver is pleased and raises the trophy aloft.

13:55 Button is happy with his award for third but that may be under threat due to the nine-car safety car lap speed investigation.

13:56 The champagne sprays on the podium at the end of a close but rather processional European Grand Prix. All three drivers take a sip in the hot sun.

13:57 There are plenty of talking points after that race and that major stewards' inquiry. Stick with AUTOSPORT for all the news and reaction.

14:01 Here's our round-up of an eventful afternoon in Valencia:

Vettel wins controversial European GP

14:05 A dramatic afternoon leaves Hamilton and McLaren still on top of the title standings but Vettel is now up to third after his win. These standings could be subject to change due to that ongoing investigation into the laptimes of the cars that pitted immediately after the safety car was deployed.
World Championship standings, round 9:                

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Hamilton     127        1.  McLaren-Mercedes          248
 2.  Button       121        2.  Red Bull-Renault          218
 3.  Vettel       115        3.  Ferrari                   163
 4.  Webber       103        4.  Mercedes                  108
 5.  Alonso        96        5.  Renault                    89
 6.  Kubica        83        6.  Force India-Mercedes       43
 7.  Rosberg       74        7.  Williams-Cosworth          20
 8.  Massa         67        8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         12
 9.  Schumacher    34        9.  Sauber-Ferrari              8
10.  Sutil         31       
14:06 So Vettel comes through a tough and very hot race to win at Valencia, putting Red Bull back on track.

The victory was assured when Hamilton passed the safety car at the wrong part of the circuit, requiring a drive-through penalty. But there could be more to come with several drivers also under investigation for exceeding the regulation safety car speed.

McLaren will be pleased with a two-three finish to maintain the lead in the constructors' championship, but Fernando Alonso ends the day in a dark mood after a disappointing race.

Ultimately, however, the most important thing is that Mark Webber is unhurt after that incredible crash with Kovalainen.

This was the 2010 European Grand Prix on AUTOSPORT Live. Thanks for joining us throughout the weekend. We will be back for the British Grand Prix in two weeks' time.

  OVERVIEW EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX  
Race length: 57 laps
  CURRENT WEATHER
Clear skies High Temp: 28°C / 82°F
Track: Dry
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Monday 21 Jun Start GMT
 European Grand Prix Weather 15:00
Friday 25 Jun
 Friday Morning Practice 07:45
 Friday Afternoon Practice 11:45
Saturday 26 Jun
 Saturday Morning Practice 08:45
 Qualifying 11:45
Sunday 27 Jun
 Race day at Valencia 10:30