It’s getting really easy to cover the 2011 F1 season. All I need to do is draft a template that says “Red Bull Renault’s Sebastian Vettel wins the (blank) Grand Prix, after leading almost unchallenged from lap (blank).” McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is the only other driver to score a win in the 2011 season, and it doesn’t look like Vettel’s reign will end any time soon. Even a horsepower deficit, courtesy of a malfunctioning KERS system, wasn’t enough to slow Vettel in this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix. Hamilton closed the gap and made Vettel earn the victory over the closing laps, but his McLaren Mercedes simply wasn’t fast enough to challenge Vettel’s Red Bull Renault for the lead. At the checkered flag, it was Vettel, followed by Hamilton six tenths of a second later. Hamilton’s teammate, Jenson Button, took the last podium spot but didn’t cross the start -finish line until almost 36 seconds after Hamilton. Vettel’s teammate, Mark Webber, took the fourth spot and was the last car to finish on the lead lap. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso took fifth at his home race, but finished one lap down.
Alonso gave his fans something to cheer about at the start, when he took an inside line and passed both Red Bull cars into the first corner. Red Bull teammates Vettel and Webber appeared to be more focused on battling each other for the lead in turn one, allowing Alonso to take an early lead. Hamilton’s teammate, Jenson Button, had a disastrous start and quickly fell from fifth on the grid to tenth place; only a sound pit strategy allowed Button to claw his way back to a podium finish.
Next up is Monaco, which is historically a game of follow the leader. There’s precious little opportunity to pass on the tight street circuit, and neither KERS nor DRS is likely to help during the race. If another team expects to snatch victory away from Red Bull, they’d best get it done in qualifying.