No hat-trick, but Lewis is still on track

HE wasn’t the only Englishman to trail a German yesterday, but Lewis Hamilton was decidedly more cheery than his footballing counterparts after retaining his lead in the drivers’ championship.

Hamilton just missed out on a hat-trick of Formula One victories, but still kept his nose in front in the overall standings after finishing second behind Sebastian Vettel at an incident-packed European Grand Prix in Valencia.

After successive victories in Turkey and Canada, McLaren are Hamilton was looking to claim a first-ever hat-trick of wins, but, despite recovering from a drive-through penalty for overtaking the Safety Car, could find no way past the Red Bull ace.

Hamilton’s 18 points ensures he stayed at the top of the standings with 125 points, six clear of team-mate Jenson Button, who finished third. “I think it is just very, very positive to be leading the world championship,” said Hamilton, the 2008 champion.

“Both myself and Jenson we have been working so hard all year and the results show the effort that everyone is putting in. It’s great getting the results we deserve.”

Vettel led from pole to flag for a second race win of the season, but had to survive a first-lap coming together with Hamilton, who had taken Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber at the first corner.

Webber slumped from second to ninth after the poor start and his miserable afternoon was compounded by a 200mph horror smash for which he miraculously walked away unscathed.

Hamilton served his penalty on lap 27, but still held position, and despite pulling the German back in the latter stages, was unable to get close enough to challenge.

1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:40:29.571
2. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) +00:05
3. Jenson Button (McLaren) +00.07
4. Rubens Barrichello (Williams) +00:20
5. Robert Kubica (Renault) +00:22

1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 127pts
2. Jenson Button (McLaren) 121
3. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 115
4. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 103
5. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 98

I’m lucky to be alive, says Webber
MARK WEBBER emerged unscathed from his horror 200mph smash in Valencia yesterday and admitted: I’m lucky to be alive.

The Australian flipped his Red Bull up into the air and landed upside down before careering into the tyre wall after running into the back of Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus on lap nine.

“I was just having a shower and thinking, ‘Mate, you’re lucky to be in one piece’,” Webber reflected. “It was a nasty incident. I was surprised by what happened. I’m a little bit tender here and there but the car did a great job.”

Describing the incident, he added: “Initially I thought Heikki was letting me go. Then I thought he was closing the door and started to make little movements. I thought, ‘What is he doing?’ And then he braked 80m before I did on the previous lap.”

Kovalainen added: “I’m very happy that Mark is fine as well. It was an unfortunate incident that should not happen.”