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Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Sunday, 19 April 2009 11:05 UK

Vettel seals first Red Bull win

Sebastien Vettel approaches the final corner

Highlights - Vettel heads Red Bull one-two in China

By Chris Whyatt

Sebastian Vettel made light work of poor visibility at a rain-hit Chinese Grand Prix with a superb drive to give Red Bull their first ever race victory.

Team-mate Mark Webber made it a one-two to ensure it was a dream day for the British-based team in Shanghai.

Championship leader Jenson Button came third ahead of the second Brawn car of veteran driver Rubens Barrichello.

World champion Lewis Hamilton was sixth for rapidly-improving McLaren behind Finnish team-mate Heikki Kovalainen.

After two days of hot and sunny conditions for practice and qualifying, strong winds brought a continuous rain to the modern track meaning the Chinese GP started as the Malaysian race had finished - under the safety car.

The safety car comes out in Shanghai
It was crazy out there, there was so much aquaplaning

Jenson Button

That appeared to open up the field and play into the hands of Brawn GP, the championship pace-setters who were sat in fourth and fifth on the grid and carrying a heavier fuel load than the Red Bulls ahead of them and, in particular, Renault's Fernando Alonso in second.

But Brawn's drivers could do nothing about the consistent pace of the Red Bulls in the soaking conditions, with Vettel particularly impressive on his way to his second GP victory after becoming the youngest ever race winner in Italy last year with Toro Rosso.

The race started with eight laps under the safety car, though when it peeled off the cars were still engulfed in spray.

But Vettel drove flawlessly throughout, eventually beating Webber by 10.9 seconds as he occasionally clocked laps that were three seconds quicker than anybody else - and the 21-year-old German now moves up to third in the drivers' championship.

Australian Webber could himself have notched his first GP win but will have to settle for his best ever finish as the pole sitter took victory for the third successive race this season.

Around 30 laps in he and Button became embroiled in a battle for second position and both drivers made small but costly errors, causing them to momentarily skid off the sheets of water which stood on the sodden track.

Jenson Button

Button 'really happy' with third place

That period proved crucial for Vettel who, with Button and Webber trading places but slightly losing time, kept his cool to stretch out his lead and make sure of the win.

"I am extremely happy, this is the second time now [I have won] in the wet," he said. "The car was fantastic, the team did a really good job in fixing the problems we had and preparing it.

"It was the right decision to start behind the safety car."

Button stretched his lead at the top of the championship by a point as a result of finishing third and highlighted the difficulties drivers faced in the treacherous conditions in Shanghai.

"It was crazy out there, there was so much aquaplaning," he said.

"Every lap I thought I was going to run the car off, especially on the last corner."

Sixth-placed Hamilton secured three points after experiencing an improved showing in a McLaren car which is showing far greater reliability than in the first two Grands Prix of the season.

Starting in eighth, the English driver made an impressive early charge after the safety car went in and moved up to fourth position around the 25-lap mark.

The world champion's determination to challenge the frontrunners in a season in which he has largely been well off the pace, allied to the wet circuit, saw him spin off a number of times - but Hamilton expressed a quiet pleasure with the progress McLaren are making.


"It was terrible [conditions] out there," he said.

"There was a little bit of fun at the beginning when I had some grip but it was really tough. I'm sure it was the same for everyone.

"[But] the reliability of the car is fantastic and these were some good points for the team."

One of the most notable performances of the race came from Sebastian Buemi - the only rookie driver this season - who drove aggressively and, after briefly sitting fourth at one stage and then recovering from a minor crash into the back of Vettel, eventually finished eight to notch a point for Toro Rosso.

Reigning constructors' champions Ferrari had another disastrous race and it is the first time since 1981 they have gone three races into the season without a point.

Whilst going well in third position on lap 21, Felipe Massa's car gradually slowed down before coming to a halt as it broke down on the track, causing the Brazilian to retire.

"I'm very disappointed and a bit upset but my motivation is still intact," said Massa.

"All of us must work together to get out of this situation. The team is united and there is a real will to turn things round as soon as possible."

Lewis Hamilton

McLaren trio pleased after positive weekend

Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen did enjoy a brief battle with Hamilton around the same period as he looked to secure the Italian team's first points of 2009, but the Finn eventually finished 10th.

Force India came close to securing their first ever points in F1 but Adrian Sutil, who was in sixth place with five laps to go, spun off on worn tyres.

After the race both Red Bull drivers gave credit to the team's crew, who had to fix a driveshaft problem that had blighted the race cars in Saturday practice and restricting their running in qualifying.

They will now be looking to build on their first win in the next race in Bahrain on Sunday, 26 April.

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see also
Chinese Grand Prix race results
14 Apr 09 |  Results
Buoyant Vettel eyes more F1 glory
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Button 'really happy' with third place
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton faces long wait for wins
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Ferrari predict end to poor form
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Chinese Grand Prix as it happened
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Kubica and Trulli explain collision
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Chinese GP photos
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Chinese GP - drivers' news conference
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
The row that has split F1
17 Apr 09 |  Formula 1

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