Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel has said it was a 'release' to cross the finish line today and triumph in the F1 2011 Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.
Vettel managed to jump early race leader Fernando Alonso following the second round of pit stops and while he came under intense pressure from Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages, he did enough to come through to take the maximum points - despite intermittent issues with his KERS power boost.
The result further increases his lead at the top of the drivers' championship and he will now take a 41-point cushion to the Monaco GP next weekend.
“It was pretty tough today,” reflected the reigning world champion. “At the beginning of the race I thought I had a good start, I didn't understand where Fernando came from! He started behind me, 16 metres behind, and half way down the straight he was already side-by-side.
“He went on the inside of Mark [Webber – my team-mate] and I went on the outside, so he was leading after the first corner. We couldn't get close enough to use the DRS, but we got him with the pit stop.
“Fairly early, everyone was getting the options out of the way, so there was half the race left on the hard tyres. It looked like the McLarens were very strong; they stayed out longer on a different strategy, which bought them up to second behind us.
“From then on I knew that it would be very, very close; going into the last 10 laps felt the same as in China.
“My tyres were going away from me and I prayed the same was happening to Lewis, as he was catching up and they seemed so much quicker, especially on the last sector. At the end of the straights he would be right in my mirrors, so you don't know if you should defend or not.
“It was very close, but on the last two laps, I could make it stick. KERS was on and off, which meant I was playing around with brake distribution a lot.
“McLaren and Lewis especially gave us a hard time today. It's quite a release when you cross the line and you know that you made it, so I'm very, very happy.
“It was a great result and after yesterday a good confirmation that we are strong but, as expected, McLaren and Ferrari are giving us a hard time and are pushing hard – I'm very happy today.”