Sebastian Vettel returned to winning ways with his sixth win of the 2011 season in a European Grand Prix that failed to deliver much in the way of action, but still secured a place in the F1 record books.
All 24 cars that started the race were still running at the finish, marking only the fourth time that an F1 race has been completed without a retirement while the race also had more classified finishers than any other in the history of the sport.
Aside from that, Valencia 2011 will be remembered for little other than another masterclass from defending champion Vettel, who made a solid start to retain the lead when the lights went out and was then able to control proceedings from the front to extend his championship advantage to 77 points – the equivalent of more than three race victories.
Vettel gradually pulled away from team-mate Mark Webber
through the opening laps of the race as the Australian found himself defending against the Ferrari
of Fernando Alonso
– the Spaniard having made up a place at the start to get ahead of Lewis Hamilton's McLaren.
Having said prior to the race that he was confident of challenging for a place on the podium, Hamilton's hopes all but ended at the start as his slow getaway also allowed Felipe Massa
to jump ahead, with the Brazilian briefly holding third going into turn two before slotting in behind Alonso as the field headed into turn three.
As Vettel continued to lead, Webber came under increasing pressure from Alonso but despite maintaining his position in the first round of stops, the Australian was powerless to stop Alonso diving down the inside at turn twelve on lap 21 to move into second place, sending the Spanish crowd into raptures.
Alonso wouldn't stay ahead for long however as Red Bull's decision to bring Webber in for his second stop a lap earlier helped him jump back into second. The pair then ran together, with Vettel a few seconds down the road, until the final round of stops when Alonso jumped back ahead having been able to run three laps more on his soft compound Pirelli tyres.
While Vettel motored on to victory, any chance Webber had of completing a 1-2 for Red Bull
came to an end when he was told to short-shift thanks to a gearbox problem in the closing laps and dropped back from the Ferrari
as a result.
Vettel's margin of victory at the end was some 10.8 seconds over Alonso, while Webber came in more than 16 seconds further back in third place.