German Sebastian Vettel claims Australian F1 Grand Prix

08:28, March 28, 2011      

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Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany holds up his trophy after winning the Australian F1 Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne March 27, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

German Sebastian Vettel signaled a fierce defense of his Formula One (F1) world championship on Sunday, winning the Australian Grand Prix with ease.

Red Bull's Vettel, 23, won an incident-free race by 22.2 seconds faster than McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

Russian Renault pilot Vitaly Petrov finished third a further 8.2 seconds back, ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

It was the third time Vettel's Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber finished fifth on home soil.

Starting from pole position, Vettel maintained his lead off the start, sped away and was never seriously threatened.

"The car was quick but also reliable and that is the key," Vettel told reporters in Melbourne after the race on Sunday.

"Its the first time I have finished the Australian GP as well, so I am very, very happy."

Webber, who was bidding to win his first home GP at his 10th attempt, was visibly upset and bitterly disappointed with the result.

After pulling his Red Bull to the side of the track immediately after the race, Webber walked forlornly down the pit lane and to the back of his team garage.

"It was frustrating, I wanted to get more out of it and I think we could have got more out of it today," Webber told Fox Sports.

"I wish it was already tomorrow."

"We were struggling with the tyres, every stint much earlier than everyone so already I was on the back foot in terms of strategy."

Meanwhile, Jenson Button was sixth, falling short in his bid to win the race for a third straight year.

During the race, he had to do a drive-through penalty after using a slip road to pass Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

"I tried to overtake him around the outside of Turn 11. I was in front before we turned in, but he went really deep into the corner and pushed me wide so that I couldn't take my normal line," Button said.

"After my drive-through penalty I had to fight my way back, which was fun but also frustrating."

Vettel became the youngest-ever F1 world champion last year at age 23, and he has now won the past three Grands Prix.

Drivers, fans and officials has paused for a minute's silence before the start of Sunday's GP race to pay their respect to victims of both the Japanese and New Zealand earthquakes.

Source: Xinhua

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