Date: 23rd May 2011 at 11:43am
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Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel extended his lead to 41 points after his fourth win of the season in Spain.

But Vettel was really pushed from the start for his latest victory.

?It was pretty tough today.’ Vettel confessed to formula1.com after the race.

Starting the Grand Prix from second on the grid behind team-mate Mark Webber, he was overtaken by a stunning start from Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard in his home Grand Prix launched himself off the grid, past McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and both Red Bull drivers to take the lead on the first corner.

?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 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.’

Once the threat from Alonso had passed Vettel probably thought he would gallop away to an easy victory, but McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton had other ideas.

‘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.’

McLaren will undoubtedly be buoyed by their performance to take second and third positions and for Hamilton to finish within a second of Vettel at the chequered flag, however Vettel did confirm that he had struggled with KERS all weekend.

He originally lost it in qualifying which probably cost him a chance of pole position and in the race it appeared rather intermittent.

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. ? Vettel concluded after Sunday’s race.