Date: 23rd May 2011 at 9:24am
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Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel may have taken his fourth win from the opening five races of the 2011 Formula One season, but he was pushed very hard by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull appeared untouchable in qualifying, but that sheer pace never materialised in the race, perhaps the intermittent KERS issue they were suffering had a big impact on their performance, but after 66 laps, Vettel only beat Hamilton by 0.6 seconds.

To say it wasn’t comfortable for the defending World champion would be an understatement.

‘McLaren were very strong, Lewis in particular, the last few laps I felt like China, with my tyres falling away. He was always getting in the DRS zone but in the last few laps I got a good run in the last sector to make it stick.’ Vettel told the post-race press conference.

It was a very different day for his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, whose performance to take pole position was soon forgotten off the line as Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari muscled his way past both Red Bull’s and Lewis Hamilton into the first corner, the Australian eventually went on to finish fourth, 48 seconds behind Vettel.

Alonso however also had a disappointing race despite his breathtaking start, during the early stages of the Grand Prix the Ferrari driver led his home race and the only way Vettel could get past him was by undercutting him on tyre strategy, from this point on Alonso continued to drop back appearing to struggle more than his rivals were on the Pirelli compounds.

While Button managed to make a three pit-stop strategy work to claim third, Alonso ended up a lap behind in fifth and very nearly needing five stops.

Seven-time former Formula One World champion Michael Schumacher will leave Spain with a smile, he not only took sixth, but also beat his Mercedes team-mate Rosberg, a rare achievement since his return to F1.

With a 41 point lead in the Championship many onlookers would think the title may be sewn up for Vettel already.

But McLaren do appear to be reeling in the Red Bull and while their KERS isn’t perfect there doesn’t appear to be much between the two teams.

What will Monaco bring this weekend?