Webber wins dry Silverstone after local boys stumble
Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images
Mark Webber has signalled himself as a serious title contender with his second win of the season at a surprisingly dry British Grand Prix.
Webber kept his nose clean throughout the race, holding onto his second place off the line, before pouncing on Fernando Alonso and snatching the lead with a superior tyre strategy.
‘It was a very interesting race. I thought,’ said Webber on the podium.
‘At the start, Fernando had very good pace. We never gave up, we kept pushing, and we were there to capitalise.
‘Very, very special victory fro the team – a local team. I’m very proud today. Thanks to all the fans for sticking with us today, it’s been incredible.’
The win takes the Australian within thirteen points of the Championship lead, which is still held by the second-placed Alonso.
Alonso led most of today’s race, but Ferrari opted to start him on he hard tyre rather than the soft.
The aim was to have him finish the race with a short stint on the soft, but race conditions soon revealed that the option rubber wouldn’t hold up as long as expected, ultimately sealing his fate.
‘It was quite close today, I think,’ pondered Alonso. ‘But in the end, the last stint, Mark was much quicker than us. I congratulate him, and I congratulate the Red Bull team.
‘Today, I think we lost seven points with Mark, but we gained extra poitns in the rest of the field.
‘Thanks to all the fans. I hope they enjoyed the show today.’
Sebastian Vettel brought the second Red Bull home on the podium, utilising his tyre strategy to stay in touch with the pointy end of the field.
Vettel opened the race on the soft tyre, and quickly switched over the hard for the rest of the race – which proved to be the right strategy, contrary to Ferrari’s preferred tyre order.
Despite the third-place finish, the reigning World Champion slipped a few precious points down the title order.
‘Yeah, obviously it was an interesting one,’ started the German. The start was not so good, nearly got passed, but it was really really close.
‘We then brought the right strategy to come back. All in all very happy. Mark obviously deserved to win today.
‘Thanks to all the fans out there. Today the sun came out, and the British summer showed its best.’
Felipe Massa put in a strong race to finish fourth, holding off Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages of the race to hold position.
The Brazilian continues to improve this season after a his worst season with Ferrari in 2011.
Raikkonen led hom team-mate Romain Grosjean, whose Lotus-not-Lotus ran out of grip as the race began winding up.
Michael Schumacher finished a disappointing P7 after qualifying third on the grid. Mercedes was banking on the race being wet after two days of heavy rain, but the weather stayed dry, limiting the team’s potential.
Lewis Hamilton had a similarly disappoitning race to P8. Along with Alonso, he was the only top-ten starter to try a hard-hard-soft tyre strategy, and lost track position because of it.
Bruno Senna put in a solid performance to finish P9, albeit aided by Nico Hulkenberg running off the track while trying to defend position.
Jenson Button was the last of the points scorers at Silverstone, salvaging the weekend to a small degree after a disastrous qualifying session. The Briton’s critical midseason run of poor form continues for another round.
Following Button was Kamui Kobayashi, who made a serious mistake in his last pit stop, running down most of his pit crew after entering his pit box too quickly.
Two members of the team were taken to the medical centre for treatment, though their injuries are not thought to be severe.
Nico Hulkenberg was the only Force India to complete the race – he was set to score two points before he misjudged his braking zone while defending, which allowed Senna, Button and Kobayashi past.
Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne finished in P13 and P14 for a lukewarm Toro Rosso outfit, while Nico Rosberg finished tragically in P15.
Pastor Maldonado attracted mroe controversy yet again thanks to a clumsy defensive move against Sergio Perez, knocking the Mexican off the track and into retirement.
Maldonado was able to return to the pits to change tyres and complete the race. The incident was set to be investigated post-race by the stewards.
Heikki Kovalinen followed the Williams closely home, while Timo Glock, Charles Pic, Pedro de la Rosa, and narain Karthikeyan completed the classified finishers.
Other retirements include Paul di Resta, who was involved in a spin on the first lap, damaging his suspension and causing him to exit the race four laps later. Vitaly Petrov failed to start the race after an engine failure on his warm-up lap.
Also forced into retirement was the Box Of Neutrals Twitter account, which was suspended by Twitter for unknown reasons. You can voice your displeasure at this injustice by Tweeting with the #QandA hashtag. Demand answers.
Formula One resumes for round ten of the 2012 season at Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix on 22 July.