Alonso conquers Britain as Red Bull fumble
10 July, 2011
Jul.10 (PVM) Shortly after crossing the finishing line, having just won the British Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso said calmly into the radio: “A very special day.” And indeed it was as the Spaniard scored Ferrari’s first win of the 2011 season exactly 60 years since José Froilán González won the Scuderia’s first ever Grand Prix in 1951 at the wheel of a red Ferrari 375.
In a remarkable coincidence, prior to the race Alonso himself was given a couple of laps around the former airfield in the car Gonzalez used to win on that historic day. A few hours later Alonso too was celebrating victory, albeit in the very different Ferrari 150 Italia. A very special day indeed.
Alonso finished, 16.5 seconds ahead of Red Bull’s world champion Sebastian Vettel with Australian Mark Webber, who had started on pole position, finished third for Red Bull ahead of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton who banged into Ferrari’s Felipe Massa at the final corner to secure fourth.
In truth the win, was gifted to Alonso by Red Bull after world champion Vettel was slowed by a wheelnut problem during his second pitstop, it was the 27th victory of Alonso’s career and lifted him level with the great Jackie Stewart in fifth position in the all-time lists.
Webber, who had started on pole position, finished third for Red Bull after trying to pass his team mate on the penultimate lap and then being told by the pitwall to maintain his position.
“I had two laps today with that (1951) car before the parade,” said Alonso of Argentine Gonzalez’s historic Ferrari. “Now 60 years later in the same circuit, with the same atmosphere and the same passion, winning again. I’m very proud…it made a special day.”
Alonso added, “We struggled when it was wet, but we got quicker as the track dried out. I knew I had to keep the car on the track and away from the grass, not to make any mistakes. I knew we had enough pace to fight for the victory and it came. We stayed calm and we knew our opportunity would come later in the race. After passing Lewis Hamilton for the second time, I attacked the Red Bulls. From now on it will be like that. All we do is try to win every race, be aggressive and keep our strategy at the maximum.”
Vettel had hoped to chalk up a seventh win in nine races but still extended his overall lead over Webber, last year’s winner at Silverstone who has yet to lead a lap this season, to 80 points from a previous 77.
Alonso took the lead on the 28th of the 52 laps when he pitted right behind Vettel, who had grabbed the lead off the grid. As the German’s crew battled with the wheelgun, the Spaniard slipped past and was gone.
“It’s hard to say how much we lost but surely we lost the lead. I think we had quite a cushion at that stage,” said Vettel, who has still dropped only 21 points out of a possible 225, of the pitstop drama.
“I think you have to accept fair and square that Ferrari beat us today…I think it shows us that we have to keep working and pushing very hard.”
Vettel said during the media conference, “I came out behind Fernando and Lewis and struggled to get past. I had some places where I was quite close but it didn’t quite work. I went in for my stop and had a longer stint at the end. All in all, we had a good race.”
The German added, “I had a brilliant start and was able to pull away at the beginning on intermediate tyres. Then we waited a little bit and were not aggressive which cost us a bit of lead. Then we had the pit stop problem. All in all, little mistakes here and there but you can’t it get right all the time.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner recognised afterwards that “obviously Mark disagreed” with the order not to pass Vettel and by all accounts is sure to make for some major column inches in days to come…. watch this space!
Webber reflected on his afternoon, “It was a mixed race, very slippery and tricky at the start with the inters on a half-dry, half-wet track. It was frustrating that we had to stay out longer than we’d like. Obviously, Michael pitted first and we were waiting to hear how he did. When he started to go OK we elected to stop. Just before my in-lap, I had a massive moment at Becketts and I went across the grass and Fernando closed on me. Then I had an interesting race. I was strong at the start of a stint and not so strong at the end. Both Seb and I were in big trouble with tyres at end. I tried to pass him but not quite.”
Hamilton entertained the fans by roaring from 10th on the grid to fourth, banging bodywork in a furious battle with Massa – who was forced wide and off the track – at the final corner.
Hamilton told reporters, “That was as close as it’s going to get. It was crazy. First of all, the team did a fantastic job with all the pit stops. Coming here today, knowing the support he had, I’ve never seen so many people here. The support is far greater than any other driver gets anywhere else. I felt it spurring me on. I had a good start, made some places up but unfortunately towards end I had to save fuel. I had to give Webber his position. Then on the last lap they said now you can push and I was like ‘thanks, after I’d let him [Massa] catch me up’ but I was not giving him that position.”
McLaren’s Jenson Button’s home race jinx continued with the 31-year-old’s hopes also wrecked by a wheelgun when he was waved away before the right front nut had been secured 12 laps from the end.
With the wheel wobbling wildly, he parked up at the pit lane exit and walked back to the garages without speaking to reporters.
The Briton has never yet stood on the F1 podium at Silverstone in 12 attempts.
Button said afterwards, “It is very disappointing. In front of my home crowd, I was enjoying the race, my pace was good. I caught up with Lewis, Sebastian and Mark. It was looking sweet, I would have come out alongside Mark after my pit stop. Hopefully we won’t have this sort of issue again. Anyone who had pace near the end had a chance of a podium and I definitely had pace. With the dry tyres on I felt really good, I had just got up to Webber before pitting.”
On the incident that ended his race Button explained, “The guy on the front right lost a wheel nut and he went to get another one but as he turned I think the lollipop man thought we were good to go. I’m sorry for the fans that we couldn’t do more. This seems to be the way of it at British Grands Prix for me, but I’ll try again next year.”
Mercedes GP’s Nico Rosberg was sixth, from Sauber’s Sergio Perez, Renault’s Nick Heidfeld, Mercedes GP’s Michael Schumacher, who was in the wars again, and Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari taking home the final point.
Sunday, 10 July – Race Result
|2||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||52||+16.5 secs||2|
|3||Mark Webber||Red Bull||52||+16.9 secs||1|
|4||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren||52||+28.9 secs||10|
|5||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||52||+29.0 secs||4|
|6||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||52||+60.6 secs||9|
|7||Sergio Perez||Sauber||52||+65.5 secs||12|
|8||Nick Heidfeld||Renault||52||+75.5 secs||16|
|9||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||52||+77.9 secs||13|
|10||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||52||+79.1 secs||18|
|11||Adrian Sutil||Force India||52||+79.7 secs||11|
|12||Vitaly Petrov||Renault||52||+80.6 secs||14|
|13||Rubens Barrichello||Williams||51||+1 Lap||15|
|14||Pastor Maldonado||Williams||51||+1 Lap||7|
|15||Paul di Resta||Force India||51||+1 Lap||6|
|16||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||50||+2 Laps||20|
|17||Jerome d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing||50||+2 Laps||22|
|18||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT||50||+2 Laps||23|
|19||Daniel Ricciardo||HRT||49||+3 Laps||24|
|Ret||Jenson Button||McLaren||39||+13 Laps||5|
|Ret||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso||25||+27 Laps||19|
|Ret||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber||23||+29 Laps||8|
|Ret||Jarno Trulli||Lotus||10||Oil leak||21|