Webber steals British Grand Prix victory from Alonso at sunny Silverstone
8 July, 2012
Jul.8 (Apex) Mark Webber scored his second British Grand Prix victory in three years, and his second race win of the 2012 season, after turning the tables on pole position starter and early pace setter Fernando Alonso, in the final laps of the race at a bone dry Silverstone circuit.
Alonso managed a good start with Webber chasing, the Ferrari driver pulling out a gap in the early stages using the hard Pirelli tyre, with Webber on the softer but less durable yellow band option. The tyre strategy would prove to be crucial later in the race, but for the first two stints Alonso looked untouchable and in control, although Webber kept him firmly in his sights.
The final stint was decisive as Alonso’s tyres started to deteriorate rapidly, while Webber – on the harder rubber – simply reeled him in and on lap 50 of 52 the Australian tucked into the slipstream of the Ferrari down the Wellington Straight, and bravely took Alonso on the outside of Brooklands, a big move which got him the lead but took which two to tango safely and Alonso played ball.
Job was done for Webber and Red Bull, thereafter he eked out a lead to ensure that Alonso was incapable of bouncing back and the British Grand Prix was his. Delighted, Webber said on the team radio, “Another great day for us and great day for me to win here again. It is fantastic.”
He added afterwards, “It was a very interesting race. Fernando Alonso had very good pace. We had the better strategy in the end. We never gave up, kept pushing and it did not work out in the end for Fernando.”
For Alonso it was a case of ‘so near, yet so far’ as he defied the odds to snatch pole position 24 hours earlier in abysmal conditions, and managed to retain the lead after a slightly sluggish start off the line which forced him to go ultra-defensive on Webber. Nevertheless, by the time the dust settled the Ferrari led. His first stint on the harder rubber could be described as inspirational as he circulated faster than his rivals on softer rubber.
All was going according to plan until the final few laps when the hard-hard-soft tyre strategy ran it’s course and succumbed to the driver with the soft-hard-hard tyre strategy.
Alonso reflected, “It was very close today but at the end Mark was much quicker than us and deserved the victory. Now we are fighting for victories in the last three or four grands prix. I hope the fans enjoyed the show today. I’m still leading the championship and that’s the main target for us, we lost seven points with Mark winning but we gained some more points on the rest of the field.”
Alonso remains top of the championship standings after nine rounds, with 159 points to Webber’s 116. Red Bull top the constructors standings with 216 points, with Ferrari second on 152 points.
Sebastian Vettel took the final podium spot, but was made to work hard for the honour. The Red Bull driver dropped some positions at the start, but managed to recover third place after the first batch of pitstops and remained there until the end, unable to challenge Webber and Alonso.
The world champion summed up his day, “It was an interesting one. The start was not so good as we lost a position to Massa. It was a tough fight in the beginning, and it was fun, but not so much fun because we didn’t get past. We chose the right strategy to come back, so all in all I’m very happy. Mark deserved to win. Thanks for all fans out there – it’s been horrible weather for them, not just for us. But today the sun came out and British summer showed its best.”
Felipe Massa enjoyed his best result of the season so far as he crossed the line in fourth after a feisty afternoon where he battled strongly throughout, his tussle with his former mentor Michael Schumacher one of the highlights of the race. He ended the race a mere 6.5 seconds down on his teammate which will have done his shares at Maranello a world of good, in the light of a below par start to his season.
“I’m pleased, I’m happy. To finish second and fourth is great. It’s the best result of my season so things are getting better and better for me all the time,”commented the Brazilian.
Up next were the Lotus duo with Kimi Raikkonen finishing fifth and Romain Grosjean sixth, the black and gold cars were fastest at certain stages of the race but ultimately lacked the pace to challenge the leaders. Better starting grid slots may have helped the drivers as, once again, they were very fast towards the end of the race.
Raikkonen said, “We ran out of laps pretty much to try and pass Felipe Massa. We had a good car and strategy to take Mark Webber and I tried to overtake him at the start but we lost pace in the first few laps.”
Grosjean summed up his afternoon, “I think sixth is pretty good. We raced from 22nd to sixth after a change of nose, so to get points is unbelievable. We had some good battles with Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg which was fantastic and really enjoyable. There was a little bit of confusion at Turns 2 and 3 and a Force India came from the inside, touched my front wing and broke it. But there’s nothing you can do in these conditions.”
As is becoming the norm Schumacher was in the thick of things for most of the race, slugging it out with just about everyone. But the Mercedes clearly (and perhaps mysteriously) lacked pace around the high speed circuit which was expected to suit the Silver Arrows. Alas the pace was nowhere to be seen as Schumacher crossed the line in seventh, despite running third for the first dozen laps. His Mercedes AMG W03 appearing to run out of steam as the race progressed, as did the rest of the Mercedes powered brigade – of whom he was best placed when the chequered flag fell.
If McLaren was bitterly disappointed with its showing in qualifying the previous day, they would be feeling glum after an afternoon which saw both drivers finish in the points, but not where they are accustomed or where they would have been targeting.
Local heroes Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could do no better than eighth and tenth respectively, the McLaren MP4-27 simply not up to the job around their home circuit and without the tools the job cannot be done. Hamilton brought about some cheer by doing donuts for the fans who endured a torrid weekend and would collectively get the ‘man of the match’ award if there was such a thing in F1.
Sandwiched between the two McLarens on the results sheet was Bruno Senna who finished ninth for Williams, after starting 13th
On the other hand, his teammate Pastor Maldonado was courting controversy as he again crashed out while in a strong position and showing good pace, this time an unnecessary collision with Sergio Perez blighting the Williams driver’s afternoon.
The pair had been slugging it out for most of the race and shortly after they pitted Maldonado’s led Perez, the two got side by side but the Williams oversteered into the side of the Sauber, punting Perez off and into an instant DNF.
Maldonado limped back to the pits with a puncture, got that sorted and resumed the race to finish 16th. The stewards were to look at the incident after the race – but this controversy looks set to ignite, in the light of comments made afterwards, especially by Perez.
Perez said, “He [Maldonado] doesn’t respect other drivers. I was already in front and he should have given space not to crash but he tried to push me all the way. I don’t understand why he drives like that and I hope the stewards do something. It is not first time he has damaged my weekend.”
“This guy will never learn if they don’t do something. He could hurt someone. Everybody has concerns about him. The way he is driving the stewards have to do something. He affects many other drivers. I am not the only one,” added the Mexican.
Maldonado gave his version, “It was very disappointing moment. The race was going good for us, we had good strategy. In that moment I was coming out of the pit with cold tyres. I was on the inside of the corner, so it was mine, Sergio was outside trying to take the position from me. I tried to defend and lost the rear of the car and we bumped tyres. It was disappointing. It was an unlucky race for me and that is it. Sergio can say what he wants. We are racing, we are trying to do our best. I was trying to defend, he was trying to gain and this is racing.”
For Sauber things went from bad to worse, shortly after Perez’s retirement. On lap 39 Kamui Kobayashi got it all wrong as he came in for his final pitstop, aiming the car too much to the right he clattered into his mechanics and the lollipop man like bowling pins. None were seriously injured, but a schoolboy error at the highest level. Kobayashi resumed to finish 11th. The Swiss team will be ruing a day of missed opportunities.
If the McLaren boys were upset, spare a thought for the third ‘homeboy’ Paul di Resta who retired on the opening lap after being tapped by Grosjean in the first corner. This resulted in a puncture and almost a full lap with a flailing Pirelli which destroyed the Force India floor and a ensured a very early shower for the Scot.
A last word to the victorious Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, “It was a flat out race. We elected to start on the soft, surprised to see Fernando on hard but we knew we would be quicker at the end of the race. Mark was quick when we needed him to be and the pass was fantastic. Mark this year has been in great form. He is enjoying his driving again and his performance here has been very strong. To win just up the road from where he lives is fantastic. Mark is doing great for us, we love having him in the team. We have agreed to sit down in the next couple of weeks [and discuss his future].”
Subbed by AJN.
British Grand Prix – Sunday, 8 July 2010
|1||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||52||Winner||2||25|
|2||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||52||+3.0 secs||1||18|
|3||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||52||+4.8 secs||4||15|
|4||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||52||+9.5 secs||5||12|
|5||9||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||52||+10.3 secs||6||10|
|6||10||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||52||+17.1 secs||9||8|
|7||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||52||+29.1 secs||3||6|
|8||4||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||52||+36.4 secs||8||4|
|9||19||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||52||+43.3 secs||13||2|
|10||3||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||52||+44.4 secs||16||1|
|11||14||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||52||+45.3 secs||17|
|12||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||52||+47.8 secs||14|
|13||16||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||52||+51.2 secs||12|
|14||17||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||52||+53.3 secs||23|
|15||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||52||+57.3 secs||11|
|16||18||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||51||+1 Lap||7|
|17||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault||51||+1 Lap||19|
|18||24||Timo Glock||Marussia-Cosworth||51||+1 Lap||20|
|19||25||Charles Pic||Marussia-Cosworth||51||+1 Lap||24|
|20||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||50||+2 Laps||21|
|21||23||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT-Cosworth||50||+2 Laps||22|
|Ret||15||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||11||+41 Laps||15|
|Ret||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||2||+50 Laps||10|
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