Webber wins at Silverstone
Australian Mark Webber recorded his second Silverstone win in three years following a close race ahead of Spain’s Fernando Alonso.
The Red Bull driver passed the double world champion in the latter stages of an eventful race to close the gap on Alonso to just 13 points in the driver’s standings .
Webber becomes only the second man to win two races this season, and his victory in Northamptonshire was every bit as good as his win at Monaco.
Webber’s tyre strategy proved to be more successful than 30-year-old’s, despite being stuck behind the Ferrari for most of the race with the Aussie using the shorter-life soft tyre during the first stint of the grand prix.
With Alonso using the harder tyre for the first two stints of his race, it meant his performance was affected by the degradation suffered using the softer tyres in the closing stages, and consequently was passed by Webber on lap 49.
As a result, the two friends, and possible team-mates next season, occupied the top two positions with reigning world champion, Sebastian Vettel third in the sister Red Bull.
Felipe Massa finished a much improved fourth with a steady drive whilst the two Lotuses,f Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, finished in fifth and sixth.
Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Bruno Senna and Jenson Button rounded off the top 10.
With uncertainty over the futures of both the McLaren drivers at present, the lack of pace at their home grand prix will cast further doubts over the team’s ability to create a car fast enough to win races.
Despite starting the season as arguably the quickest car on the circuit, the improvements made by their rivals look to have sent the British team backwards.
Both Hamilton and Button have recorded victories this season; however an eighth and tenth finish is not where a team of such high calibre should be.
Both drivers are looking to add to their solitary world titles and this poor showing will damage both duos’ hopes of securing another championship, as well as the team’s constructors title hopes.
However whilst one team falters, another prevails, and despite Vettel being cruelly denied a victory in Valencia a fortnight ago (by a faulty engine), the current pace of the Red Bull cars look hot.
They lead the constructors table by 64 points, and look to have now secured a race (and title) winning package.
However as good as the drive was by Webber, this race victory for Christian Horber’s team was down to the strategy.
Webber, in second place, managed to close the four-second gap between him and Alonso after the final round of pit-stops and subsequently passed him around the outside of Brooklands corner, aided by the Drag Reduction System.
Alonso could do nothing to prevent his rival from overtaking him and driving on towards the chequered flag.
This is the second time Alonso has had an issue with his tyres, with the Spaniard also struggling with them in the Canadian Grand Prix which cost him arguably up to five places whilst he was a sitting duck to the four men that passed him.
However this weekend wasn’t so harsh on the Ferrari driver, and a respectable second is still impressive by perhaps the best driver in the field.
After his race win, Webber stated: “I’ve had a few [wins], but this one is taking a little bit to sink in. It didn’t look like a spectacular race between us initially, but it was one – pacing the stints on the tyres, Fernando starting on the harder tyre…
“After the first stint Fernando had I thought he was in good shape to close the win out. But it came our way and I am absolutely over the moon, absolutely rapt.
“I had a single opportunity to pounce and I wasn’t going to let that slip. Fernando, with the front-left tyre, if you lose balance around this place, the speed is very high in that [second] sector and it’s very hard for the driver to do something.
“It was obvious he was pushing as hard as possible but the balance wasn’t with him.”
For a race day threatened by rain – after the showers of the practise sessions, and the qualifying on the Saturday – the downpour never came and blue skies opened up above Silverstone.
This never really gave the back markers any hope of making an impression on the race, and for Button, any hope of securing a potential high scoring points position.
Button struggled throughout, and with Michael Schumacher passing Lewis Hamilton in the final few laps, it summed up a miserable weekend for the McLaren team, where they will be hoping fortunes take a turn for the better at Hockenheim in two weeks’ time.
Full race standings for the British Grand Prix:
20) De la Rosa
OUT – Perez, Di Resta and Petrov
The German Grand Prix takes place on the weekend of the 20-22 July