Webber Wins at Silverstone
By: James Musoke on July 8, 2012 | 9:45 A.M. EST
Webber earned his second victory of the season and the ninth of his career. (Photo: Getty Images)
Red Bull driver Mark Webber drove a tactical race at Silverstone to claim victory at the British Grand Prix, overtaking championship leader Fernando Alonso on the 48th lap to earn his second victory of the season and the ninth of his career.
Alonso and Webber battled for the victory, which was inevitably decided by tire choices. Ferrari chose to start pole sitter Alonso on the more durable hard tire, while Red Bull went for the more customary choice of starting on the softs. The decision meant that after the final pit stops, Alonso was on the soft tire and Webber on the harder compound, which turned out to be the better race tire.
The Australian maintained a steady pace behind the Ferrari for the vast majority of the race, and after his second and final pit stop on the 33rd lap, set his sights on the race leader and closed the gap rapidly as they approached the closing laps. Alonso finally took to the pits on the 37th lap, and still managed to retain his lead as he looked to close the door on his second consecutive win at Silverstone. But Webber would put a sheer damper on his plans, easily closing a four-second deficit in eight laps up to take the lead with four laps to go and cruse on to become the second driver to win two races this season.
“It’s taking a while to sink in this one,” Webber said. “I think it was the circumstances of the race - for most of it I was marking off second place. Fernando was not quite out of touch and after the last stop, my engineer Ciaron came on the radio saying that Fernando was not doing much on the option tires. But I know Fernando is a wily old fox, I thought he was looking after the tires and just waiting to pull the pin and go a little bit. But when I got within two seconds I thought maybe he’s in a little bit of trouble and it was real. It was completely game on when I knew the DRS was available, I made the move stick and our hard work paid off for the win. It was a cracking grand prix today; the spectators got to see a good race and I’m pleased for them.”
Webber's Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel now set his sights on the ailing Ferrari, closing the gap to just over a second with two laps to go, but consequentially ran out of time and had to settle for the third and final podium position.
“It was a tough day today,” Vettel said. “The start was not so good. I lost a little bit and then got stuck behind Michael, but had a good strategy to come back. We decided to pit early and we came out ahead, so that was a good call. I would be a bit happier if we had won today, but it was a great result for the team, I am happy.”
After a shaky start to the season, Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has started to show some resilience over the last few races, and certainly looked very competitive at Silverstone. The Brazilian wrestled his way to a fourth place finish, holding off a surging group of Lotus drivers who were trading fastest lap times as the race came to a close. Kimi Raikkonen finished just 0.7 seconds behind the Ferrari to round out the top five, ahead of his Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean who finished sixth.
Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher finished in seventh spot, after easing past hometown favorite Lewis Hamilton on the 47th lap. Hamilton enjoyed a brief stint top of the leader-board, as he stayed out on his first set of tires well into the race. But after some pressure from Alonso's Ferrari with its fresher rubber, had to yield the lead and eventually had to stop for tires on the 22nd lap. The Brit rejoined the race in seventh spot, and managed to move his way up to fifth position, only to lose two positions in the closing laps to end up eighth overall.
“It wasn’t a great race for me,” Hamilton said. “I just wish we could have done more for the fans today. We tried as hard as we could, but we simply didn’t have the pace this afternoon. My tires were still good at the end of my first stint, and I was able to hang on to Fernando. So it’s hard to understand how we could be leading the race at one point and then fall back to eighth place, especially as our car doesn’t feel bad overall. I raced my heart out and was flat-out right to the end.”
Williams driver Bruno Senna finished in 9th spot, ahead of the struggling McLaren of Jenson Button, who made his way up from 18th place start to round out the top 10.
Webber now closed Alonso's championship lead to 13 points, with his Red Bull teammate running in third place with 100 points. Hamilton sits in fourth place with 91 points ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in fifth with 83.
The Formula One championship resumes on July 22nd for the Grand Prix of Germany.