Mark Webber won a strategic British Grand Prix with a finely judged race that saw him take the lead in the last five laps.
Mon 09.07.12, 9:09AM
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was second, ahead of Webber’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Behind the top three Felipe Massa drove a strong race to fourth. The two Lotuses were fifth and sixth with Räikkönen outgunning Grosjean after the Frenchman ran a compromised race having pitted in the early exchanges. Michael Schumacher took seventh for Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton was eighth for McLaren after failing to make an impression on the race despite leading out-of-sequence for a short while. Bruno Senna was ninth for Williams and Jenson Button took the final point in the second McLaren.
Alonso had converted his pole position into a good lead at the start but Webber stalked him all the way. And with the Ferrari and Red Bulls running different strategies, Webber had the speed advantage when he needed it. He made his move on lap 48 of the 52. Alonso did what he could to defend but didn’t take any heroic measures – Webber was going through and both drivers knew it.
Alonso started the race on the hard tyre, as did McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, the rest of the top ten opted for the soft tyre. Alonso made a good start and retained the lead while Webber hung on to second and Michael Schumacher kept third. Felipe Massa slipped past Sebastian Vettel into fourth. Alonso and Webber pulled away while Schumacher held up the field. The hard tyre was plainly the better rubber today, and Alonso used it to good effect, sprinting away to establish a lead of several seconds in the first stint.
Being delayed but unable to make an impression on Massa, Vettel pitted early, taking on the hard tyre on lap 11. On the fresh, hard rubber he put in a brace of quick laps and managed to steal two places when everything played out. “I used the momentum and got past Felipe and Michael at the same time,” said the German. “We brought the right strategy which brought us back – but you always have a little more on the tyres at the end. I was a little bit too far away to get Fernando at the end – but I’m very happy with third today.”
The real interest was ahead of him as Alonso was reeled in by Webber. Running two hard tyre stints, Alonso had pulled out a lead of six seconds over Webber – but the Australian started to come back late in the race. He took his second stop before Alonso and, with fresh hard tyres versus old hard tyres began to close the gap. Alonso pitted for his mandatory set of soft tyres perhaps earlier than he would have liked. It maintained his lead but Webber ate up the four-second gap as the Ferrari struggled on the softs. Webber made a textbook pass with the DRS down the Wellington straight, emerging in front out of the Brooklands corner.
“It’s still sinking in,” said the Red Bull Racing driver afterwards. “It’s a very special victory for the team, being from just down the road. Thanks to the team for doing a great job – and thanks to all the fans for sticking with us over the last few days…”
Alonso didn’t seem too upset, he emerges from Silverstone still leading the Championship, albeit by a reduced margin. “We lost seven points to Mark but we gained on the rest of the field, so a pretty good Sunday for us,” he said. He now has 129 points to Webber’s 116, with Vettel third on 100. In the Constructors’ Championship Red Bull moved onto 216 points with Ferrari moving into second on 152.