Webber beats Alonso and wins British GP at Silverstone
By Berthold Bouman
Red Bull’s Mark Webber fair and square beat Fernando Alonso and won the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this afternoon. The second win for the Australian this season as he also won the Monaco Grand Prix in May. Alonso had been leading the race all afternoon, until his soft tyres started to degrade and the Spaniard was not able to keep Webber behind him.
No rain at the start of the race, the sun was out and most drivers had set their car up for a wet race, so mechanics frantically worked on the start grid to change the angles of the front and rear wings, changing the set-up of the suspension is not allowed under the current parc fermé regulations.
The race saw mixed strategies as some drivers decided to start on the hard tyres, and some on the soft tyre compound. Initially it looked like Alonso had the best strategy as he was able to get away from the rest on the hard tyres he had started the race on, but during the closing stages of the race his soft tyres went off faster than the hard tyres Webber then had.
The top three Alonso, Webber and Michael Schumacher had a clean start, while behind them several fights for position were going on. First victim was Paul di Resta who turned into the pit lane with a flat tyre, but later had to give up as the floor of the car was also damaged.
Romain Grosjean was the second driver who paid an unexpected visit to the pit lane, he had to change the nose of the Lotus and at the same time changed his tyres as well. Not much later Lewis Hamilton reported he was already struggling with his tyres, he was on the hard compound, and he was losing time, but had to wait a few laps before he could change to the soft ones.
Meanwhile Felipe Massa was all over the back of the Mercedes of Schumacher and the German had to defend his line to keep the Ferrari behind him. Massa’s team colleague Alonso was still leading and already had created a gap to Webber of 3.1 seconds.
Sebastian Vettel was the first to pit and changed to the hard tyres and rejoined the race in 15th place. Massa had managed to pass Schumacher, and at the same time at another part of the circuit, Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado collided, Perez had to retire with a broken front suspension, Maldonado fell back to 21st and last place, and the incident is still under investigation of the FIA Stewards, as they decided to wait with their judgement until after the race.
Webber was next to pit and he rejoined in third place, Alonso pitted as well but because he was so fast on the hard tyres, decided to continue on the hard tyres and rejoined the race in second place behind Hamilton who was then leading the race. The decision to continue on the hard tyres, of course meant Alonso had to do his last stint on the soft Pirelli tyres.
Again Alonso showed his supremacy as he didn’t have many problems to overtake the McLaren, it was also clear Hamilton was struggling on his by then 20 lap-old tyres. The top six at the time was Alonso, Hamilton, Webber, Vettel, Massa and Schumacher.
Hamilton finally pitted on lap 21, changed to the soft tyres and rejoined in seventh position, behind Kimi Raikkonen but ahead of Grosjean. With his DRS on, Raikkonen was able to pass Schumacher, and Hamilton did the same on the old start-finish straight just ahead of Copse. No problems for Alonso, he had Webber 5.5 seconds behind him and the gap was increasing by each lap he completed in his Ferrari.
Also a good race so far for Massa who was in fourth place, behind Vettel and ahead of Raikkonen. After only 10 laps on the softs, Hamilton pitted again and continued in 12th place on the hard tyre compound and was then in a position to finish the race on that set of tyres.
But Grosjean behind him had other plans and it became hard to fend off the Frenchman as he was much faster than the McLaren, at the same time Schumacher had similar problems keeping Kamui Kobayashi in the remaining Sauber behind him.
After 35 laps Alonso was the only one of the top three who still had to make his last stop, but the Spaniard was 20 seconds ahead of Webber, so his last stop could mean the difference between winning and losing the race. Alonso made his stop and the gap to Webber proved to be big enough to emerge from the pit lane still in leading position.
Meanwhile there was pandemonium in the pit lane after Kobayashi missed his pit stop area and hit four men of his pit crew, three were injured and had to be treated at the circuit’s medical centre. The Japanese driver was given a 25,000 Euro fine for an “unsafe entry to designated Pit Stop area”. Rosberg also had a problem in the pits as his left front wheel wasn’t secured properly which cost him some ten seconds extra and he fell back to 15th place as a result.
With ten laps to go the order was: Alonso, Webber, Vettel, Massa, Raikkonen and Grosjean. Webber, on the hard tyres, was getting closer to Alonso who was on the softs, and as the softs degrade faster, Webber was still a threat to the Ferrari. The difference was just 1.3 seconds with seven laps remaining, and Webber had of course another advantage: he could also use the DRS on the straight.
Four laps to go and Webber was told by his pit crew Alonso had no KERS left to defend his position and Webber overtook him. Now the roles were reversed, now Alonso could use his DRS, but the Australian was much faster in the Red Bull and three laps later he crossed the finish line and won the British Grand Prix.
Alonso was second, Vettel third, Massa fourth, Raikkonen fifth and Grosjean sixth. Schumacher who had started from third place scored a disappointing seventh place. Not a good home Grand Prix for McLaren, Hamilton finished eighth and Button tenth.