Webber wins British GP after clash with Vettel

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Mark Webber turned anger into an astonishing British Grand Prix win as Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel again failed to convert pole into victory.

Vettel sustained a puncture after making the faintest of contact with Lewis Hamilton on the first corner during an enthralling start in front of a 120,000-strong crowd at a sunny Silverstone.

Webber eventually claimed his third win of the year by 1.3 seconds from McLaren's Hamilton, who has extended his championship lead to 12 points.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg claimed third, depriving Jenson Button of his first podium on home soil as the Briton climbed 10 places from 14th on the grid to claim fourth.

After the chequered flag came down, team principal Christian Horner told Webber over the in-car radio, said: "Well done Mark, you can smile now."

That prompted a remarkable response from Webber who said: "Well done guys - not bad for a number two driver!"

His comments were a response to the furore that surrounded Red Bull Racing yesterday, with all eyes on Webber and Vettel.

Webber was clearly furious after the team removed a new front wing and handed it to Vettel ahead of qualifying after the component broke on his car in final practice.

So there was a sense of anticipation as to what would happen when the five red lights disappeared to signal the start of the 52-lap race.

From his fifth pole position this season, Vettel immediately moved to his right to squeeze Webber who was forced to take evasive action.

But Webber had the power through first corner Copse, with the duo side by side, and with Hamilton on the tail of the feuding pair.

The Briton was so close to Vettel the left end plate on his front wing brushed the right rear tyre of the 23-year-old's Red Bull, just enough to cause a puncture.

Vettel instantly went off track at Becketts, the field streaming through in his absence, and although he was able to rejoin, he again ran wide moments later and dropped to the rear of the field.

He was then forced to nurse his car back to the pits, trundling in behind Ferrari's Felipe Massa who had also suffered a puncture due to bumping wheels with team-mate Fernando Alonso, and who went on to suffer another wretched outing around Silverstone.

It was an astonishing turn of events for Webber who was hounded by Hamilton for the first two laps, much to the delight of the home fans who had earlier roared their approval at Vettel's misfortune.

But Hamilton, in a revamped car after McLaren's upgrades failed to work, could not get close enough to make a pass, yet at least managed to hang onto Webber.

When Hamilton made his pit stop at the end of lap 16, he had enough in hand to retain his second place, coming out ahead of Button who had earlier made up six spots on the first lap from his woeful 14th on the grid.

Button, though, had yet to pit, but with the team delaying his own stop until the end of lap 21 it was a tactic that worked well as he dropped to sixth after taking on fresh rubber.

The reigning champion had been aided by a first retirement of the season for Renault's Robert Kubica, which came after a duel with Alonso that resulted in a drive-through penalty for the Spaniard.

Alonso had cut Vale corner in passing Kubica, even though he had nowhere to go and they would have collided, but he failed to cede back the place as the rules dictate.

Alonso was then further hampered by the introduction of the safety car on lap 28 to clear away debris from the rear wing of Pedro de la Rosa's Sauber from Hangar Straight and start-finish straight.

With Alonso unable to serve his penalty with the safety car out, he had to wait until the end of lap 30, dropping from fourth to 16th as the field had bunched up.

When the racing resumed Webber sailed clear of Hamilton, whilst Button moved up to fourth behind Rosberg courtesy of Alonso's penalty, but never got close enough to claim a podium place.

That was due to the fact he had been told to turn down his engine as the team were concerned he might not have enough fuel to make it to the end of the race.

Crucially for Vettel the safety car came to his aid as he was 15th at the time, but he then produced a storming drive, claiming seven places in 10 laps, and finally passed Force India's Adrian Sutil on the penultimate lap to move up to seventh.

Williams' Rubens Barrichello was fifth and Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi sixth ahead of Vettel, whilst behind the German came compatriots Sutil, Schumacher and the second Williams of Nico Hulkenberg to complete the top 10.

A naturally delighted Webber, who has moved up to third in the standings 17 points behind Hamilton and seven ahead of fourth-placed Vettel, wore a smile on the podium as big as the frown that yesterday creased his face.

It was his fifth career victory, and Webber said: "I did just the best job I could and it worked out okay.

"I enjoyed the grand prix and I had a good fight with Lewis, especially the first part.

"The team did a great job at the pit stop and I then got my head down on the harder tyre."

Asked to explain his first corner fight with Vettel, he added: "It was pretty straightforward.

"I made a good start, I was very keen to make it my corner and it worked out well for me."

After his second consecutive runner-up spot, Hamilton said: "This is just reward for the all the hard work the team have put in after the problems we've had here.

"Jenson did a great job as well, so it's a great result for the team and it means we're still leading the constructors' (championship).

"But Mark did a phenomenal job, well done to him. I was trying to do my qualifying lap every lap, but he was able to keep creeping away."

Rosberg was appreciably happy with his third podium of the season, in particular after Mercedes performed so badly in the European Grand a fortnight ago.

"This result goes down to a great effort from the team in turning things around after a disastrous result in Valencia," said Rosberg.

"The other thing it came down to was strategy as Ross (Brawn) did a great job on that."

Comments