Webber wins German Grand Prix

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The Independent Online


Mark Webber finally grabbed his first grand prix win at the 130th attempt by taking the chequered flag in today's race in Germany.





It secured the Australian a place in Formula One's record books as no driver with a victory to their name has taken so long to get a maiden triumph under their belts.

But that will matter little to Webber who can now claim himself to be a grand prix winner on yet another day of celebration for Red Bull Racing as team-mate Sebastian Vettel made it a one-two for the team.

Webber was heard screaming over the car radio with delight after he crossed the line before team boss Christian Horner proclaimed: "Mark Webber, you are a grand prix winner. You deserve it. Well done."

Webber's triumph came despite serving a drivethrough penalty for what the stewards described as causing a collision.

Also starting on pole for the first time in his eight years in the sport, Webber veered to his right as he and Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello flew towards the first corner off the line.

The Australian bumped into the Brazilian, yet it was the former who came off worse as they turned into the tight right-hand hairpin.

After confirming the penalty on lap 11, Webber eventually served it three laps later, following Barrichello down the pit straight as the 37-year-old made the first of his stops.

But with the Red Bulls too hot to handle at present, undeniably usurping the Brawns over the last two races as the team to beat, Webber strolled to the greatest day of his career.

He was followed over the line by team-mate Sebastian Vettel for a third one-two for Red Bull this season, the duo making significant strides into the leads of Jenson Button and Brawn in the relevant championships.

On three-stop strategies, Button and Barrichello were forced to settle for fifth and sixth behind Ferrari's Felipe Massa, on the podium for the first time this season, and Williams' Nico Rosberg.

With eight races remaining, Button's advantage has now been cut to 21 over Vettel who has moved up to second, with Webber 1.5 adrift and with Barrichello down to fourth, 24 points behind.

In the constructors' championship, meanwhile, Brawn's lead over Red Bull has been slashed dramatically to 19.5 points.

After winning six of the first seven races, and seemingly on course to stroll to the title, Button would appear to have a real fight on his hands, with Webber and Vettel his nearest challengers.

As for Lewis Hamilton, on a day when he and McLaren felt their year of woe would potentially end with a podium, he could not have anticipated it would end so disastrously and in such swift fashion.

From fifth on the grid, and aided by a push of the KERS button, the world champion made a storming start.

As Webber and Barrichello played dodgems, Hamilton appeared poised to take full advantage, only to overcook it and run wide into the sharp first-corner hairpin.

Returning to the track in fifth place, Hamilton's right-rear tyre was punctured by the front wing of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari, which was not to be the only incident of the day involving the Finn.

Hamilton was then sent spiralling to the back of the pack, forcing him into the pits at the end of lap one for new tyres and a heavy dose of fuel, wrecking his race as he finished last in 18th and a lap down.

Sebastien Bourdais, in what many believe is his last race for Toro Rosso, was the first to retire, followed shortly by Raikkonen who complained of a loss of power with his Ferrari.

That came shortly after the stewards announced they would review an incident with Force India's Adrian Sutil following the race.

Sutil was again on course for the team's first points, but as in Monaco last season, Raikkonen ruined it by damaging the front wing of the German's car just before the halfway point of the 60-lap race.

Behind Barrichello, Renault's Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen claimed seventh and eighth, the latter in the points for only the second time this year.

As the first Australian to win a grand prix since Alan Jones in 1981 in Las Vegas, Webber said: "It's an incredible day for me. I wanted to win so badly.

"The only thing I thought would beat me, or test me, would be the rain - but that held off.

"But it's a great day for me. The team have been incredibly patient with me, and I want to thank them and (owner) Dietrich (Mateschitz) and all the Australian people."

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Webber added: "There's no doubt about it, they are both up for grabs.

"Our big problem at the factory at the moment is building a big enough trophy cabinet

"We're taking the fight to the big guys, who will be back. But it is a special time for our team, that's for sure."

Vettel had no complaints with his second spot, initially offering his "congratulations" to Webber before adding: "He was unbeatable.

"But I made quite a bad start. I got passed by all the KERS cars - I was passed by both McLarens and Felipe.

"But it's another one-two for the team, so I'm very happy. I wanted to win, but Mark did a better job in qualifying.

"It's a good fight between us, so I'm looking forward to the next few races."

Reviewing his race, a smiling Massa said: "I've missed being in the top three.

"It was a fantastic race. I made a fantastic start, passing many cars - and it's a good result.

"This will motivate people to keep working hard for the rest of the championship and for next year."

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