Red Bull’s Mark Webber overtook championship leader Fernando Alonso with four laps to go to snatch victory at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone Sunday.
Ferrari’s Alonso, who had led the race from pole, had to settle for second place, with Webber’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel third.
It was a second win of the season for Webber after victory in Monaco and moves the Australian to 129 points in the Formula One drivers’ championship, 13 behind former two-time champion Alonso.
Alonso was in control for most of a race held in dry conditions following Saturday’s torrential rain in qualifying, but could not hold onto the lead after changing to soft tyres on lap 38.
A lead which had usually been above five seconds for most of the race was soon whittled down by Webber, who was on hard tyres after his second pit stop, and the Red Bull driver got past the Spaniard on lap 49 of the 52 laps.
“It was a very interesting race,” Webber said. “Fernando Alonso had very good pace. We had the better strategy in the end. We never gave up, kept pushing and it did not work out in the end for Fernando.” Alonso said: “It was very close today but at the end Mark was much quicker than us and deserved the victory. Now we are fighting for victories in the last three or four Grand Prix.
“I hope the fans enjoyed the show today. I’m still leading the championship and that’s the main target for us. We lost seven points with Mark winning but we gained some more points on the rest of the field.” Red Bull’s tyre strategy, opting for soft-hard-hard for Webber rather than Alonso’s hard-hard-soft, eventually proved the difference between the two.
“We elected to start on the soft, surprised to see Fernando on hard but we knew we would be quicker at the end of the race,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
“Mark was quick when we needed him to be and the pass was fantastic. Mark this year has been in great form. He is enjoying his driving again and his performance here has been very strong.” Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was fourth ahead of Lotus drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, with Michael Schumacher in a Mercedes, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, Bruno Senna in a Williams and Hamilton’s team—mate Jenson Button completing the top 10.
Vettel, who improves to third in the championship, moving to 100 points, said: “We chose the right strategy to come back, so all in all I’m very happy. Mark deserved to win.” It was a disappointing race for home favourites Hamilton and Button. Hamilton could not find the pace to improve his grid position and slips to fourth in the championship on 92 points, followed by Raikkonen on 83. Button meanwhile improved slightly from 16th on the grid to earn a point in 10th place.
“There wasn’t a point in the race when we didn’t have the right strategy but we were surprised to be that far down,” Button said.
“Our car doesn’t feel that bad so rival cars must be very, very good. It’s a little bit frustrating for Lewis and myself, we have to pull together and make some progress.” Meanwhile stewards were to investigate a 12th-lap collision between Mexican Sergio Perez and Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado which left both out of the race.
Sauber driver Perez claimed he was pushed off the track by the Williams driver after they battled at a corner.
“He doesn’t respect other drivers,” Perez told the BBC.
“I was already in front and he should have given space not to crash, but he tried to push me all the way. I don’t understand why he drives like that and I hope the stewards do something.
“This guy will never learn if they don’t do something. He could hurt someone. Everybody has concerns about him.” The next race is the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim on July 22.