ROUND 9 - Great Britain 6-8 July 2012
Venue: SILVERSTONE, birthplace of the World Championship
Circuit Length: 5.891 Km
Lap Record: 1:30.874 = 233.373 km/h - F. Alonso (Ferrari) 2010
Pole Position: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 1:51.746 = 189.783 km/h
1st: Mark Webber (Red Bull Renault) 1:25.11.288 (average race speed 215.662 km/h)
2nd: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), gap 3.060s
3rd: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Renault), gap 4.836s
Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus Renault), 1:34.661 = 224.037 km/h on lap 50
‘THE LOVE AFFAIR CONTINUES’: SILVERSTONE IN 10 QUICK BITES
Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso laid on one of their signature duels for a British Grand Prix crowd at last basking in the sun – and Red Bull’s Webber came out on top with a brilliant second victory of the 2012 season. Mark made a trademark round-the-outside move on Alonso’s Ferrari at Brooklands corner five laps from the end of the 52-lap race to claim the lead and swept home with three seconds in hand for the ninth victory of his Formula 1 career.
The two men were on opposite strategies, Alonso starting from pole on Pirelli’s Hard compound, Webber on the Soft tyres. By race end when Alonso was on the softer option the Ferrari man was struggling: “Once I was right with Fernando, I could see where he was struggling with his car relative to mine,” said a jubilant Webber. “By that stage, I could smell blood and I went for it.”
With his second Monaco win also in the locker, Webber joins Alonso as a double winner in 2012 and is now just 13 points adrift of his great rival in the title fight. “I love racing at Silverstone,” says Mark. “I won my first race at the track in Formula Ford in ’96 and the love affair continues. It’s the only race of the year where I get to sleep in my own bed, which is beneficial. I was able to take the dogs for a run this morning, which is always a great way to start the day.”
Alonso started from his first pole position since Singapore 2010 and took consolation in the gap between the two front-runners and the chasing pack: “I’m very proud of the Ferrari recovery in the last few weeks and now we are fighting for the victory in the last three or four grands prix,” he said. “So we’re heading in the right direction. Today I think we lost seven points with Mark but we gained some extra points on the rest of the field. So I think it was a good Sunday in terms of championship points for us.”
Behind them Sebastian Vettel brought the second Red Bull Renault home in third place to consolidate the team’s position at the top of the Constructors’ standings. “It was a tough day today,” admitted the reigning World Champion. “The start was not so good. I lost a little bit and then got stuck behind Michael [Schumacher], but had a good strategy to come back. We decided to pit early and we came out ahead, so that was a good call. I would be a bit happier if we had won today, but it was a great result for the team, I am happy.” Red Bull leads Ferrari by 216 points to 152.
Felipe Massa snared his best finish of the season after a feisty drive to fourth place in the second Ferrari, while the Lotus pairing of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean again underlined their competitive edge with fifth and sixth places respectively. The Finn also set fastest race lap for the second time this season.
Surprise of the day, apart from the weather staying dry, was the lacklustre performance of McLaren Mercedes in their home race. Jenson Button failed to get through Q1 on Saturday and only just squeaked into 10th place for the final point, while Lewis Hamilton was eighth. “It was good to get a point in my Grand Prix, but of course that’s not what we ought to be doing,” said Melbourne winner Button, who has scored just seven points in the last six Grands Prix. “We’re a front-running team and we’ve got a bit of work to do to start running at the front again. I don’t think we made any mistakes with our strategy today; we’re just not quite quick enough at the moment, that’s all.”
Two of the race’s main talking-points concerned the Sauber team. At his second stop Kamui Kobayashi braked late, lost control of the car on the concrete apron outside his box and collected three mechanics, though fortunately all seem to have suffered only minor cuts and bruises.
At quarter-distance Sergio Perez in the other Sauber saw his race end early when he was collected by the Williams of Pastor Maldonado. “I am very upset as my weekend has been ruined,” said the young Mexican. “I braked later than Maldonado, he didn’t give me any room at all and just came into me. In my view it was not a racing incident.” By the time he offered his post-race comments Perez had calmed down, but in the immediate aftermath he called the Venezuelan “a very stupid driver, a very dangerous driver” and called for action against Maldonado.
While Dan Ricciardo again finished outside the points in 13th place in his Toro Rosso, his fellow-Aussie was basking in sunshine of his own. “It’s taking a while to sink in, this one,” Webber concluded. “After the last stop, my engineer Ciaron came on the radio saying that Fernando was not doing much on the option tyres. But I know Fernando is a wily old fox, I thought he was looking after the tyres and just waiting to pull the pin and go a little bit. But when I got within two seconds I thought maybe he’s in a little bit of trouble and it was real.”