Mark Webber won the British Grand Prix today and afterwards radioed the team to say, “Not bad for a number two driver” – a comment on the anger he still clearly feels about the team switching the front wings yesterday before qualifying.
Lewis Hamilton had a very strong afternoon in the McLaren, finishing in second place despite the difficulties the team had this weekend with the blown diffuser package and with general handling problems. Nico Rosberg finished third.
It was also a great day for the revamped Silverstone circuit which showed that the changes really have promoted overtaking. There were some great passing moves throughout the race; into the new complex, into the revamped Brooklands and into Woodcote. A huge crowd over the three days, including a record 85,000 for practice on Friday was a further shot in the arm for the circuit, which 12 months ago thought it had hosted its last British Grand Prix.
Webber admitted that he had been very angry when the team switched the front wings yesterday and was very motivated today.
“I’ve had a few hurdles in my career. You judge a person’s character by how they come back from adversity,” he said. ” Yesterday I wasn’t happy, but today went well for me. Some of the drivers offered me their front wings on the drivers’ parade..Seb didn’t.”
He added that he would never have signed the contract renewal last month if he had thought he would get the number two treatment. He called it an “appointment with karma,” in other words what was wrong yesterday was put right today.
At the start, the cars on the dirty side of the grid generally got better starts. Webber passed Sebastian Vettel into the first corner, Vettel ran wide at Copse, after slight contact with the front wing of Hamilton’s car, which sliced his right rear tyre. Vettel then went off the track at Maggotts, getting a puncture in the process. Alonso got a poor start and was swallowed up by Hamilton, Kubica and Rosberg into the first corner. Massa’s front right wheel tagged the side of his team mate Fernando Alonso’s car, also getting a puncture.
Vettel switched to the hard tyre at his stop on lap one and was 84 seconds behind his team mate at the end of lap 2.
Button got a great start from 14th to 8th, as did Kobayashi who jumped from 12th to 9th. Barrichello was strong at the start and managed to get up to fifth place by mid-distance.
Webber piled on the pressure in the opening stint, but Hamilton did well to stay within three tenths of a second a lap, given how poor the handling of his McLaren had been in qualifying.
Kubica headed the pack behind, with Rosberg battling Alonso for fourth. Alonso pitted on lap 13 and tried to undercut Rosberg, but he went wide at Copse on his second lap out of the pits.
Rosberg tried a different tactic and pitted on lap 16. It worked and he rejoined ahead of Kubica in the final podium position. Kobayashi also jumped Schumacher in the stops.
Button had also tried the same tactic as Rosberg and stayed out until lap 22, he jumped Barrichello and Schumacher by doing so. It took him to fifth place, which became fourth when Alonso hit problems.
Alonso and Kubica got into a furious battle, Alonso passed him off the race track but argued that Kubica pushed him wide. Alonso was told to give the place back but he didn’t need to because soon afterwards Kubica retired with a rear axle problem. However the stewards decided that he had overtaken when off the road and was given a drive through penalty.
Alonso was very critical of the stewards in Valencia, after the incident with Lewis Hamilton passing the safety car, calling the result “manipulated”. Most observers felt that this decision against Alonso in Silverstone was harsh.
To make matters worse for Alonso a safety car was deployed on lap 29 before he served the penalty. So he had to take the penalty after the restart which dropped him right down the field.
The safety car was a blessing for Vettel, who managed to cut through the midfield after the restart passing plenty of cars. He had a great scrap with Schumacher for 8th place, failing to pass him the first time, but nailing him into Brooklands. He took seventh from Sutil just before the finish.
Ferrari took no points in their worst result of the season.
Webber had a lot to say about the number two treatment he received on Saturday and made it clear that he will not put up with that again in future. Another intense and heated discussion with the management is likely to take place this week and one wonders how sustainable the situation is between the two Red Bull drivers. This is a pressure cooker situation which needs a release from somewhere. What happened at Silverstone made the situation worse and it will be much harder for the team management to smooth this one out, not just with its drivers but also in terms of public perceptions.
BRITISH GRAND PRIX, Silverstone, 52 Laps
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1h24:38.200
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 1.360
3. Rosberg Mercedes + 21.307
4. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 21.986
5. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 31.456
6. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 32.171
7. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 36.734
8. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 40.932
9. Schumacher Mercedes + 41.599
10. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth + 42.012
11. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes + 42.459
12. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 47.627
13. Petrov Renault + 59.374
14. Alonso Ferrari + 1:02.385
15. Massa Ferrari + 1:07.489
16. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth + 1 lap
17. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth + 1 lap
18. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 1 lap
19. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
20. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps