Fernando Alonso won a thrilling British Grand Prix at Silverstone ahead of the Red Bull pair Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
Vettel lost the lead to Alonso when his second pit stop went disastrously wrong. He lost further time behind Lewis Hamilton and could not bridge the gap to the Ferrari driver.
It was Alonso’s first win of the season, the 27th of his career and his second at Silverstone. Earlier in the day he had driven the Ferrari which won this race 60 years ago and he was proud to have delivered the win on such an important anniversary, which underlines how long Ferrari have been in F1.
“It’s difficult to know what would have happened without the problem of Sebastian. It’s not easy to overtake so for sure the pit stop problem helped,” said Alonso.
There was heavy rainfall in the hour before the race start, particularly around the old pits building and the complex of corners leading to Copse.
So wet was the track, with Perez losing control on the formation lap, the intermediate tyre was the only choice for the start.
Sebastian Vettel won the start against his team mate the pole sitter Mark Webber. Vettel got a perfect getaway, while Webber bogged down. Starts have been a consistent problem for Webber all season and the initiative he had gained in qualifying was lost in the first 200 metres of the race.
Button got a good start up to fourth from fifth on the grid., as did Lewis Hamilton, who made up four places on the opening lap.
Schumacher was the first to take the soft slick tyres on lap 11, he was forced to stop after sliding into Kobayashi and losing his nose cone.
As he set fastest sector times, Button switched too, with Alonso and Webber coming in a lap later, as did Hamilton.
Vettel had the luxury of taking an extra lap before making his stop. Vettel had a 6 second lead before the stops and afterwards it was down to 3.3 seconds.
The McLaren worked well on slick tyres on a damp track; Button passed Massa for P5 and shortly afterwards Hamilton passed Alonso on the wettest part of the circuit for third place.
Webber closed up on his team mate on the slick tyres.
Hamilton’s tyres began to drop off and Alonso was able to repass him using DRS on the Wellington Straight.
Paul Di Resta was going very well in seventh place, lapping faster than the cars behind including Rosberg’s Mercedes, but a disastrous stop on lap 26 cost him a lot of time. The team was ready for Sutil. Then Di Resta’s race was ruined by contact with a Toro Rosso.
A disastrous stop for Vettel also cost him the lead to Alonso. On a track still damp in parts the lesson was that old tyres up to temperature were faster than brand new tyres. Alonso and Hamilton used this to undercut Webber and when Vettel had his problem, both men found themselves ahead of the world champion.
As Alonso drove away from them, Vettel was faster than Hamilton and had to try to make a pass.
Alonso was almost two seconds a lap faster than Hamilton around lap 32. Still Vettel didn’t try a move on Hamilton.
Red Bull had to wait until lap 37 to pit Vettel – because any earlier and he may not have made the finish – and he duly undercut Hamilton for second place.
Alonso pitted a lap later and maintained his 10 second lead. Button pitted at the same time but his front right wheel not wasn’t attached and he had to stop the car at the pit exit.
The new interpretation on Engine mapping for blown diffusers meant a change in fuel consumption for the race and with 15 laps to go Hamilton had to go into fuel saving mode, allowing Webber to close on him and pass for a podium place with five laps to go.
At the front Alonso was able to continue to drive away from Vettel, who fell into the clutches of Webber at the end. But the Australian was told by the team to ‘maintain the gap’ and did not try a pass.
Meanwhile Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari got into the points from the lower third of the grid for the third race in a row.
BRITISH GRAND PRIX, Silverstone, 52 laps
1. Alonso Ferrari 1h28:41.194
2. Vettel Red Bull + 16.511
3. Webber Red Bull + 16.947
4. Hamilton McLaren + 28.986
5. Massa Ferrari + 29.010
6. Rosberg Mercedes + 1:00.665
7. Perez Sauber + 1:05.590
8. Heidfeld Renault + 1:15.542
9. Schumacher Mercedes + 1:17.912
10. Alguersuari Toro Rosso + 1:19.108
11. Sutil Force India + 1:19.712
12. Petrov Renault + 1:20.600
13. Barrichello Williams + 1 lap
14. Maldonado Williams + 1 lap
15. Di Resta Force India + 1 lap
16. Glock Virgin + 2 laps
17. D’Ambrosio Virgin + 2 laps
18. Liuzzi HRT + 2 laps
19. Ricciardo HRT + 3 laps