Race - Webber beats Alonso to Silverstone win 08 Jul 2012
For so many laps on Sunday at Silverstone it seemed that Fernando Alonso was set to repeat his historic 2011 British victory for Ferrari, until Red Bulls Mark Webber was able to turn the tables dramatically with just five laps remaining.
They started from the front row, Alonso on pole, and on his hard-compound Pirelli tyres the Spaniard raced away, leaving Webber, like many of their rivals shod with the soft rubber, to chase him from a distance. Alonso maintained his advantage after their first tyre stops, when they both changed to hards, so it was the final stint that became critical.
Now Alonso had to switch to his mandatory set of soft tyres on the 37th lap, four laps after Webber had changed to another set of the hards, and the fight was on. The gap was 3.9s on Lap 38, but then it came down bit by bit. By Lap 45 Webber was on his prey, but Alonso held on for two more laps before finally succumbing to the inevitable on the 48th as the Red Bull swept round the outside of him at Luffield and raced away to what was ultimately an easy victory.
Alonso clung on for second, and just stayed ahead of Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel who had fought back from a relatively poor start in which he sustained some front-wing endplate damage and lost out to Mercedes Michael Schumacher and Ferraris Felipe Massa. Great pit-stop strategy from Red Bull, bringing him in as early as the 10th lap, allowed him to jump them both to take the final place on the podium.
Massa hung on in there after Vettel had overtaken and took fourth by a whisker as Kimi Raikkonen yet again ended a race with great pace in the Lotus. The Finn was less than a second adrift at the end, and Romain Grosjean made it a good day for the Enstone team by climbing from last place after a brush with Force Indias Paul di Resta on the opening lap, to take sixth. Di Resta was the first retirement as a result, with suspected suspension damage.
Schumacher could not hold on to the third place he held initially, and slipped back to seventh, overtaking a disappointed Lewis Hamilton who had led briefly during Alonsos first stop after a terrific opening stint which took him six laps further than Alonso had gone on the same hard-compound tyres. Later the McLaren went less well on the soft tyre, and when Hamiltons final set of hard tyres was not as good as his first, he was unable to do better than eighth.
Team mate Jenson Button took 10th, but only after Bruno Senna ahead of him had unsettled Nico Hulkenberg who had held ninth for many laps in the surviving Force India. The German slid off trying to repass the Brazilians Williams on the 51st lap, handing Senna two points and Button the final one for McLaren. Like Hamilton, he too complained of general lack of grip.
Behind them, Kamui Kobayashi took 11th after a strong race, which unfortunately was marred when he hit three mechanics when he slightly overshot his pit during his second stop. Thankfully no-one was seriously injured, but the stewards understandably took a dim view and fined the Japanese driver 25,000 euro.
Hulkenberg recovered for 12th, ahead of the duelling Toro Rossos of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, who swapped places at the end and were only two seconds apart. Nico Rosberg was 15th, after dropping out of point contention when his left-front wheel presented problems during his second pit stop.
Pastor Maldonado was another who should have scored points, but after their first pit stops on the 11th lap the Venezuelan was involved in another incident when he clipped Saubers Sergio Perez as they battled for track position. They both spun, but the angry Mexican was unable to continue thanks to suspension damage. The stewards subsequently reprimanded Maldonado and fined him 10,000 euro for causing a collision.
With Vitaly Petrovs Caterham breaking its engine in the pit lane prior to the start, the green and yellow team were down to just Heikki Kovalainen, who brought his CT01 home 17th, well ahead of the Marussias of Timo Glock and Charles Pic, and the HRTs of Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan.
Webbers win moves him to 116 points, with Alonso still leading on 129. Behind them, Vettel is now third on 100 from Hamilton on 92 and Raikkonen on 83. Red Bull extend their lead in the constructors championship, with 216 points, with both Ferrari and Lotus, on 152 and 144, moving ahead of McLaren on 142.
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