Race - Rosberg claims thrilling Silverstone victory 01 Jul 2013
Nico Rosberg and Mercedes showed the depth of the progress they have made recently in tyre management by claiming a dramatic victory in the 2013 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday.
In a race blighted by several spectacular tyre blow-outs, Rosberg held off a tremendous late charge from Red Bulls Mark Webber to claim his second win of the season, whilst Fernando Alonsos third place for Ferrari and Sebastian Vettels retirement for Red Bull meant the gap at the top of the drivers standings closed substantially.
Rosbergs team mate Lewis Hamilton led the race from Vettel and Rosberg in the early stages, before becoming the first driver to suffer a left-rear tyre blow-out on the Wellington Straight on the eighth lap. Two laps later and Ferraris Felipe Massa suffered the same failure before Toro Rossos Jean-Eric Vergne made it a hat-trick on lap 15. McLarens Sergio Perez was the final driver to suffer a blow-out, this time on the 46th lap.
The first safety car of the day was deployed on the 16th lap as marshals cleared up the debris at Stowe corner caused by Vergnes tyre incident, by which time the teams were telling their drivers to avoid using the kerbs in case they were causing the tyre trouble.
When the racing resumed on the 22nd lap Rosberg started the long haul of chipping away at Vettels advantage, the German having inherited the lead from Hamilton. Eventually they were only a couple of seconds apart as they started to lap traffic, but then the world champions car rolled to a halt just past the pit entry on the 41st lap, prompting another safety car deployment whilst Vettels stricken RB9 was moved off the track.
That reshuffled things as Rosberg, Webber and Alonso all pitted. Rosberg timed it best, retaining the lead, but Webber dropped from third to fifth and Alonso from fourth to eighth.
Now the race was on, and when the safety car went in at the end of lap 46 Webber pounced immediately on Daniel Ricciardos Toro Rosso for P4, then Adrian Sutils Force India for P3, before slamming by Lotuss Kimi Raikkonen for second on lap 49. The Finn had also wanted to pit, but Lotus had missed the chance and he was now powerless on his worn rubber.
Webber, whod recovered brilliantly after tangling with Grosjeans Lotus at the start, set the fastest lap on the last tour to finish 0.7s adrift of the Mercedes, but it was Rosbergs race from the moment Vettel stopped.
Raikkonens slump continued as Alonso fought his way past Ricciardo, Sutil and the Lotus driver, taking Hamilton with him. The two former McLaren team mates finished 0.6s apart, as Alonso snatched a podium finish from one of Ferraris toughest races of the year. Like Rosberg and Vettel, who were also warned by their teams of imminent tyre problems, he was lucky, reaching the pits for fresh rubber before suffering the same fate as Massa.
The Brazilian, like Hamilton, staged a superb recovery, aided in part by the safety-car deployments, and despite floor damage, was able to climb to sixth by the end ahead of Sutil, who just kept Ricciardo at bay to the flag.
Force Indias Paul di Resta went into his home Grand Prix looking for the sort of hard-tyre run from the back that hed enjoyed in Canada, but this one was much less straightforward. Nevertheless he managed to score an honourable ninth place from 21st on the grid, as Saubers Nico Hulkenberg grabbed the final point ahead of the duelling Williams of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas.
McLaren had another disappointing race; Jenson Button was in the fight for points when the second safety car went in, but slumped dramatically from seventh in line behind it to a bitterly disappointing 13th place by the finish.
Perez had also been a contender, running sixth behind the safety car before suffering his tyre failure as the race resumed, eventually obliging McLaren to retire his MP4-28. Alonso said he missed running into the back of the McLaren by a centimetre as his tyre failed.
Esteban Gutierrez was 14th for Sauber as Charles Pic maintained Caterhams qualifying form to head home Marussias Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton, and team mate Giedo van der Garde.
Romain Grosjean was another to have been in the fight for points, before parking his car in the Lotus garage close to the end to join Vettel and Vergne, whose Toro Rosso had suffered damage during its tyre failure, in retirement.
The result closes up the fight for the championship. Vettel still leads on 132 points, but Alonso closes with 111 from Raikkonen - whose 25th consecutive points finish saw him break Michael Schumacher's record - on 98, then Hamilton on 89, Webber on 87 and Rosberg on 82.
In the constructors stakes, Red Bull have 219 to Mercedes 171, Ferraris 168, Lotuss 124, Force Indias 59 and McLarens 37.
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