Webber signals title ambitions at Silverstone
Formula One:Mark Webber proved himself a genuine world title contender this season with victory in the British Grand Prix.
Last year at Silverstone Webber was contentiously ordered to hold station behind Sebastian Vettel as he closed in on his Red Bull team-mate in the dying stages.
Today it was Webber and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso battling at the front at the death, with the former grabbing the lead on lap 48 of the 52, going on to claim the ninth victory of his career and second British win in three years.
More importantly it has allowed Webber to close the gap on Alonso at the top of the championship standings to 13 points, with Vettel having to settle for third on this occasion, and lying 29 points down.
Webber said: “It was another great day for us, a great day for me. To win here again is a fantastic feeling.”
For the Britons, in front of a sell-out 125,500 crowd, it was a day to forget as McLaren pair Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were eighth and 10th, whilst Force India’s Paul di Resta retired after two laps.
After two days of rain that have caused havoc on and around the circuit this year, with car parks turned into mudbaths, drivers and fans were able to enjoy a dry race.
To that end, as qualifying ended in the wet yesterday, teams were given a free rein when it came to tyre choice at the start, and it was McLaren who opted for the wrong strategy.
They chose the hard compound for Hamilton and Button, while six of the seven ahead of the former - Alonso the exception - opted for the soft Pirellis.
In starting from pole and managing to get the run into the first corner, Alonso was able to make his two-stop plan work for the most part.
That was until his soft tyres in the final stint proved no match for Webber on the hards, with the Australian making his move into Brooklands with just over four laps remaining.
As for Hamilton, he finished where he started, with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa fourth ahead of Lotus duo Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, with Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher seventh.
Hamilton now finds himself 37 points down on Alonso, with Button cast adrift in eighth, 79 points off the pace and with his title hopes fading fast.
The 32-year-old, who started 16th, at least managed to collect a point courtesy of a mistake on the penultimate lap from Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.
For Di Resta, it was not the British Grand Prix he dreamed of as the Scot suffered his first retirement for 24 races.
Coming out of The Loop at turn five on the opening lap, Di Resta was sent spinning into the large run-off area, sustaining a left-rear puncture.
Although Di Resta managed to limp back to the pits, he sustained damage to the floor that forced him back into the garage at the end of the second lap, and ultimately out of the race.