Webber takes the acclaim
MOTOR SPORT:MARK WEBBER, who won the British Grand Prix for the second time in three years here, may be an Anglophile but the 125,000 crowd had to confront a profound sense of anti-climax as McLaren’s two British drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, finished eighth and 10th respectively.
Nor did Scotland’s Paul Di Resta offer any sense of consolation; his Force India suffered a puncture in the very first lap, when his car was involved in a deadly kiss from Romain Grosjean’s Lotus, and his race was run.
It was a cruel perversity that the rain, which so devastated proceedings on Friday, stayed away, denying the McLaren men the conditions in which they thrive and keeping the safety car, with its mischievous habit of mixing up the action, off the track.
“We didn’t have enough rain,” said McLaren’s team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, afterwards. “I’m worried about the British countryside and I really think there should have been some rain this afternoon.”
He paused for the laughter that never came. If his little piece of whimsy was intended to disguise the fact that he is now a man under intense pressure he failed here too.
After some recent falterings, McLaren had to make a vigorous statement on their home track and on a circuit whose fast corners were supposed to be to their liking – wet or dry – and they failed badly. In the process they slipped from second to fourth in the constructors’ championship, where they are 74 points behind a Red Bull team who are beginning to find the rhythms of their old gallop.
Button started 16th and was soon 12th, promising something better. But he picked up a solitary point and now, 79 points behind Fernando Alonso, is realistically out of the championship. Hamilton’s hopes are also fading. He is 37 points behind and needs an imminent victory or two if he is to revive his challenge.
A rather crestfallen Button pointed out afterwards that Sauber and Williams were quicker than McLaren, in addition to Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus, meaning that his own team were a limping sixth in the paddock. Dire days indeed.
What is most worrying for McLaren is that Red Bull and Ferrari, who shared the first four places yesterday, appear to have come to terms with the Gordian knot of this year’s tyre problems.
Endless upgrades can take the Woking team only so far; it is forcing open the narrow window of opportunity that these tyres offer that will give them the time gains they need.
Last year, also, the British pair disappointed here; Hamilton was fourth and Button retired. They responded in the next race, in Germany, where Hamilton won. This month’s Germany Grand Prix will be held at Hockenheim, not Nurburgring, but it should suit McLaren and they need a similar response.