F1 2012

Mark Webber and Red Bull beat Fernando Alonso at British Grand Prix

Once the lights went off at the start line of British Formula 1 Grand Prix held at the famous Silverstone circuit, it seemed that Spanish Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso was set to repeat his historic 2011 British victory for the Scuderia Ferrari, until Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber turned the tables with just five laps remaining.

Both drivers started from the front row, with Fernando Alonso starting from pole position, and on his hard-compound Pirelli tires, the Spaniard easily raced away, leaving Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber, like many of their rivals cars equipped with the soft rubber, to chase him from a respectable distance. Fernando Alonso maintained his advantage after the first round of tire stops, when they both changed to hard ones. Consequently, it was the final stint that became the critical one.

Fernando Alonso had to switch to his mandatory set of soft tires on the 37th lap, four laps after his Australian challenger Mark Webber had changed to another set of the hard tires. Now the fight was on. Whereas the gap was 3.9s on Lap 38, it slowly but surely came down one by one. By Lap 45 Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber was shadowing Fernando Alonso, but the Spanish Ferrari driver held on for two more laps before finally on the 48th lap the Red Bull swept round the outside of him at Luffield and immediately raced away to an easy victory.

Fernando Alonso stayed in second place, just stayed ahead of German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel who had fought back from a relatively slow start in which he sustained some front-wing endplate facelift and lost out to Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher and Brazilian Ferrari driver Felipe Massa. A great pit-stop strategy from Red Bull was to bring him in on the 10th lap, which allowed him to jump them both to take the final spot on the podium.

Felipe Massa hung on in there after Sebastian Vettel had overtaken him and took fourth by a hairsbreadth as Kimi Raikkonen yet again ended a race with great speed in the Lotus. The Finn was less than a second behind the Ferrari of Felipe Massa 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 India’s Paul di Resta on the opening lap, to take sixth. Force India driver Paul Di Resta was the first retirement as a result, with suspected suspension damage.

Michael Schumacher could not protect the third place he held initially, with a car on the much awaited rain set-up and slipped back to seventh, overtaking a disappointed Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. The latter had led briefly lead the race during Fernando Alonso’s first pit stop after a terrific opening stint which took him six laps further than Alonso had gone on the same hard-compound tires. Later on, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver went not so well on the soft tire option, and as Lewis Hamilton’s final set of hard tires was not as good as his first, he was unable to do better than finishing the race higher than eighth.

His team mate at the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team 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 Brazilian’s Williams on the 51st lap, handing Bruno Senna two points on a silver plate and Jenson Button the final one for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. Jenson Button too complained of general lack of grip, exactly like his team mate did.

Behind them, Kamui Kobayashi took 11th after a strong race, which unfortunately was highlighted when he swept off three mechanics by slightly overshooting his dedicated pit slot during his second stop. Thankfully no-one was seriously injured, but the stewards understandably fined the Japanese driver 25,000 euro.

Nico Hulkenberg recovered for 12th, ahead of the duelling Toro Rossos of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, who changed 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 one who should have scored points, but after his first pit stop on the 11th lap the Venezuelan was involved in another incident when he hit Sauber’s Sergio Perez as they battled for track position in what looked like a drift challenge. They both spun, but the angry Mexican was unable to continue thanks to suspension damage. The stewards subsequently reprimanded Pastor Maldonado and fined him 10,000 euro for causing a collision.

With Vitaly Petrov’s 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.

Mark Webber’s win moves him to 116 points, with Fernando Alonso still leading on 129. Behind them, Sebastian Vettel is now third on 100 from Lewis Hamilton on 92 and Kimi Raikkonen on 83. Red Bull extend their lead in the constructors’ championship, with 216 points, with both the Scuderia Ferrari and Lotus, on 152 and 144, moving ahead of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes on 142.

Silverstone - Cairo - Abu Dhabi

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