Nico Rosberg powered to his second victory of the season at the British Grand Prix, winning a dramatic race at Silverstone which saw early leader Lewis Hamilton suffer a high speed blowout – one of four spectacular Pirelli failures on the day.
This handed the lead to Sebastian Vettel who looked to be cruising to another victory until the gearbox on his Red Bull packed up virtually within sight of the finish line.
Rosberg said afterwards, “It is a very special day. We are progressing all the time so it’s a very special day for me and the team today.”
“The win was for the team, it’s their home grand prix and so many of my friends were in the grandstands. It’s going better and better and the momentum that we have at the moment is amazing. It’s so cool to be part of this team at the moment, having a race car that can win is fantastic.”
“With Lewis, I feel sorry for all the British fans. It would have been great for Lewis. It’s always a massive disappointment but that’s racing. Sebastian stopped, I won’t lie, I wasn’t disappointed by that one. From then on, it was just a great race,” added the German.
Mark Webber recovered from a bad start, which saw him damage the front wing on his Red Bull. He ended up challenging for the win right up the the finish line.
Webber reflected, “It was frustrating, but the boys did a great job. There were a lot of issues with the tyres and we were lucky and it was a clean race for us.”
With Vettel not scoring it was a double bonus for Ferrari and Fernando Alonso who turned a well below par qualifying into a podium finish, with third place, after a typically strong showing when it mattered. He also reduced the gap in title race from 36 points to 21 points.
“It was a good race for us. We got lucky to recover some points and it was a good result for us in the end. We know we have a lot of work to do and now we look ahead to the next race,” said Alonso.
Vettel was disappointed but pragmatic, “It would have been a nice race to win. It’s difficult to feel inside the car what is wrong, and I saw Lewis’s problem with his tyre and we were told to avoid the curb and maintain position. We have to come back again next year and try to win.”
The tyre failures which afflicted four drivers – Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Jean Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez – will no doubt dominate the headlines in the aftermath of the race.
Although Rosberg was somewhat fortuitous, he nevertheless delivered a strong performance, as it was not a given that Vettel would be able to keep him at bay in the closing stages of the race. Up to that point Rosberg had kept the world champion well in his sights.
When Vettel’s Red Bull spluttered to a halt, 50 metres from the finish line forcing the German to abandon the car almost in the middle of the circuit, the safety car was deployed for the second time on the day.
At that point quick thinking saw Rosberg, Webber and Alonso dart into the pits for fresh rubber with the Mercedes driver emerging in the lead and the other two in fifth and eighth respectively.
Kimi Raikkonen, in second place raised the question over the radio: “Did we make the right choice not to pit?”
In the end it proved to be a missed opportunity as the Lotus driver had no answer for Webber and Alonso who stole what was a sure podium thanks to the fresh rubber in the last half dozen lap sprint.
Hamilton also got by Raikkonen to end his dramatic day fourth after an impressive recovery from the back of the field. At the time of the blowout the Briton had been leading comfortably, and when the incident happened shortly after the start/finish line, few would have given him any chance of recovering as well as he did.
However a couple of Safety Car periods, to clear debris from destroyed tyres all around the circuit, did help in his quest.
“The safety is the biggest issue, it’s unacceptable,” said Hamilton. “We had that tyre test to improve the tyre and to have four blowouts is unacceptable. It’s only when someone gets hurt that [somebody] will be doing something about it. I think it’s a waste of time talking to the FIA, and if they don’t do anything that says a lot about them.”
Raikkonen crossed the line fifth, and with that result set a Formula 1 record for most consecutive points scoring finishes, 25 in a row.
Also delivering a strong recovery after a similar blow out to Hamilton, was Felipe Massa who finished sixth after being demoted to the back when his left rear Pirelli burst. The result, coupled with Alonso’s showing, provided the reds with a healthy and much needed points haul.
Adrian Sutil was in the thick of things throughout the afternoon in his Force India, running strongly in third place until the final Safety Car restart. On older tyres he simply had no answer for those on fresher tyres. He finished seventh.
Also giving as good account of himself was Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso, slugging it out way above his remit and doing his shares no harm at a time when he is one of the candidates being considered to step up to the Red Bull senior team. His reward for a hard day’s graft was eighth place.
Paul di Resta finished ninth, after starting from the back row of the grid. He to went toe-to-toe with the big names, including a heart pounding tussle with Hamilton.
Di Resta commented, “It was a bit up and down. I didn’t have the cleanest race I would have to say. I’m satisfied at the finish. Given the way this weekend has gone it continues the points run, which puts a smile on our faces and we head to Germany looking for three days without issues.”
Nico Hulkenberg picked up the final point for Sauber, keeping the Williams duo out of the points in what was the team’s 600th race weekend. Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas were 11th and 12th respectively.
Also out the points were both McLaren’s with Jenson Button crossing the line 13th, and luckless Perez retiring after suffering a blowout.
Much is still to be written about what was a near catastrophic situation with the tyres. Four blowouts, all left rear tyres (the same as Perez’s failure a day earlier) is simply unacceptable. The near misses were plentiful as debris from Hamilton caused Vettel to swerve; debris from Vergne’s incident nearly took out both Lotus drivers, shards struck Raikkonen’s helmet and the Toro Rosso driver did well to keep the car from slamming into the barriers; large chunks of rubber from Perez’s destroyed tyre flew past Alonso, missing the Ferrari narrowly.
After Vergne’s rubber explosion, the safety car was deployed and just about every marshal at Silverstone (it seemed) was sent out on track to pick up bits of rubber, steel and carbon fibre.
Button summed up the sentiment regarding the tyre fiasco, “We’ve had five tyres [blow out] over the last few days, a big issue and something that needs to be sorted out. Don’t change how you drive but of course it’s on your mind. Happening at 300 km/h, like for Checo, it’s not right.”
“It’s not just dangerous for the driver in the car, it’s dangerous for all the other cars. The cars behind get hit by rubber that has metal in it. It’s got to change. I don’t think anything needs to be said. We all know the situation,” warned one of the most experienced drivers on the grid.
The racing gods were kind to F1 at Silversone today.
British Grand Prix, Race Result – Sunday, 30 June 2013
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||52||+0.7 secs||4||18|
|3||3||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||52||+7.1 secs||9||15|
|4||10||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||52||+7.7 secs||1||12|
|5||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||52||+11.2 secs||8||10|
|6||4||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||52||+14.5 secs||11||8|
|7||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||52||+16.3 secs||6||6|
|8||19||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||52||+16.5 secs||5||4|
|9||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||52||+17.9 secs||21||2|
|10||11||Nico Hulkenberg||Sauber-Ferrari||52||+19.7 secs||14||1|
|11||16||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||52||+21.1 secs||15|
|12||17||Valtteri Bottas||Williams-Renault||52||+25.0 secs||16|
|13||5||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||52||+25.9 secs||10|
|14||12||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber-Ferrari||52||+26.2 secs||17|
|15||20||Charles Pic||Caterham-Renault||52||+31.6 secs||18|
|16||22||Jules Bianchi||Marussia-Cosworth||52||+36.0 secs||19|
|17||23||Max Chilton||Marussia-Cosworth||52||+67.6 secs||20|
|18||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||52||+67.7 secs||22|
|19||8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||51||+1 Lap||7|
|20||6||Sergio Perez||McLaren-Mercedes||46||+6 Laps||13|
|Ret||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||41||+11 Laps||3|
|Ret||18||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||35||+17 Laps||12|
Note – Van der Garde qualified 21st but was penalised five grid spots for causing a collision at the previous round. Di Resta qualified 5th but excluded from qualifying for underweight car. He was ordered to start from the back of the grid. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.