Mark Webber served serious notice that he is a contender to take the drivers’ world title this year and should swiftly be rewarded with a new Red Bull contract by winning a dramatic British Grand Prix.
The 35-year-old Australian posted a near-flawless performance to triumph in an incident-filled race staged in welcome dry conditions ahead of his friend and Ferrari rival Fernando Alonso.
Webber’s Red Bull teammate and defending champion Sebastian Vettel took third.
The race produced thrills and spills throughout all 52 laps including an acrimonious collision when Pastor Maldonado of Williams drove into Sergio Perez’s Sauber and a pit-lane accident when Kamui Kobayashi braked late and hit his own mechanics at a pit stop.
Fortunately, nobody was hurt. It was Webber’s second Silverstone win in three years, his second victory this year and the ninth of his career, lifting him to 116 points in second place in the drivers’ championship, 13 behind leader Alonso who has 129. Vettel lies third on 100.
Webber’s win was witnessed by a capacity Silverstone crowd of 120,000 spectators who had braved torrential rain for most of the weekend. “It was very interesting for me,” he said. “Fernando had good pace from the start, but we had the better strategy in the end. We never gave up, we kept pushing and it did not work out in the end for Fernando.”
Webber admitted before the race that he had been in touch with other teams — and speculation has suggested he is a strong candidate to partner Alonso at Ferrari next year — but he said it was “not too serious.”
By joining Alonso as one of the only two men to have won two races this year, Webber confirmed his competitive potential.
Alonso conceded: “It was very close today but at the end Mark was much quicker than us and deserved the victory. Now we are fighting for victories in the last three or four Grand Prix.
No points for Force India
Sahara Force India had a disappointing Formula One British Grand Prix with drivers Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg failing to finish among points in the team’s home race.
Red Bull’s Webber handled the tyre wear better than Fernando Alonso and got past his Ferrari on lap 48 to win the 52-lap race. Webber’s teammate Sebastian Vettel secured the last podium spot. It turned out to be a forgettable outing for Force India, who are based a stone’s throw from the Silverstone Circuit. Paul di Resta bowed out his home race after a collision with Lotus’ Romain Grosjean on the opening lap. It seemed Force India would manage some points through Nico Hulkenberg with two laps remaining. The German, however, faltered in trying to save his ninth place from Williams’ Bruno Senna and veered into the run-off area. The incident gave enough time to McLaren’s Jenson Button to move ahead of Hulkenberg and grab the last point. Hulkenberg eventually finished 12th.