Webber Wins British Grand Prix to Narrow Gap on Leader Alonso

Mark Webber of Red Bull won yesterday’s British Grand Prix, overtaking Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in the closing stages to narrow the gap on the Spaniard in the Formula One drivers’ standings.

It was Webber’s second win in three years at Silverstone. His teammate, two-time defending series champion Sebastian Vettel, was third in the 52-lap event. The result narrows Alonso’s advantage over Webber to 13 points from 20.

“We never gave up, we kept pushing, and it didn’t really work out for Fernando at the end,” Webber told the post-race presentation. “It was another great day for us, a great day for me. To win here again is a fantastic feeling.”

It was Webber’s second win this season and the ninth of the 35-year-old Australian’s career.

The buildup to the race had been disrupted by torrential rain in recent days. Thousands of fans were urged to stay away from qualifying sessions as car parks turned into a sea of mud. Conditions were fine for yesterday’s race.

Alonso was on pole for the first time in almost two years. He made a good start, cutting across Webber, who stayed second ahead of Mercedes’s Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa of Ferrari, who’d got past Vettel.

Alonso went into the pits on lap 16 and emerged in second spot behind McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and ahead of Webber, Vettel and Massa. Alonso and Hamilton dueled for the lead, each momentarily going in front, with Hamilton repelling the Spaniard’s challenge.

Pit Stops

Hamilton took a second pit stop in quick succession for harder tires, rejoining in 12th place. There followed a round of pit stops, and Alonso built enough of a lead to be able to pit and rejoin the race in front after 37 laps, remaining ahead of Webber, Vettel and Massa.

Alonso appeared to be in control of the race but Webber stepped up the pressure, reducing the gap to half a second, and took the lead as Alonso’s softer tires ran out of grip. Four laps from the end, the Australian passed the two-time world champion on the outside and went on to seal victory, and 25 points, by a three-second margin. Alonso gets 18 points for coming second.

Webber, whose contract ends this season, has been linked with a possible move to Ferrari. He and Alonso are the only two drivers to have won more than one race in 2012.

‘Very Close’

“It was very close today but at the end Mark was much quicker than us and deserved the victory,” Alonso said. “Thanks to the fans for coming through the bad weather, I hope they enjoyed it. I’m still leading the championship and that’s the main target. We lost seven points with Mark winning but we gained some more points on the rest of the field.”

Massa finished fourth, followed by Lotus duo Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Then came Schumacher, Hamilton, Bruno Senna of Williams and McLaren’s Jenson Button.

Sauber’s Sergio Perez criticized the driving of Williams’s Pastor Maldonado, who put him out of the race in a crash, two weeks after he did the same to Hamilton at the European Grand Prix.

“He is a very stupid driver,” Perez said. “I don’t know why the stewards don’t take more action against him, he deserves a big penalty. We are risking our lives out there and if they don’t do something he will hurt someone.”

Maldonado was fined 10,000 euros ($12,200) and reprimanded for yesterday’s incident.

Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi was also in trouble yesterday, injuring three of his mechanics after his car sent them tumbling at a pit stop. He was fined 25,000 euros by the stewards.

Alonso leads the drivers’ standings on 129 points, followed by Webber (116), Vettel (100), Hamilton (92) and Raikkonen (83).

“We are a long way away from Red Bull, we will keep working at it and hopefully catch up,” Hamilton said. “I pushed as hard as I could but I didn’t have any speed for some reason. I was in the lead at one point but after that I did not have the pace.”

Red Bull leads the constructors’ event on 216 points, followed by Ferrari (152), Lotus (144) and McLaren (142).

The next event, the 10th in the 20-race season, is the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on July 22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter-Joseph Hegarty at phegarty@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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