F1 Silverstone Results & Full Race Report: Webber Wins, but the SC is the Story [and Vettel’s return]

What Happens When the SC Strikes Again

9:38am EST — Mark Webber led the 2010 British Grand Prix from lights out, where he beat teammate and polesitter Sebastian Vettel to the lead into Turn 1, to checkered flag, not even relinquishing the lead during his required pit stop.  Lewis Hamilton finished second at his home grand prix, with Nico Rosberg finishing off the podium.  Jenson Button, who qualified a horrid fourteenth, made good use of a safety car period for debris on the track to finish fourth.  Rubens Barrichello quietly showed Williams’ continued pace in fifth, while Kamui Kobayashi gave Sauber another run at the points in sixth, with the SC benefiting Vettel with a seventh place finish after the German ran wide and off at the start, dropping to dead last.  Adrian Sutil, Michael Schumacher, and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten.  One man particularly displeased by the SC period was Fernando Alonso, who spent much of the race in the top five, only to be given a drive-through penalty as the SC was deployed to clean debris from an incident between Sutil and Pedro de la Rosa, thereby dropping back and finishing only fourteenth.

Sebastian Vettel won another pole during Saturday qualifying, with Mark Webber to start second in a Red Bull front row for the British Grand Prix.  Controversy abounded after Red Bull allowed that they had taken the new aero package front wing off of Webber’s car and put it on Vettel’s, as Vettel’s had worked loose in the Saturday morning practice and been damaged.  There was no spare.  Fernando Alonso led the charge of the other teams to qualify third, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg rounding out the top five.  Felipe Massa only barely outqualifed countryman Rubens Barrichello, who continued the Williams’ resurgence, qualifying seventh.  Meanwhile, Pedro de la Rosa also managed a coup, making Q3 in his Sauber and beating out Michael Schumacher to ninth position.  It was disaster, with little knowledge of why, for Briton Jenson Button who did not make it out of Q2, qualifying fourteenth.  Tonio Liuzzi suffered a five-place grid penalty for impeding Hulkenberg during qualifying, and will start twentieth.

There were also addendum to the Safety Car rules by the FIA overnight, as they worked to keep things fair after the debacle and confusion that marked the SC period two weeks ago in Valencia.  According to an Autosport article, the FIA announced that, “An assessment will…be made to determine when the safety car should join the track in order to try and ensure that no drivers will be unnecessarily disadvantaged. In all cases we will attempt to pick up the leader.”

The top ten started on the soft tire compound they qualified with, while eleventh place Sutil and back were mainly using the harder tire.  Before the lights, the Red Bull team noted on Twitter, “Right, heads down and play nicely….”  Webber led into Turn1, having taken the lead from Vettel, with Hamilton second and Kubica third.  Vettel ran off into Turn 1 and wide at Maggots, losing position and telling the team he had a right rear puncture, while Webber attempted to fend off Hamilton’s charge for the lead at his home grand prix and Massa had overtaken Alonso, who made a terrible start.  However, Massa was forced to pit his first time back around to the pit lane with his own right rear issue, caused by running into his slow-starting teammate, which dropped him to the back of the field.  Vettel also pitted, both drivers performing their regulatory switch to the harder compound.  Meanwhile, Button had moved up six positions from fourteenth to eighth.  At the end of L3, it was Webber, Hamilton, Kubica, Rosberg, Alonso, Barrichello, Schumacher, Button, Kobayashi, and Sutil as the top ten.

Webber was valiantly pulling away from Hamilton at the front, looking for a gap for the stop, and managing nearly a second and a half of gap by L4, and fastest laps in successive laps.  A bit further back, Kubica was holding off Rosberg for the final podium position, with Alonso just another half second behind in fifth.  Ferrari, either cheekily or preposterously, tweeted that, “Webber and Hamilton are flying away while kubica is holding up Rosberg and Alonso.”  Kubica’s lap time was a second and a half slower than Hamilton, while Rosberg and Alonso were two to four tenths slower than the Pole.  Replays then showed that Hamilton may have contributed to Vettel’s puncture, touching the German’s right rear with his front wing.  At the very end, Massa had overtaken Sakon Yamamoto, in for Bruno Senna just this weekend at HRT due to, most likely, the team’s money troubles, while Vettel remained dead last, lapping a half second off his leading teammate.  Massa then took Chandhok and di Grassi, before di Grassi pitted on L10.

While the top ten remained the same, barring extra pressure from Kobayashi, who had moved up to ninth past Sutil, on Button for eighth, Liuzzi was working to fix his grid position penalty by passing Trulli for sixteenth.  di Grassi remained in the garage, with the engine off [see picture from the team here] and his computer indicating a retirement.  Schumacher began the pit stop dash, stopping from tenth on L12.  Alonso, Barrichello, and Kobayashi also came in and also switched to the harder tire, with Kobayashi managing to jump Schumacher for position in the pits.  Kubica and de la Rosa were the next in, with the order well shaken up until the rest of the top ten pitted.  Alonso had a bit of an excursion at Copse, a la Vettel, but he did not seem to have any damage nor lost position.

With only those classified as tenth or further back having pitted, the top five were Webber, Hamilton, Rosberg, Button, and Sutil fifteen laps into the fifty-two lap race.  Rosberg was the first of the next group in, with Sutil and Petrov following.  Hamilton pitted the next lap, remaining in second, with a gap to as yet unstopped teammate Button in third.  Webber still led and had yet to stop, with Button, Hulkenberg, and Alguersuari third through fifth and yet to stop.  Kubica was the next driver who had stopped, coming under fire from Alonso, who passed him but ran off the track and kept the position.  Webber, when he pitted on L17, had enough of a gap that he retained the lead through his stop.  Removing those who had not stopped (Button, Hulkenberg, and Alguersuari, who Rosberg had passed), the top five after the stops looked to be Webber, Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso, and Kubica.  Alonso also passed countryman Alguersuari, and Kubica slowed and pitted, to be pushed into the garage with what was later said to be a differential problem.  The classified top ten at L20 were Webber, Hamilton, Button, Hulkenberg, Rosberg, Alonso, Alguersuari, Barrichello, Kobayashi, and Schumacher, with the same three yet to pit.

Webber was up to a nearly four second lead over Hamilton, lapping about seven tenths faster at this point.  Button finally pitted on L22 as did Yamamoto in his first Formula1 race stop.  Button returned to the circuit in sixth, ahead of Alguersuari, who still had not stopped.  At the back, Vettel had managed to remain in front of the HRT drivers, lapping 1.1s slower than Webber and at about the pace of Rosberg, who had a piece of bodywork fly off his car, in fourth.  Kovalainen’s stop and retirements had moved Vettel up to nineteenth, and a pass on Glock to eighteenth.  Sutil and de la Rosa made contact while fighting for eleventh, with de la Rosa coming out the worse for wear with a piece of rear wing having come off.  He pitted for a change, with Hulkenberg finally making his stop soon after.  That left the top five as Webber, Hamtilon, Rosberg, Alonso, and Button, but for a drive-through penalty for the Spaniard.  He had cut a corner while overtaking Kubica earlier.

However, before he could serve it, the safety car was deployed on L28, leaving even the teams wondering why, though possibly to clear the debris from the Sutil/de la Rosa contact.  According to Ferrari, “Fernando has to serve the penalty only after the track is back green.”  The SC took away the multiple second lead Webber had over Hamtilon, but also the very large (20+ second) gap from Hamilton to Rosberg and Alonso.  Again, a SC deployment will cause a ruckus at Ferrari, with no ability to make a gap and to make use of the gap back while serving his penalty.  After the SC returned, Alonso served his penalty, while Hamilton looked for a way around Webber.  A pass was not to happen, at least for that lap.

With twenty laps left, Webber led Hamilton, Rosberg, Button, Barrichello, Kobayashi, Schumacher, Sutil, Hulkenberg, and Petrov as the top ten.  Alonso had dropped to sixteenth, while his teammate Massa had moved up to thirteenth (with Vettel just behind) after his own early stop with a puncture.  Webber continued to set race fast laps, dropping under 1:34s for the first time while gapping Hamilton.  Meanwhile, Sutil took seventh from Schumacher at Brooklands, with another pass by Sutil including contact, this time the small piece of bodywork Sutil’s loss.  Alonso was attempting to storm forward to his lost positions, but had run into a roadblock called Sebastien Buemi.  He did make it past at Village.  With a handy SC period bunching up the field, more fighting for position was underway for the final fifteen laps.

Button was looking for a way around Rosberg for third; Sutil and Kobayashi were close together and behind Barrichello for fifth; Hulkenberg, Vettel, and Petrov were bunch up looking for a way around Schumacher, as Vettel had overtaken Petrov when he ran wide at Abbey and joined the points again; and Alonso was desperately trying to get past Liuzzi for fourteenth.  Webber’s gap on Hamilton was growing and back up to nearly five seconds while the two frontrunners had breathing room of nearly twelve seconds over Rosberg.  Vettel’s charge was moving him forward and around Hulkenberg for ninth.  Massa pitted on L40 for a very slow and seemingly unscheduled stop.  According to the team, “Felipe suddenly came into the pits…He had spun just before the pit entry and decided to come in.”  Petrov also came in, leaving Alonso in thirteenth, while the team noted on Twitter, “You can just say one thing: if a penalty must be punishing it must be always like this… ”

Ten laps to go and the top ten were Webber, Hamilton, Rosberg, Button, Barrichello, Kobayashi, Sutil, Vettel, Schumacher, and Hulkenberg.  Button was about a second behind Rosberg, with Kobayashi, Sutil, and Vettel close together and close behind Barichello.  Well back in sixteenth and on fresh tires, Massa set the race fastest lap on L42, but Webber wasn’t giving it up, going faster and up to a 5.3s lead on Hamilton.  Alguersuari spun off and got stuck in the gravel, causing a local yellow while his car was cleared and ending his race.  Meanwhile, Vettel and Alonso were looking for any way possible past Sutil and Liuzzi for position, but the Force Indias proved to be very difficult to overtake.  Sutil had even dropped back from the chase for Barrichello’s fifth position to defend from Vettel.  Alonso was forced to drop back for clean air after going off at Copse and continuing on, chasing the Italian.  Alonso pitted on L50, going to the softer tire after having touched Liuzzi while attempting to pass.

Webber still led Hamilton, Rosberg, Button, and Barrichello, who had all spread out for the final couple of laps, while Vettel ran wide while trying to pass Sutil.  Massa again went for the race fastest lap, showing the Ferrari ability when not caught out by strategy or bad luck.  On the final lap, Vettel did manage to pass Sutil, as Alonso sets race fastest lap.  Webber kept the lead as he had never relinquished it through the race, with Hamilton in second and Rosberg on the podium for Mercedes.  Barrichello quietly showed Williams’ continued pace in fifth, while Kobayashi gave Sauber another run at the points in sixth, with the SC benefiting Vettel with a seventh place finish.

Results for the 2010 British Grand Prix:
1. Webber
2. Hamilton +1.3
3. Rosberg +21.3
4. Button +21.0
5. Barrichello +31.4
6. Kobayashi +32.1
7. Vettel +36.7
8. Sutil +40.9
9. Schumacher +41.5
10. Hulkenberg +42.0
11. Liuzzi +42.4
12. Buemi +47.6
13. Petrov +59.3
14. Alonso +62.3
15. Massa +67.4
16. Trulli +1 Lap
17. Kovalainen +1 Lap
18. Glock +2 Laps
19. Chandhok +2 Laps
20. Yamamoto +2 Laps
de la Rosa
di Grassi

[author’s note: apologies for any issues with detail and overtaking in the race report. Unfortunately, we in the States don’t have live coverage for a few races in the summer, so I’m using timing and scoring, Twitter, and other means to write the report so you all can get it live and before the press conference. Normal service will resume once we get live coverage back. For more information on the American F1 coverage, see this Op-Ed about said illogical coverage.]


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