F1 Silverstone Race Results & Report: Alonso For the Win, Red Bulls Breaks Out Team Orders

What Happens When It Rains, But Not During the Race

10:20am EST — Fernando Alonso took an eventually dominant win at the 2011 British Grand Prix after fighting over position and taking the lead during an uncharacteristically slow stop from Red Bull. Sebastian Vettel could not catch the Spaniard despite his great start and early lead. Mark Webber completed the podium, taking third from an ailing and fuel-saving Lewis Hamilton in the final laps. It was a sometimes chaotic and damp race, with a rainshower before the race began and much of the field starting on intermediate tires.

Webber (1:30.399) started on pole, beating out Vettel to the first position with a quick lap before rain began falling near the end of Q3 during Saturday’s qualifying session. Alonso and Massa made an all-Ferrari second row on the grid, with Button, Button and di Resta an all-British third row. Hamilton struggled with bad timing, managing only tenth fastest as rain slowed the final minutes of qualifying. Schumacher also qualified poorly despite early quick pace in the weekend and will start thirteenth.

Despite particularly rainy conditions throughout the weekend, Red Bull still posted the fastest time in two of the three practice sessions at Silverstone. Webber (1:46.603) led the first and Vettel (1:31.401) the last and only mainly dry session, with Massa (1:49.967) taking control for Friday afternoon’s rain-impeded session. Despite the conditions, only Kobayashi suffered a shunt after losing control on wet kerbing and Astroturf. Though he damaged all four corners of the car, the Sauber team managed to get him out fifteen minutes into the afternoon session, as he was unhurt.

As had happened all weekend, rain began falling before the race began, with Button explaining that half the circuit was wet and the other half bone dry. Perez had a difficult time getting to the grid, going off at Becketts and having to return to the garage for a new nose. Though the rain stopped before the race began, it wrecked havoc with tire choice. In the end, the top ten were on intermediates for the start.

Under cloudy skies, Vettel got a clean start, leading into the first turn from his pole-sitting teammate. Button moved up to fourth passed Massa as Alonso looked frantically for a way around Webber. Hamilton moved up to seventh from his tenth starting position as spray flew through the air. Schumacher also started well, ending the first lap in ninth. Vettel led is teammate by a second, with Alonso, Button, Massa, Hamilton, di resta, Kobayashi, Schumacher, and Maldonado. Massa went back around Button for fourth, leaving Hamilton to pick off his teammate. Vettel continued to gain time on the wet/dry track.

Kovalainen pitted on L3 from twentieth, backing into the Lotus garage with gearbox issues. Mike Gascoyne later explained on Twitter, “Gearbox failure looks to be caused by a electrical problem, nothing to do with the gearbox on heikki’s car.” Meanwhile, Vettel had a four second lead posted in the first four laps. Hamilton had a moment running wide at Brooklands, managing to continue on without losing position. Four positions back, Mercedes informed Schumacher that he would be going to slicks soon, with the German suggesting that it would be three of four more laps until he could switch.

Well down the order, the Toro Rosso drivers pushed their way through on Petrov for fifteenth and sixteenth after qualifying ruined their starting positions. Rosberg also provided excitement, passing Maldonado for eleventh. Perez soon passed the Venezuelan, then began giving Rosberg a hard time. Though McLaren would like Hamilton to save the tires, he crankily informed him that he already was. Schumacher attempted to push through on Kobayashi, slightly losing the rear and hitting the Sauber. It would be investigated by the stewards.

Schumacher was the first to pit for a new nose on L10, from tenth. Vettel had an eight second lead on Webber, who had Alonso all over his gearbox, Massa, Hamilton, button, di Resta, Sutil, Kobayashi, and Rosberg the top ten. On the next lap, half the field rushed into the pits for slick tires after Schumacher posted some quick sectors. The other half stopped on L12. Vettel, however, did not stop until L14. In the melee, Kobayashi almost ran into Maldonado on his exit, running over some Force India equipment on the way. The stewards also investigated that incident. Button and Massa had a good dice for fifth, with the Briton coming out the winner while teammate Hamilton was right on the back of Alonso. By the end of L14, all drivers had stopped for new tires, leaving Vettel leading Webber, Alonso, Hamilton, Button, Massa, di Resta, Sutil, Schumacher, and Rosberg the top ten.

Hamilton slid under Alonso for third at Cobbs, as word came that Schumacher had received a stop-go penalty for causing the collision with Kobayashi (all typical drive-throughs would be stop-go due to the time-saving layout of the pit lane). Meanwhile, Vettel’s lead on Webber was down to a second and a half over Webber, with Hamilton charging off after the Australian. Schumacher served his penalty, rejoining in seventeenth. With twenty laps complete, Vettel led Webber by three seconds, with Hamilton, Alonso, Button, Massa, di Resta, Sutil, Rosberg, and Perez the top ten. Kobayashi received his own stop-go penalty for the unsafe release after a fight with Maldonado, where the Japanese driver came out the victor. He served his penalty and rejoined in eighteenth. Alonso fought behind Hamilton, having a look quite often to take the position, and did so through the DRS zone. Hamilton pitted immediately thereafter.

Things appeared to have settled down at the front while drivers in non-points paying positions were fighting as through they were scrapping over the lead, until the halfway point was marked by second pit stops. Kobayashi retired with a plume of smoke from his overheating engine, after wisps began showing during his stop-go penalty. Webber, Button, and Massa all pitted on L27 as Alonso set the race fast lap. di Resta had a disappointing stop at Force India, as the team had Sutil’s tires set out instead of those for the Scot. His bad day continued in contact with Buemi, who suffered a puncture from the incident.

Vettel and Alonso pitted on L27 from first and second. Alonso beat Vettel out of the pit lane as the German’s left rear would not go onto his Red Bull. Vettel’s stop was so slow that Hamilton also passed pit exit before Vettel exited. At the end of L29, Alonso led Hamilton by two seconds, Vettel, Webber, Button, Massa, Rosberg, Perez, Heidfeld, and Alguersuari as the top ten. On the radio, Vettel’s engineer told him to simply be patient, that “we can still do it” as Alonso is “hard on his tires,” which he isn’t. By the end of L30, Alonso’s lead was up to 3.2s, though Vettel was just seven tenths behind Hamilton.

The sun had begun to shine off the cars, providing a good view of the impending fight between Hamilton and Vettel. In the front, Alonso continued to set race fast laps, pushing his gap to nearly seven seconds by the end of L32, over eight on the next lap. Vettel looked to pass Hamilton at Woodcote, but the Briton managed to block the reigning champion without blocking him against the rules. As the two fought each other, Alonso was able to get farther and farther away.

Vettel was pushing so hard on Hamilton he nearly ran into the back of the McLaren, forcing Vettel to pit for a quick set of new soft tires for the final fifteen laps. Hamilton also pitted on the next lap. Webber was in for new tires on L39, rejoining in fourth after McLaren radioed Button to pit to pass Webber in the pit lane. While Alonso came in on L40, Button did so behind him as well. Alonso’s stop was quick and clean, though Button’s was not. He stopped at the end of the pit lane, with his right front tire wiggling about without a wheel nut. Meanwhile, Massa made just enough of a mistake on old tires for Hamilton to make his way around.

With ten laps to go, Alonso led Vettel by fourteen seconds, with Hamilton (who needed to be saving fuel to actually finish the race), Webber, Massa, Rosberg, Perez, Heidfeld, Schumacher, and Alguersuari the top ten. Hamilton had only three seconds over Webber as the team needed him to begin shortshifting and reducing power. Hamilton proceed to lock up with Webber closing quickly.

Meanwhile, Button was under investigation for an unsafe pit release. After informing Webber of Hamilton’s situation, his engineer also told him to be careful as McLaren might simply be bluffing to force him to waste his tires. Hamilton’s next communication from McLaren reiterated the need to save fuel. Webber went right past Hamilton on the DRS zone, though the Briton attempted to come back at him and barely missed contact. Rob Smedley joined the radio chorus, telling Massa to pick up the pace, eleven seconds behind Hamilton, as there was the difficult fuel situation to consider.

Alonso’s lead was up to almost eighteen seconds with five laps to go, as Webber completed the podium. Massa was catching Hamilton for fourth, but would likely not have the time to actually pass him unless Hamilton’s fuel did run out. Rosberg, Peres, Heidfeld, Schumacher, and Alguersuari completed the top ten. With two laps to go, Webber was just a second behind his teammate and Massa was less than two seconds behind Hamilton. Alonso won the British Grand Prix while Webber has a look on Vettel, but was told to stay “maintain the gap” behind Vettel for the third position. A bit hack, Massa also had a go on Hamilton, but could not manage to take fourth from the Briton as Hamilton forced Massa wide at the line.

Final Positions, 2011 British Grand Prix:

Driver Team Gap
1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +16.5
3. Mark Webber Red Bull +16.9
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren +28.9
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari +29.0
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP +60.6
7. Sergio Perez Sauber +65.5
8. Nick Heidfeld Renault +75.5
9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP +77.9
10. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso +79.1
11. Adrian Sutil Force India +79.7
12. Vitaly Petrov Renault +80.6
13. Rubens Barrichello Williams +1 Lap
14. Pastor Maldonado Williams +1 Lap
15. Paul di Resta Force India +1 Lap
16. Timo Glock Virgin Racing +2 Laps
17. Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin Racing +2 Laps
18. Tonio Liuzzi HRT +2 Laps
19. Daniel Ricciardo HRT +3 Laps
Jenson Button McLaren +13 Laps
Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso +27 Laps
Kamui Kobayashi Sauber +29 Laps
Jarno Trulli Lotus +42 Laps
Heikki Kovalainen Lotus +50 Laps

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