Ferrari celebrate their first win since Korea in October last year

Fernando Alonso claimed his 27th career victory at a wet Silverstone to surpass Jackie Stewart in the all-time standings.

The Ferrari driver drove flawlessly as the track dried to head home Vettel and Webber – who ignored team orders to hold station behind the championship leader. The German looked set for a seventh win this season until he relinquished the lead following another Red Bull pitstop blunder.

Lewis Hamilton bravely held onto fourth from Felipe Massa after a titanic battle between the two saw the Brazilian pass the McLaren at the penultimate corner only for Hamilton to muscle his way back in front.

The race started in bizarre circumstances. A pre-race shower had soaked the second half of the track but the first half was bone-dry leading to all drivers using intermediate tyres.

Vettel surged in front at the first corner after pole-sitter Webber got bogged down.

Hamilton surged up from tent to sixth on the first lap before overtaking team-mate Jenson Button and Massa in quick succession. And on lap 15, soon after pitting for dry tyres, he expertly passed Alonso on the wet inside line into Copse.

Whilst the track was wet the Red Bulls dominated opening up a ten-second gap back to the chasing pack but when the drier line appeared Alonso became the quickest man on the track.

Alonso started to pump in fastest laps, closing on Hamilton and re-passing him on lap 24, and then on the Red Bulls.

He and Vettel came in on the same lap, 27, for their penultimate stops, and a delay fitting the left-rear wheel to the Red Bull enabled Alonso to pass Vettel in the pits and take the lead.

The mistake left Vettel third and chasing Hamilton but he could not find a way past despite stalking him for several laps.

Instead the team switched strategy and brought the world champion in a lap early and it proved crucial in allowing him to jump the Englishman.

Hamilton was still on course for third until he received a radio message telling him that fuel levels were critical and told him to slow down and it allowed Webber to snatch the final podium spot.

The Australian immediately set after Vettel and with three laps left was right behind the German. Despite orders from team boss Christian Horner to “maintain the gap”, Webber tried in vain to pass.

When asked about the incident, the Australian was unequivocal. He said: “I’m not fine with it, no. [If] Fernando retires on the last lap, we’re battling for victory.

“Of course I ignored the team and I was battling to the end. I was trying to do my best with the amount of conversation on the radio.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said he understood Webber’s frustration but added: “We cannot give away a load of points. We did not want to see our drivers in the fence at some time in the last two laps, which is how it would have ended up.

“Mark is not out of the championship race but we could not afford to risk losing points. Mark should be fine with that, he is a team player. Second and third is a very strong result.”

The team orders mean that Vettel increased his championship lead to 80 points with Webber his nearest challenger.

But he was wary of Ferrari’s new threat. He said: “I think you have to accept fair and square Ferrari beat us today.

“There has been a bit of a trend over the last couple of races, they have been very strong on race days, so it shows us we need to keep pushing and improving the car.”

Alonso though was cautious about his title prospects: “There are not championship thoughts because we know the gap is massive.”

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg was sixth, from Sauber’s Sergio Perez, Renault’s Nick Heidfeld, Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher and Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari.

It was a disappointing day for home-favourite Button who had to retire on lap 39 after a wheel fell off following a pitstop. The right-front wheel nut was not in place before he was released and the McLaren driver ground to a halt at the end pf the pitlane.

Button said: “It is very disappointing. In front of my home crowd, I was enjoying the race, my pace was good.

“The guy on the front right lost a wheel nut and he went to get another one but as he turned I think the lollipop man thought we were good to go.

“I’m sorry for the fans that we couldn’t do more. This seems to be the way of it at British Grands Prix for me, but I’ll try again next year.”

McLaren and Sauber were fined by motorsport’s governing body the FIA following the race, both found guilty of unsafe pit-stop releases.

McLaren were fined 5,000 euros (£4,433) for the problem with Button’s car, while Sauber were fined 20,000 euros (£17,773) after the team released Kamui Kobayashi into the path of Williams’ Pastor Maldonado.


Paul di Resta excelled once again to take sixth

Red Bull’s Saturday qualifying domination continued with Mark Webber edging out team-mate Sebastian Vettel at Silverstone but the result was overshadowed by the row over diffuser use.

Despite regulations only being decided upon minutes before the qualifying session began, the Red Bull’s still managed to monopolise the front row.

It is only the second time in nine races that Vettel has not found himself on pole but the German will still be confident of a good result.

The Red Bulls nearest challenge seems set to come from Ferrari with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa on row two and the Spaniard was just a tenth behind the Australian pacesetter.

The Scuderia seem to have made up a lot of ground on Red Bull with many feeling they are chief beneficiaries of the new rules.

But Webber thinks it is still too early to tell: “Normally on tracks like this we’d be further down the road,” he said.

“There might be a bit of a form card starting to build, but we need some more races to see if that is the case.”

McLaren though looked to be badly affected however with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton managing just fifth and tenth respectively in front of their home ground.

“We did not put on a competitive showing in qualifying,” said the McLaren team boss, Martin Whitmarsh. “Our car is not quick enough and that’s how it is.

“But we are not going to give up on Sunday. We are going to try and win races. We are not giving up on the championship.”

Force India’s Paul di Resta, Pastor Maldonado and Kamui Kobayashi continued to impress with sixth, sevnth and eighth ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg who’s best lap was ruined by rain.

Ricciardo will move from his Toro Rosso test driver role

Daniel Ricciardo is set to replace Narain Karthikeyan at Hispania for the rest of the season.

Reuteurs and the Australian herald Sun are reporting that the talented Australian will line up at Silverstone next weekend to partner Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Ricciardo is part of the Red Bull driver programme and has been a test driver with sister team Toro Rosso this season.  But impressive recent performances by Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari have prevented the youngster from getting a race seat.

Ricciardo, who turns 22 on Friday, has taken part in Friday practice for Toro Rosso this season and has been tipped to get a full race drive with that Red Bull-owned team next year, if countryman Mark Webber chooses to leave.

“I had to pinch myself a couple of times to be sure that it’s real. Now I’m excited and can hardly wait to drive at Silverstone,” added Ricciardo.

“It’s a new challenge, a new experience, a new team, but I’m ready and will give of my best in any event.”

Hispania team chairman Jose Ramon Carabante is hopeful the loan is “just the start of a fruitful relationship” with Red Bull.

“This agreement is a reward for all the hard work Hispania Racing has shown since we started in F1 last year,” said Carabante.

“We’re proud the F1 world champion team has trusted us in their effort of developing their drivers.”

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said in May that Ricciardo was learning with each race he attended and indicated that he would offer him a seat for next season.

“He should learn the team, all the race tracks, to work together with the engineers, get a little bit of knowledge about the press work, about the marketing and this should be the preparation for him to race for Toro Rosso in 2012,” he said.

But the upturn in form of Toro Rosso – who currently sit seventh in the championship – has forced Ricciardo to look elsewhere.

Although the deal is said to be for the rest of the season it is widely believed that Karthikeyan will regain his seat for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in October.