Posts Tagged ‘Fernando Alonso’

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.

Vettel is getting used to taste of success

World champion Sebastian Vettel cruised to his sixth win of the season as he rivals all but conceded this year’s title.

Vettel controlled the race from the beginning in a race that failed to match the drama of Canada a fortnight ago.

Home-favourite Fernando Alonso beat Mark Webber to second following a race-long tussle.

Lewis Hamilton took a distant fourth ahead of Felipe Massa and Jenson Button who toiled home in sixth after having been initially held up by the fast-starting Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.

Vettel’s haul of six wins and two seconds means the German has established a 77-point lead over Button and Webber – the equivalent of more than three race victories.

Any thoughts that Vettel was cracking under the pressure after his last-lap error in Canada were quickly quashed as he got a near-perfect start from pole.

Massa made an outstanding getaway from fifth and was challenging Webber for second into Turn Two but was re-passed by Alonso as the Brazilian had to back off when the Red Bull turned in.

 Both McLarens lost places off the start and never looked capable of challenging for the podium. Hamilton slipped from third to fifth by the first corner and could not match the pace of Red Bull or Ferrari and only passed Massa in the pit-stops.

“We just got a bad start and lost out to the Ferraris but in all honesty we weren’t as quick as them,” Hamilton said.

“The team was asking me to stay out longer but I was saying ‘I’m trying to look after my tyres as much as I can’. I was struggling with over-steer the whole time.”

Button fared little better even once he muscled his way past Rosberg into Turn Two on lap six.

The 2009 world champion said after the race he was struggling for balance throughout and lost KERS at half-race distance.

But at the front Vettel’s afternoon was plain sailing as he cruised to his 16th career victory.

“Maybe from the outside it looked like a boring race, but I enjoyed it so much,” Vettel said.

“Of course I had some pressure from Fernando [Alonso] and Mark [Webber] behind and even though I had a gap before the stop, they were still very close.

“I was pushing hard, judging the tyres, trying to imagine what the end of the stint would be like.

“For some reason I enjoy this track. Last year I had a smooth race and again this year, I had a good race.”

Ominously Vettel said: “This track is not made for us [Red Bull] with no real fast corners, but we still managed to put everything together.”

The battle between Webber and Alonso was the only real highlight as front-running action was sparse in the Valencian sun.

The Spaniard stalked Webber for the first third of the Grand Prix before beautifully overtaking the Australian up the inside into Turn Twelve. The Ferrari driver feigned to move left and as Webber defended the racing line, the double-world champion slipped up the inside to take second.

But Alonso’s fantastic move was soon made obsolete as Webber re-took second during the third round of pit-stops as the Australian pitted for fresh rubber on lap 29 – a lap before the Ferrari. On the new tyres Webber’s out-lap was sufficiently fast for him to regain second.

But at the final stops Alonso gained the jump on Webber by staying out longer on an empty track as Webber got caught up behind Rubens Barrichello and Vitaly Petrov.

It was a strong performance by Alonso, who is optimistic that Ferrari can close down Red Bull.

“It was an interesting race for the fans to see the fight with Webber all the way through,” Alonso said.

“At the beginning I was behind him trying not to be too far behind ahead of the first pit-stop. The opportunity came later when I overtook him, under-braking into Turn 12.

“In the pits, they did a good job to overtake us and then my team did a good strategy to get us back in front.

“In the end, I think second place was the maximum we could hope for. We’re definitely moving in the right direction but need to keep working.”

Despite a stronger showing Alonso was pessimistic over his title chances.

“The [title] is not in our calculations,” he said. “If anyone thinks we can win being eight-tenths of a second behind [Red Bull] they don’t understand Formula 1.”

Hamilton was equally downbeat when quizzed about the championship after the race.

“It’s finished really. In the sense of the title it’s almost over,” said Hamilton on Sunday.

“We’ve taken a step back this weekend – or maybe the others have gone forward. I think we’re quite a bit down in downforce.

“We haven’t made an upgrade on that for several weeks, especially rear downforce, and I think that in the next race we may really struggle again,” he said.

“I’m really not looking forward to Silverstone. Ferrari are a lot faster than us and the Red Bulls are on another planet.”

But today Hamilton tweeted: “To all our supporters, ignore what you read in the papers today. My team will never give up and I will never give up.”

He said he could not wait to get back behind the wheel at Silverstone and explained his comments were in no way meant to suggest racing at Silverstone was not something he enjoyed.

Hamilton said that racing on home soil made his desire to win all the greater.

Outside the championship mix it was a mixed afternoon for Mercedes. Rosberg drove solidly to take seventh but Michael Schumacher’s race was ruined as he broke his front-wing when crashing into Petrov after leaving the pits on lap 15.

“I locked the front wheel and slipped into him, which was clearly my mistake,” said Schumacher as he limped home in 17th.

Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari took a second consecutive eighth place finish and said he was confident his drive with the team was not under-threat.

The Spaniard drove immaculately from 18th on the grid and hoped rumours linking Daniel Ricciardo with his seat would finally be put to bed.

“I don’t think my future is under question or that I will be replaced,” the 21-year-old told BBC Sport.

“I don’t care because I want to enjoy the best of Formula 1.

“I do my very best job race after race and I think we can score some points at Silverstone. We had some problems but in life problems exist,” Alguersuari said.

German pair of Adrian Sutil and Nick Heidfeld rounded out the top-ten scoring positions as all 24 starters finished the race.

It is only the fourth time in history where all cars made the distance and the first time since the 2005 American Grand Prix when only six started.

It is also a record for the number of finishers – eclipsing the 23 who completed the Chinese Grand Prix.