Formula 1 News

Webber serves serious notice for title

The Aussie's great victory at Silverstone, put him 13 points behind Fernando Alonso for the championship lead.
Sunday, July 8, 2012

Silverstone, United Kingdom, July 8, 2012 (AFP) - Mark Webber served serious notice that he is a contender to take the drivers' world title this year and should swiftly be rewarded with a new Red Bull contract by winning a dramatic British Grand Prix.

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The 35-year-old Australian posted a near-flawless performance to triumph in an incident-filled race staged in welcome dry conditions ahead of his friend and Ferrari rival Fernando Alonso.

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Webber's Red Bull teammate and defending champion Sebastian Vettel took third.

The race produced thrills and spills throughout all 52 laps including an acrimonious collision when Pastor Maldonado of Williams drove into Sergio Perez's Sauber and a pit-lane accident when Kamui Kobayashi braked late and hit his own mechanics at a pit stop. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.

It was Webber's second Silverstone win in three years, his second victory this year and the ninth of his career, lifting him to 116 points in second place in the drivers' championship, 13 behind leader Alonso who has 129.

Vettel lies third on 100.

Webber's win was witnessed by a capacity Silverstone crowd of 120,000 spectators who had braved torrential rain for most of the weekend.

"It was very interesting for me," he said. "Fernando had good pace from the start, but we had the better strategy in the end. We never gave up, we kept pushing and it did not work out in the end for Fernando."

Webber thanked the Red Bull team for the car and the team-work on his slowing down lap, but team chief Christian Horner was reluctant to be drawn on discussing his plans for next year or to confirm that he would be re-signing him as soon as possible.

Webber's current contract ends this season.

Horner said: "Mark was quick when we needed him to be and the pass was fantastic. Mark this year has been in great form. He is enjoying his driving again and his performance here has been very strong.

"To win just up the road from where he lives is fantastic. Mark is doing great for us, we love having him in the team. We have agreed to sit down in the next couple of weeks (and discuss his future)."

Webber admitted before the race that he had been in touch with other teams - and speculation has suggested he is a strong candidate to partner Alonso at Ferrari next year - but he said it was "not too serious."

By joining Alonso as one of the only two men to have won two races this year, Webber confirmed his competitive potential.

Alonso conceded: "It was very close today but at the end Mark was much quicker than us and deserved the victory. Now we are fighting for victories in the last three or four Grand Prix.

"I hope the fans enjoyed the show today. I'm still leading the championship and that's the main target for us, we lost seven points with Mark winning, but we gained some more points on the rest of the field."

Vettel said: "Mark deserved to win. Thanks for all fans out there - it's been horrible weather for them, not just for us. But today the sun came out and British summer showed its best."

The man whose future at Ferrari is under threat, Massa, finished fourth in the second Ferrari ahead of his former Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and his Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean.

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher of Mercedes finished seventh ahead of home favourite Lewis Hamilton who produced some spectacular racing on his way to eighth for McLaren.

Bruno Senna finished ninth for Williams and Briton Jenson Button was 10th in the second McLaren.

Hamilton did his best to entertain the big crowd, but was unable to finish higher than eighth and remained fourth in the title race.

He said: "We are a long way away from Red Bull. We will keep working at it and hopefully catch up. It was a disappointing day in the sense we wish we could have gone further forward and given more for the fans.

"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.

"We thought we were going to be better but sadly not."

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