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Motor Sports

Webber wins British Grand Prix

Webber celebrates his ninth career victory.

SILVERSTONE, England: Mark Webber claimed the ninth win of his career Sunday when he swept to a dramatic and perfectly judged victory in an incident-filled British Grand Prix. In a race run in welcome, if rare, dry conditions, the 35-year-old Australian steered his Red Bull through 52 laps of complex tactical and strategic racing to overtake pole sitter Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and claim victory at Silverstone.

It was Webber’s second win this year, after triumphing at Monaco, and his second at Silverstone in three years.

“Great day for us and a great day for me,” he said over the team radio.

Webber’s Red Bull teammate and defending double world champion Sebastian Vettel came home third to ensure the champions had two men on the podium.

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

Alonso’s second place sees him stay on top of the drivers’ title race, with 129 points ahead of Webber on 116.

Felipe Massa finished fourth in the second Ferrari ahead of his former Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen and his Lotus colleague Romain Grosjean.

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

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

Alonso made a near-perfect start in the rare dry conditions when the lights went out.

Briton Paul di Resta was the first victim of the conditions and the traffic, when on the opening lap Grosjean collided with him.

Russian Vitaly Petrov had been forced to retire before the start of the race when his Renault engine failed in his Caterham.

Vettel was the first of the leading men to pit after 11 laps when he came in from fifth, rejoining 15th.

One lap later, Massa threw his Ferrari past Schumacher at Stowe in one of many close battles before the German pitted. Pastor Maldonado appeared to have lost control of his car, crashing into the Sauber of luckless Mexican Sergio Perez.

Both cars spun and the resultant damage forced Perez out of the race while Maldonado, frequently involved in collisions with other drivers, steered his damaged Williams back to the pits.

The stewards announced that the incident would be the subject of an investigation after the race.

Perez was livid with his fellow Latin American and said: “He doesn’t respect other drivers. I was already in front and he should have given space not to crash, but he tried to push me all the way.

“I don’t understand why he drives like that and I hope the stewards do something. It is not first time he has damaged my weekend. This guy will never learn if they don’t do something. He could hurt someone. Everybody has concerns about him.”

Alonso pitted after 16 laps and rejoined ahead of Webber, but Hamilton stayed out on his hard tires and inherited the lead, which he fought to retain during a remarkable battle with the Spaniard on lap 19.

First, Alonso passed the Briton, before Hamilton responded to regain the lead, only to be overtaken by the Spaniard again in thrilling fashion.

By lap 21, Alonso led Hamilton, who pitted to allow Webber back into third place.

After rejoining the race Hamilton continued to drive well, as the leading cars pitted again for fresh tires amid a flurry of fluctuating strategic decisions, which also saw Alonso dash in for his set of compulsory soft tires, 14 laps from the finish, after 38 laps.

One lap later Japanese Kamui Kobayashi clattered into his own mechanics when he made a major error as he rushed into the pits.

Alonso, on fast-wearing tires, was left struggling to preserve them in the closing laps as the field closed up and Webber moved within reach of the Spaniard, finally diving past him to take the lead at Brooklands on lap 49.

That set up a thrilling finish with Webber pulling away ahead of Alonso in the final laps.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 09, 2012, on page 14.

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