British GP - Race: Round 8 of 17
The final scheduled Grand Prix at Silverstone was completely dominated by Sebastian Vettel who recorded his second victory of the season and with the Red Bull Renault team as well as his first dry win of his short Formula One career.
from pole position Vettel made a clean start and simply drove away from the field to establish a 20 second lead ahead of the first round of pitstops. From that point onwards, the German star controlled the pace at the front of the field and took the chequered flag on lap 60 some 15 seconds clear of team-mate Mark Webber.
Vettel’s victory, on a day when championship leader Jenson Button
was unable to challenge the front-runners, sees him close the championship gap to Rubens Barrichello
to just two points and 25 behind Button.
Starting third Mark Webber had been looking to get the jump on front-row starter Barrichello into turn one, but despite the Australian’s best efforts, trailed the Brawn Mercedes into Copse and was then forced to wait until the first round of pit stops to gain the position. By that time however, his team-mate was already 20 seconds up the road and the race for victory was over.
Barrichello pushed hard in the Brawn Mercedes but the car was no match for the dominant Red Bull Renault package at this circuit. The Brazilian veteran held on to take the final step of the podium, but at 26 seconds behind Webber and 41 behind the race winner, it is clear that the RB5 was the car to have this weekend in the cooler Silverstone conditions.
Felipe Massa made best of a long first stint from 11th position on the grid to take the chequered flag in an impressive fourth position, just four seconds behind Barrichello. Massa pitted on lap 23 and when he exited the pit lane he had passed Jarno Trulli
, team-mate Kimi Raikkonen
, Jenson Button
and Kazuki Nakajima. Massa’s second and final stop saw him exit ahead of Nico Rosberg and claim fourth position. Impressive pace when needed from last year’s championship runner-up.
Nico Rosberg will be disappointed to lose a position late in the race, but still finished in fifth position on a day where team-mate Kazuki Nakajima ran as high as fourth only to slip out of the points. Still, Williams move fifth in the constructors’ standings ahead of McLaren Mercedes.
Championship leader Jenson Button
was unable to make progress from sixth position on the grid and slipped down the field from the start. Running eighth ahead of the final stops the British racer picked up two positions following the final service and then rapidly closed the gap to Rosberg but was unable to make the pass for position. Button may be disappointed with the result, but he leaves Silverstone with a healthy 23 point margin over team-mate Barrichello. Jarno Trulli
started fourth in the leading Toyota but lost ground at the start. The Italian finished in seventh position 22 seconds behind Button while holding off Kimi Raikkonen
in the second Ferrari to the flag.
Timo Glock was just out of the points in the second Toyota as he chased Raikkonen to the line and taking the chequer just 0.2 seconds behind the Finn. Right behind Glock was arguably the driver of the day – Vettel aside – as Giancarlo Fisichella
put in a brilliant run in his Force India Mercedes to finish tenth, just two positions and two seconds out of the points.
Following a good start from 16th position on the grid, Fisichella found himself stuck behind Nick Heidfeld
and Fernando Alonso
as they battled for 12th position. As the duo fought for position, both ran wide into Stowe and in one swoop the Italian veteran passed both and quickly pulled a 24 second cushion on the struggling Heidfeld.
After running in fourth position, Kazuki Nakajima lost three positions in his first stop. With a light fuel load on board courtesy of his qualifying tactics, the Japanese racer found himself demoted to seventh and then following his second stop to 11th. The Williams driver did not make any errors, but it proves that the aggressive strategy in qualifying does not always work, especially when looking at the progress made by Massa with his conservative strategy in the leading Ferrari.
Nelson Piquet finished 12th in the leading Renault with team-mate Fernando Alonso
a disappointing 14th after a slow start and then losing time behind Heidfeld. Robert Kubica was 13th between the Renault pair while Heidfeld lost time with a damaged front wing in the first stint and took the flag in 15th.
It was a dismal day for the McLaren Mercedes team. Despite the best efforts of 2008 race winner Lewis Hamilton, the team recorded a 16th position and a failure to finish. Hamilton did battle hard with some terrific wheel to wheel action with former team-mate Alonso. However a spin at Club late in the race dropped him back down the order but the car was never capable of delivering points today.
Adrian Sutil started from the pit lane in the second Force India Mercedes following his qualifying crash yesterday and finished 17th ahead of Sebastien Buemi in the Toro Rosso Ferrari.
The only drivers who failed to finish were Sebastien Bourdais and Heikki Kovalainen who made contact which resulted in their subsequent retirement. Kovalainen has just exited the pits ahead of Hamilton and soon let the champion pass into Stowe. Still of the pace on relatively cold tyres, the Finn saw Bourdais homing in and looking for the position into Club. Kovalainen moved across one time too many under braking and Bourdais made solid contact.
Bourdais pitted for a new front wing while Kovalainen took service to replace the sliced left rear. A few laps later however both pulled in to retire with further damage.
Today however was all about Vettel. Pole position, fastest lap and the race win at the mid-point of the season gives the team and the driver some hope of clawing their way back into the championship fight.
The race was also the final Grand Prix scheduled for Silverstone with the race moving a little way up the M1 to Donington Park should renovations be completed on time to host the 2010 British Grand Prix. It may be the end of an era for Silverstone, but for British fans the overriding issue that there will at least be a round on the race calendar.