German GP - Race: Round 9 of 17
Mark Webber overcame a questionable drive through penalty in a thrilling German Grand Prix to record his first victory by some margin from Red Bull Renault team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Significantly, the Milton Keynes-based team secured their
second straight one-two result as rivals Brawn Mercedes continue to struggle at this critical mid-season point.
It was not a straightforward victory for Webber however as the start saw fellow front-row starter Rubens Barrichello
pull alongside the Red Bull on the run to turn one. Webber moved to his right and light contact was made. It was a racing incident but a few laps later the team were informed that Webber, running second at the time to Barrichello, must take a drive through penalty for his actions.
A little good fortune would come to his aid however as Barrichello made his stop and found himself stuck behind Felipe Massa who was running a long first stint and therefore relatively heavy on fuel. This allowed Webber to lap quickly at the front of the field ahead of his own first stop for fuel and fresh rubber.
Webber’s impressive pace allowed him to exit the pits close behind Barrichello and ahead of Button and when it became apparent that the Brawn Mercedes team were three-stopping both drivers, Webber knew the race was his for the taking.
“It’s an incredible day,” Webber stated. “I wanted to win so badly after Silverstone, as I thought I had a good chance there, then after yesterday’s pole I knew I was in a good position to try and win the race today.
“It was a difficult winter, Sebastian showed in winter testing what the car could do, so that kept my motivation very high when I was hurting a lot with all the rehab,” he continued with reference to his cycling accident that left him with a badly broken leg ahead of the season. “I had great people around me to recover from all the injuries I had and the team have been incredibly patient with me as well.
“It’s just an incredible day for all the people who have helped me get to where I am today.”
While Webber celebrates his well deserved first victory, team-mate Sebastian Vettel took second position having recovered from a poor start. The one-two result moves the British Grand Prix winner second in the championship with Webber now up to third. Barrichello drops to fourth position while Button’s advantage at the head of the field is trimmed down to a still considerable 21 points with eight rounds remaining.
Felipe Massa finished third in his Ferrari after another canny tactical drive with a long first stint. The Brazilian finished six seconds behind Vettel and five seconds ahead of Nico Rosberg who made best of a fast start and strategy after a poor qualifying run to secure points for Williams Toyota once again, gaining no less than 11 positions during the race. Jenson Button
vaulted Barrichello in the final round of stops to finish in fifth position with his Brawn team-mate taking the chequered flag less than a second behind. However it is clear that the team's early season performance advantage has been eroded and now surpassed by the Red Bull team.
The BGP 001 did not have particularly good race pace despite the rather odd three stop strategy and the team will be looking ahead to the scheduled aerodynamic enhancements that should come on stream for the next Grand Prix in Hungary. Brawn still lead the constructors’ championship but the gap to Red Bull has now been trimmed down to 19.5 points and the latter now has momentum on their side.
To make matter worse, Barrichello is clearly unhappy with the team’s performance and made his feeling clearly known to the media and general public with a surprising post-race outburst.Fernando Alonso
spun his R29 on the parade lap as he tried to warm the tyres but started 12th as planned and finished seventh in his Renault after a low-key start to the race followed by a very impressive second and third stint. The double world champion chased and hounded the Brawn pair over the final laps but could not find a way to pass. Team-mate Nelson Piquet finished 13th.
Heikki Kovalainen took the final point on what was a disappointing day for the McLaren Mercedes team. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton made a very fast start from fifth position on the grid and looked to be challenging for the lead into the first turn. Sadly for the defending champion, his eagerness to make up ground from the outset saw his McLaren clip Webber’s Red Bull, puncturing the right rear tyre in the process.
Hamilton subsequently pitted for a fresh set of tyres and then ran at the back of the field to the chequered flag. Kovalainen meanwhile had also made a good start and ran as high as third in the opening stint. However his MP4-24, which does not feature all of the updates enjoyed by Hamilton this weekend, was off the pace of the front runners and the Finn would slip down the order as the race progressed.
Kovalainen was forced to fight very hard for the final point and to his credit, made no mistakes to take the chequered flag ahead of Toyota racer Timo Glock who had started the race from the pitlane. Nick Heidfeld
finished tenth in the leading BMW Sauber with team-mate Robert Kubica back in 14th while Giancarlo Fisichella
ran well in his Force India Mercedes to finish 11th. While the Silverstone-based team will be happy with Fisichella’s performance, they will be most disappointed to see Sutil well out of the top ten after a terrific drive.
Sutil started seventh after a great run in the mixed qualifying conditions and ran as high as second in the race during the pitstops. Battling with Kimi Raikkonen
over sixth position, Vettel exited the pits and ran side-by-side with the 2007 champion into the first turn. Contact was made and it was Sutil who lost his front wing and with it any hopes of securing the team their first points of the season. The German finished a disappointed 15th.
Kazuki Nakajima’s point-less season continues with Williams Toyota as he finished 12th following a trip through the gravel trap on lap one and then losing a position to Fisichella on the very final lap of the race. Sebastien Buemi was 16th in the surviving Toro Rosso behind Nakajima, Piquet and Sutil while an early stop for a new front wing saw Jarno Trulli
just 17th ahead of Hamilton at the chequered flag in the second Toyota
. Kimi Raikkonen
looked set for points this afternoon before his F60 lost power and he was forced to retire while Sebastien Bourdais also failed to go the distance in the second Toro Rosso Ferrari due to hydraulics failure. The Frenchman may deny it, but the body language and exchange on the pit wall seemed to confirm that it was indeed his last Grand Prix for the team.
After the weeks of politics and infighting, Formula One fans were finally treated to a great race this afternoon and a very worth winner...