Mark Webber took his second win of 2012 by snatching victory from Fernando Alonso in the British Grand Prix.
Alonso was in front of the Australian for all but the final four laps of today’s race at Silverstone, but ailing tyres prevented him from taking victory.
Sebastian Vettel finished third ahead of Felipe Massa, whilst Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean came home fifth and sixth for Lotus.
It was a bad day for the Brits though: Lewis Hamilton finished eighth, the same position in which he started, Jenson Button picked up one point by finishing tenth, and Paul di Resta‘s afternoon lasted just one lap before a puncture brought his home race to a premature end.
In stark contrast to yesterday, the sun was shining on a bone-dry track at Silverstone as the race got underway. Twenty-three cars lined up in front of the Wing at the start of the race – Vitaly Petrov‘s Caterham broke down on the way to the grid – and there was no evidence of an agreement between the teams as to which dry Pirelli tyre was the best to use for the first stint. Alonso went for the harder tyres; Webber, alongside the Spaniard on the front row, chose the softer compound.
When the lights went out, Fernando Alonso dived right off the line, almost collecting second-place man Mark Webber on his way across the track, but kept his lead. Michael Schumacher held on to third place, but Felipe Massa got past Sebastian Vettel to get up into fourth.
Lewis Hamilton remained in his starting position of eighth, but Jenson Button made his way from sixteenth to thirteenth on the first lap.
Things did not go well for the third Brit – Paul di Resta – who went off-track on the first lap with a puncture and had to hobble back around to the pits. The Scot was back into the pits again at the end of Lap 3, and that time it was terminal.
In the early stages of the race, the first on-track battle to develop was between Schumacher and Massa, in third and fourth. A train was beginning to form behind Schumacher who, by the end of Lap 8, was over six seconds behind leader Alonso. Despite clearly having the fastest car though, Massa was unable to find a way past his former team-mate.
Sebastian Vettel was the first driver to come into the pits to switch a set of soft tyres for the harder compound at the end of Lap 11. He came out onto the circuit in relatively clear air, and was no longer stuck in the queue forming behind Schumacher.
Massa finally made his way past Schumacher soon after Vettel’s pit stop. Schumacher pitted at the end of that lap 12.
Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Perez pitted together during this pit stop window, and came back out on track together. Maldonado lost control of his Williams while Perez was trying to find a way past, and both of them came off track. Perez was stuck in his Sauber at the side of the road, and Maldonado had to return to the pits. This incident will be investigated after the race.
Vettel’s early pit stop paid off, for when Massa stopped, he fell behind the German. Mark Webber, also concerned about the charging Vettel, pitted at the end of Lap 14.
Race leader Alonso made his first stop one lap later. He chose to stay on the harder tyre, and re-emerged ahead of Webber. Lewis Hamilton, who was yet to make his first stop, inherited the race lead temporarily.
Alonso caught Hamilton on Lap 19, and made his way past. Hamilton fought back, much to the delight of the fans, but ultimately could not hold the Spaniard behind him.
Hamilton made his stop at the end of Lap 21. It was a good 2.8-second stop from his McLaren pit crew, and he re-emerged in seventh behind Kimi Raikkonen, who was on the tail of Michael Schumacher.
Raikkonen got past Schumacher on Lap 24, giving Hamilton a new target. Within a few corners, Hamilton was up to sixth, having got past the seven-time world champion.
At the end of Lap 25, Alonso had a 5.4 second lead over Webber, who was a further 3.4 seconds ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Massa was fourth, ahead of former team-mate Raikkonen, and Hamilton was sitting in sixth. Button was still lapping in twelfth place.
Hamilton came back in to the pits at the end of Lap 28 to switch back to the harder tyre, which was clearly the best compound to be on. He re-emerged in twelfth place behind Nico Rosberg, and had no more stops to make.
Hamilton quickly dispatched Rosberg and Romain Grosjean, who needed a pit stop for a new front wing early on in the race and was now running out of position, followed the Brit through. Next up for Hamilton was Jenson Button, who let him through at Copse. Again, Grosjean followed Hamilton past. Grosjean had a fast car underneath him, as demonstrated when he got past Hamilton on Lap 35.
Sebastian Vettel came in for his second stop of the afternoon at the end of Lap 31, pitting from third place. Mark Webber was in a couple of laps later to cover his Red Bull team-mate. He emerged comfortably ahead of Vettel.
Alonso pitted at the end of Lap 37 to comfortably retain his lead over Webber. The only worry that his Ferrari team had in the closing stages was whether or not the soft tyres on Alonso’s car would last until the end of the race.
Meanwhile, in the pits, Kamui Kobayashi had a shocking second stop when he managed to run into some of his pit crew. Luckily, none of them seemed to be seriously injured.
Alonso began to struggle on his soft tyres just seven or eight laps after making his final stop. By Lap 45, Webber was half-a-second behind the race leader, and a change of lead looked inevitable.
On Lap 48, Webber made the move on Alonso, and took the lead of the British Grand Prix.