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Webber Wins A Dry British GP

Webber—Silverstone 2012

Mark Webber pulled it all together in the closing laps of the British GP at Silverstone — run in the sunshine after days of torrential rains — to overtake Fernando Alonso and capture the victory, moving the Australian to within 13 points of the World Championship leader. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel finished 3rd, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa 4th and Lotus F1’s Kimi Raikkonen 5th.

British fans are known to be both knowledgeable and fair in their appreciation of great driving, no matter who is behind the wheel but for Webber, pictured, their response was heartfelt too. They remember his gutsy riposte after his victory in 2010 when feeling he was secondary to Sebastian Vettel in Red Bull’s priorities. “Not bad for a number two driver,” he said.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Mark Webber drives off with fans’ hearts at F1 British Grand Prix” was written by Giles Richards at Silverstone, for The Guardian on Sunday 8th July 2012 16.14 America/New_York

For the fans at Silverstone there was to be no fairytale victory for a British driver as reward for a weekend of rain but they were presented with the next best thing. Mark Webber’s win was vocally welcomed and whole-heartedly appreciated.

He is a fiercely proud Australian but held in wide affection by British motor racing enthusiasts for whom he is as close as it comes to being an honorary Briton. After all, if our chaps could not do it, why not the no-nonsense Aussie, who at least has chosen to live here?

Webber likes Silverstone. He won his first race here in Formula Ford and has not missed a podium spot in the past four years, including victory in 2010. The fans, in turn, like Webber, as shown by the roar of approval the Red Bull driver received when taking the lead going wheel to wheel with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso through Brooklands.

British fans are known to be both knowledgeable and fair in their appreciation of great driving, no matter who is behind the wheel but for Webber, pictured, their response was heartfelt too. They remember his gutsy riposte after his victory in 2010 when feeling he was secondary to Sebastian Vettel in Red Bull’s priorities. “Not bad for a number two driver,” he said.

Moreover there were the team orders at this race last year, when he was told to back off while chasing down Vettel for second place. No one likes being denied a fair fight and a measure of justice was done on Sunday. What is more, everyone enjoyed it.

Webber was certainly happy to acknowledge that he holds the British Grand Prix in special regard. “Like Fernando in Barcelona, there is that extra little bit that makes you a little bit more relaxed and a bit more comfortable. You try to replicate it at every single grand prix but, with all due respect, it’s not the same at Hockenheim. I love racing everywhere but here it’s extra special. As I say, I won my first race here in 1996 in Formula Ford, so the love affair continues.”

An affection for driving Formula One cars on the circuit continued after his debut for Minardi in 2002. The 35-year-old moved to Jaguar and then Williams, before joining Red Bull in 2007. The team are based at nearby Milton Keynes but Webber chose to take up residence even closer to Silverstone. He set up home only half an hour away in the Buckinghamshire countryside which, the Melbourne race aside, pretty much makes the British Grand Prix a home race – much more so than for the drivers who have long since departed for Monaco.

It also means he can begin and end the day in his own home, which clearly makes a difference for a driver who, amid the glitter of F1, remains down to earth. “This morning I took the dogs for a run,” he said. “The good thing about going home to them is that they don’t know if I’ve had a bad day or a good day, they’re always happy to see me.”

There is also fire in his belly and, although not alone in his determination, as Lewis Hamilton’s bloody-minded refusal to take a pass by Alonso on lap 18 proved, Webber has the maturity to control his racer’s instinct as he displayed at Brooklands.

On the opportunity to take the win he said: “I was very keen to grab it with both hands. I had a single opportunity to pounce and I wasn’t going to let that slip.” He and Alonso had been wheel to wheel in a breathtaking moment at Eau Rouge in Spa last year and there was no quarter here.

“It was obvious that he [Alonso] was pushing as hard as possible but the balance wasn’t with him. That’s when you’ve got to smell the blood and you’ve got to go for it,” Webber said.

The victory puts him 13 points behind Alonso in the championship standings, more importantly it puts him 16 points ahead of Vettel. Yet he remains on only a one-year contract with Red Bull and rumours of a move to Ferrari abound. The team principal, Christian Horner, after a drive that he described as “excellent, inch perfect”, was keen to suggest it would be resolved soon.

“Inevitably there is an awful lot of speculation surrounding Ferrari but we are focused on ourselves. Mark feels comfortable in the team and over the next few weeks we will sit down and talk about the future.”

Webber said, in the light, self-deprecating style that is part of his charm and one of the reasons why he slips so snugly under the skin of the British racing public, that he was “pushing to get a contract for next year, got a few points, a couple of wins and I will work very hard to try and stay in Formula One”.

The fans at Silverstone will be pleased to have him back.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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