Alonso leads Ferrari to first Pirelli victory
Varied weather and a drying Silverstone track meant a challenging race for drivers at the British Grand Prix, not least from a tyre point of view. Pirelli’s PZero Blue Intermediate compound was tested at the beginning of the race with every driver starting on the tyre, and Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented that the manufacturer was impressed with its competitiveness for “about 12 laps” given that areas of the track were dry and very wet while it was in use. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso claimed his – and his team’s – first win with Pirelli tyres and of the season, overcoming mixed conditions and prolonged pressure from his Red Bull adversaries, who took the second and third steps of the podium.
Hembery said: “Congratulations to Ferrari and Fernando Alonso on a fantastic race, 60 years after our first win with Ferrari at Silverstone. We’ve seen some incredible driving and some great manoeuvres. At the start of the race the PZero Blue Intermediate tyre proved to be competitive on a very varied wet and dry track for about 12 laps, which was a very impressive performance. We saw a combination of two and three pit stops per car, which is exactly in line with our expectations, and the podium places weren’t decided until the very final lap once more.”
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel claimed the lead off the line from his team mate Mark Webber, who started from pole, while Alonso held his starting position of third. As the track dried out the drivers had to concentrate on preserving their intermediate tyres, with tense battles for second place between Webber and Alonso, and fourth place, between Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher was the first driver to pit for slick tyres on lap nine bolting on a set of the Pirelli PZero Yellow soft tyres as well as a new nosecone, following a clash with Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi. He immediately started to set fastest laps, indicating that the crossover point where it is faster to go onto slick tyres had been reached. Vettel pitted on lap 13 for PZero Yellows and rejoined without losing the lead.
But on lap 27 the German had a problem with the rear jack in the pits during his second stop and dropped to third, while Alonso took the lead. The Ferrari driver utilised a three-stop strategy to win the race, which was used by all the top five. The highest-placed finisher to stop twice was Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, in sixth, while Paul di Resta – classified 15th after a problem in the pits – was the only driver to use the PZero Silver hard tyres during the race. Sauber driver Sergio Perez claimed the best result of his career so far by finishing seventh, having qualified 12th.
Silverstone, which inaugurated a brand new pit and paddock complex this year, has the shortest pit stop penalty of the year, as a pit stop only costs around 14 seconds as opposed to 18 seconds or more at other tracks. This theoretically favours a ‘sprint’ strategy to keep the cars on fresh rubber as long as possible. Alonso ran for 13 laps on his final set of PZero Yellow tyres and 12 laps on his first set of PZero Blue intermediates.
Before the start of the race, Fernando Alonso completed some demonstration laps at the wheel of the Ferrari 375 that won the 1951 British Grand Prix on Pirelli tyres with Froilan Gonzalez, 60 years ago. The car is currently owned by Bernie Ecclestone, the president and CEO of Formula One Management.