Webber prevails in Silverstone tactical challenge
The British Grand Prix took place in dry weather against all the odds, though drenched practice and qualifying sessions – not to mention waterlogged car parks – made choosing a definitive tyre strategy impossible, since little information was available to teams about how their cars would use the available rubber. Red Bull’s tactics prevailed, with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel both achieving podium finishes, sandwiching Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who held onto his lead of the Drivers Championship with a second place earned only after an intense battle for supremacy with Webber. Webber is the second driver, after Alonso, to reach two Grand Prix victories this season.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “After a wet weekend so far, it was great to see the sun shining for the start of the British Grand Prix and a fully dry race. But this presented its own challenges for the teams, as they had very little information on which to base their strategies. With no rubber having been laid down on the track during Friday and Saturday, the track also evolved notably during the race.”
Alonso qualified on pole and started on the P Zero Silver hard tyre, whereas Webber was second on the grid and started on the P Zero Yellow soft tyre. Webber completed one stint on the soft compound and then two stints on the hard tyre, using the durability of the P Zero Silver to catch and pass Alonso with four laps to go. Alonso’s final stint was on the soft tyre after completing two stints on the harder compound.
With so little dry running before the race start, teams had very limited information about the behaviour of the hard and soft tyres at Silverstone, as they had only been used briefly during the final free practice session on Saturday. The race started with track temperatures of 31°C, in contrast to the rain and asphalt temperatures of approximately 15°C that characterised Friday and Saturday. The bad weather though meant that most drivers had their full allocation of slick tyres in pristine condition before the start of the 52-lap race, with only Webber putting on a used set of hard tyres for his final stint.
The top 10 on the grid all started on the P Zero Yellow soft tyre apart from Alonso and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, with a huge variety of start tyre choices in evidence. Webber and Alonso made their first stop for hard tyres on laps 14 and 15 respectively (Webber’s first set and Alonso’s second set) but such was Alonso’s early advantage that he was able to make his second and final stop for the softs with 15 laps to go, without losing the lead. However, Webber was able to overhaul Alonso after a thrilling battle in the closing stages of the grand prix.
“Everyone had their own thinking on the best way forward, which was reflected in the huge variety of start tyre choices, with most drivers having an ample selection of unused slicks at their disposal. Mark Webber and Red Bull chose tactics that paid off brilliantly. Like everybody else, we’ve been hugely impressed by the dedication and commitment of the fans this weekend, who have endured some extremely arduous circumstances, but were finally rewarded with another great race.”