MARK Webber pulled off an incredible late move around the outside to pass Fernando Alonso and win his second British Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Australian made his move five laps from the chequered flag, much to the delight of the huge Silverstone crowd, as he closed to within 13 points of the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship lead.
Webber’s Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel rounded off the podium in third – the same three faces that made up the podium at the race 12 months ago.
“It’s taking a while to sink in this one,” said a delighted Webber afterwards. “I think it was the circumstances of the race – for most of it I was marking off second place.
“Fernando was not quite out of touch and after the last stop, my engineer Ciaron came on the radio saying that Fernando was not doing much on the option tyres.
“But I know Fernando is a wily old fox, I thought he was looking after the tyres and just waiting to pull the pin and go a little bit.
“When I got within two seconds I thought maybe he’s in a little bit of trouble and it was real. It was completely game on when I knew the DRS was available, I made the move stick and our hard work paid off.”
Incredibly, the race remained dry throughout after the weekend was somewhat decimated with torrential rain, rendering much of the Friday free practice a write-off, while qualifying was delayed for more than an hour as a downpour in the middle of the session made conditions impossible and unsafe.
The Red Bull pair were racing in a novel livery featuring fans’ faces for their charity ‘Wings for Life’ and were keen to impress at the team’s home Grand Prix, with Webber starting second and Vettel fourth.
From the start, Webber held position but Vettel fell behind Felipe Massa’s Ferrari. Third place Michael Schumacher held up the pair as Alonso and Webber made off at the front, opening up a healthy gap to the chasers.
As they neared the end of the first stint, Alonso was beginning to put the hammer down and opened up a gap of his own to Webber. Both Massa and Vettel eventually made it past Schumacher but were struggling to make any ground on the leading duo.
The reigning world champions leap-frogged Massa during the pit-stops and made off after the leaders. Alonso though was looking in total control, opening up a solid gap to Webber who seemed to have nothing in response.
But when the pair stopped for the final time, Alonso appeared to be struggling with his tyres, while Webber was flying and had his sights set on the Ferrari in front.
And with seven laps to go, Webber was right on the tail of Alonso and within DRS range. After two dummy runs, Webber forced Alonso to defend down the Wellington Straight, allowing him to race around the outside of Brooklands and hold the line into Luffield to take the lead, which he held to the chequered flag.
Vettel also put on a late charge, but ran out of laps to catch the ailing Ferrari, crossing the line third.
He said: “It was a tough day. The start was not so good. I lost a little bit and then got stuck behind Michael, but had a good strategy to come back. We decided to pit early and we came out ahead, so that was a good call. I would be a bit happier if we had won today, but it was a great result for the team at our local race.”
Team boss Christian Horner added: “It’s an unbelievable day for the team to have both driers up on the podium just up the road from the factory with so many members of the team here.
“We also had 25,000 pictures on each car supporting Wings for Life, which has raised a million Euros for the charity. So, after a tough start to the weekend, the sun finally shone for the fans and the team and it was a fantastic team result.”
Webber now trails Alonso by 13 points in the Drivers’ standings, with Vettel 29 points from the summit. Red Bull remain on top in the Constructors’ Championship, leading Ferrari by 64 points.