Webber shrugs off penalty to grab maiden win

2009 German Grand Prix review

Lewis Hamilton takes the lead but his right-rear tyre is already flat

Lewis Hamilton takes the lead but his right-rear tyre is already flat

He lost the lead at the start and was handed a drive-through penalty for causing a collision.

But that wasn’t enough to stop Mark Webber storming to victory in the German Grand Prix – and claiming the first win of his career.

The Red Bull driver led home a second consecutive one-two for his team while the Brawns struggled to fifth and sixth.

Starting from pole position with more fuel on board than the closest cars to him, Webber might have had things easy had he got away cleanly. But by the time he got to the first corner he’d hit two cars and lost the lead.

First Rubens Barrichello – who’d started second – charged past, the pair making contact as Webber tried to push Barrichello towards the pit wall.

Next Lewis Hamilton came flying by from fifth on the grid thanks to his KERS boost.

Unfortunately for Hamilton he clipped Webber’s front wing on the way past, which punctured his right-rear tyre. For the second time in a row at the Nurburgring he had to limp back to the pits at the end of lap one.

McLaren’s hopes were now resting on the sister car of Kovalainen, which lacked the up-to-date parts that were on Hamilton’s MP4/24. Nevertheless he held onto third in the opening stages, behind Barrichello and Webber.

Jenson Button took fourth off Felipe Massa with a neat move on lap two, but couldn’t do anything about the similarly slow and KERS-equipped McLaren. Sebastian Vettel found himself stuck behind Massa and, as at Catalunya earlier this year, unable to make a pass.

Webber hit with penalty

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2009

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2009

This played into Barrichello and Webber’s hands perfectly as they quickly left Kovalainen and his train behind. By lap ten Kovalainen was 15 seconds in arrears, with the three cars behind him covered by just two seconds.

But on lap 11 the stewards confirmed Webber’s penalty for the clash with Barrichello at the start – a very harsh call which left one wondering about the many past occasions where drivers had pushed rivals clean off the track without being punished.

Red Bull pulled Webber in for his penalty on lap 14 – as late as they could get away with, to take the maximum advantage from Webber’s rivals being stuck behind Kovalainen. Button had already surrendered to the inevitable and made his stop on lap 13, Barrichello following suit the next time by.

Lap 19 saw Webber’s second visit to the pits – for his first stop. This was two laps earlier than team mate Vettel, who had started on an identical load but saved some fuel while stuck behind Massa.

Webber was briefly delayed behind Robert Kubica. He also had Button bottled up behind him, who had picked off Sebastien Buemi and Nick Heidfeld after his first stop. Kubica came in on lap 23, releasing the pair.

It goes wrong for Barrichello

Rubens Barrichello, Brawn, Nurburgring, 2009

Rubens Barrichello, Brawn, Nurburgring, 2009

That proved crucial to the outcome of the race, as Barrichello was now stuck behind Massa. After Kubica pitted Barrichello lapped in a 1’37.641, Button a 1’36.313, and Webber a 1’35.665.

Unable to pass Massa, Barrichello had to wait for him to come in on lap 25 before he could pick up the pace. Even then he had little response for the flying Webber. On lap 31, the last before his pit stop, Barrichello was 1.6s slower than Webber, who had the Brawn in his sights, just 1.2s separating them.

While Button’s Brawn was running a three-stop strategy Barrichello’s second stop was supposed to fuel him to the end. But it didn’t work out that way – the refuelling rig failed and the back-up had to be used. In addition to costing Barrichello precious time, he didn’t take on enough fuel, which ruined the second half of his race.

That effectively sealed the win for Webber – and it also cost Barrichello a place to Button. Afterwards the furious Brazilian had some strong words for his team.

Read more: Rubens Barrichello lashes out after Brawn strategy costs him more points

Rosberg gains ten places

Nico Rosberg, Williams, Nurburgring, 2009

Nico Rosberg, Williams, Nurburgring, 2009

As at Silverstone three weeks ago, Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg used long first stints to make up a lot of places. Massa, who started eighth, found himself third, while Rosberg moved up from 15th on the grid to fourth – thanks also to a brilliant start which gained him six places.

Rosberg had been running behind the Force India of Adrian Sutil in the early stages, but a clash with Raikkonen put Sutil out of the running. The pair collided as Sutil left the pits, damaging the Force India’s nose.

Read more: Sutil and Raikkonen go unpunished after another clash costs Force India a point

Alonso on the attack

The other driver making waves in the final stint was Fernando Alonso, who revelled in his final set of tyres and set the fastest lap of the race on the 49th tour. That brought him onto the rear of the all-Brawn battle for fifth, with Button ahead after their final pit stops.

Button struggled with rear tyre wear on his final set of Bridgestones, lapping in the mid-1’35s and holding up Barrichello and Alonso. The threat of rain that preceded the race failed to materialise, and the temperature was warmer than expected. This should have helped Brawn, but still they struggled with their tyres.

Alonso couldn’t make a pass, though. Nor could the battling Kovalainen (eighth), Timo Glock (impressively up to ninth having started in the pit lane) and Heidfeld (tenth).

Another one-two for Red Bull

Behind the Red Bull one-two – their third of the year – came Massa and Rosberg, followed by the Brawns. Heikki Kovalainen took the final point and Alonso grabbed two for seventh – making up for an embarassing moment on the formation lap when he spun off, much as he did at Catalunya last year.

A race that promised much for Force India ended with Giancarlo Fisichella an anonymous 11th and Sutil 15th. Sutil’s nemesis Raikkonen retired shortly after half distrance. BMW’s revised diffuser did little for their poor pace, Heidfeld finishing tenth and Kubica 14th.

Jarno Trulli was 17th, ruing a first-lap collision that damaged his front wing. The other victim of the first-lap melee, Lewis Hamilton, was 18th and last of the runners.

Sebastian Bourdais quietly pulled into the pits and retired on lap 18, from what might have been his last race.

Webber’s win changes the complexion of the championship – it signals Red Bull’s ability to challenge Red Bull for the rest of the season, but it also shows that with two closely-matched drivers they will have to accept the pair will take points off each other.

Button, fifth, now leads by 21 points with Vettel second, and Webber another 1.5 points behind. Brawn’s lead in the constructors’ championship is down to 19.5 points.

Read more

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2009

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2009

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60 comments on Webber shrugs off penalty to grab maiden win

  1. James G said on 12th July 2009, 19:28

    What can I say, except Exceptional Drive from Webber!

    • F1Fan said on 12th July 2009, 21:05

      You must be kidding. THere was only one thing he could do wrong w/ such a car, and he did it, hitting Barrichello, and then getting penalized for it. He is fortunate to have such a magnificent car. The race was won by Adrian Newey, not Webber.

      • EGG said on 12th July 2009, 21:50

        Typical Brawn fan

      • James G said on 12th July 2009, 22:14

        He got penalised for what almost everyone (including DC, Martin Brundle, Keith and 80% of the people on the live blog) thought was extremely harsh and still managed to come back and win it in style. It’s true the Red Bull is a good car, but in that case, Vettel should easily have beaten Webber after his drive through penalty.

      • Senor Paz said on 13th July 2009, 2:21

        F1Fan, you should consider stopping with the idiotic remarks… You just embarass yourself.

        The penalty was harsh but fair. We all can see the stewards have been extremely tough these days, so it comes as no big surprise. Mark’s merit comes in winning so commandingly despite this minor mistake.

        It was also pleasing to see the stewards NOT punishing the incident between Kimi and Adrian, a very similar one to the Felipe/Bordais incident in Fuji last year. That time they did give out a penalty, which I criticised at the time.

        Shame to see Lewis Hamilton doing something stupid on Turn 1 again, also bringing back Japanese memories.

        Also fantastic races by Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg, with fantastic starts!

        CONGRATS TO MARK, FINALLY!!! WHAT A RACE!

        (I have to say, as a Brazilian currently residing in Australia, this race couldn’t have been better…)

      • Brett M said on 13th July 2009, 4:53

        And Jenson has not won a race all year – Ross Brawn has – LOL

        • Ronman said on 13th July 2009, 8:00

          TO be honest, Newey did win this race, as he did the last. well done for webber. his recovery from the drive through was excellent. it was nice to see two veterans fighting for the top spot.

          • Senor Paz said on 13th July 2009, 23:13

            No, Christian Horner won the race because he employed Newey.

            Can’t you see how dumb this regression is?

          • Brett M said on 15th July 2009, 6:01

            No – I actually think that Mark won this!!!!
            It Newey who ‘collided’ with Rubins I guess…
            WHATEVER

  2. Fer no.65 said on 12th July 2009, 19:35

    “it signals Red Bull’s ability to challenge Red Bull for the rest of the season”

    Red Bull challenging Red Bull. :P

  3. FLIG said on 12th July 2009, 19:37

    Yes, I don’t like him but he really showed how to race today. When he hit Barrichello I instantly thought “That *******! He won’t shut his mouth about not doing these things and here it is, when it’s him fighting for it, he’s Schumachering around!”
    But then he didn’t say a word, paid his penalty, raced like hell and won. Congratulations Mark Webber.

    • Maksutov said on 12th July 2009, 20:34

      I think you are overreacting a little. It was a very minor touch with Barrichello, maybe he tried to swerve a little to distract Barrichello, and touching him was a clean accident as he quickly pulled back anyhow. And certainly didnt look like he was trying to push him and squeeze him out off the race track. But honestly I see no big deal with it..

      • FLIG said on 12th July 2009, 20:45

        Me neither, I rather like it. The thing is Webber overreacts all the time about this kind of move. And I also think it’s because I watched it in Italian television. The italians repeated like a thousand times that it was intentional and unnecessary.
        Anyway, a very minor touch can ruin one’s best race ever, like Sutil can tell you.

        • Kovy said on 13th July 2009, 6:33

          I can’t believe people are actually saying Webber deliberately hit Barrichello. Webber wanted to win, ramming someone at the first corner would not have been part of his plan. He knew he had an extra 5 laps of fuel, too.

          • todd said on 13th July 2009, 9:53

            yeah i dont think it was deliberate to make contact, maybe to scare but not to make contact. in the interview he said he thought that he was on the other side.

            there is a blind spot there so you don’t really know where he is.

            besides, making contact like that he has more to lose with damage to his wheel than rubes sidepod.

            congrats to webber, been a long time coming, as an aussie its good, i’ve doubted him but with a car that’s got some good pace he’s actually driving quite well.

            if vettel is the golden child and he’s able to compete with vettel with the same package then my hat’s off to him.

  4. Hammad said on 12th July 2009, 20:52

    He shouldn’t have got a penalty though..

  5. persempre said on 12th July 2009, 20:57

    The penalty was harsh, I think.
    We’re never going to see good wheel-to-wheel racing if every little touch (neither car was badly damaged) ends up in a drive-through. :(

    • TommyB said on 12th July 2009, 21:52

      Yep, they want F1 to be more exciting but any kind of manoeuvre or overtake ends up in a drive through penalty

    • ranilom said on 13th July 2009, 9:40

      exactly! usually when these things are done with intention…they don’t end up without scratches.
      I think Webber was quick to react, honest racing mistake to me.
      And even if they leave some marks on the bodywork without compromising the race…were is the problem???
      Is the only action we get in an hr+ of race..

    • dsob said on 13th July 2009, 10:49

      True enough.

      This is a very good article on that subject. Well worth the read.

      • persempre said on 13th July 2009, 12:03

        A very interesting article, dsob.

        The age-old problem I see with the idea of ex-drivers as Stewards is it would only feed the conspiracy theorists. Particularly if there was only one on the panel.
        Can you imagine what would be said if, for instance, it was an ex-Ferrari driver & the decision went Ferrari’s way? This would apply to any driver with any link to a team or, conversely, who may have been a rival of a particular team.
        Personally, I don’t think it would put an end to the problems.

  6. monaco73 said on 12th July 2009, 21:02

    Fantastic drive by Webbo, I thought the penalty might have hobbled him a bit, but he put in some flying laps after that. Great to see him on the top step of the podium! Throughly deserved and I hope he has a crack for more P1’s now.

    Vettel was somehow off the boil a bit though, but the Red Bulls have definately got the bit between their teeth.

    And Barichello couldn’t get the hammer down when he needed to either. He had a point on the fuel rig cock up, but it was interesting to see Brawn pointing out Rubens managed the 11th fastest time on track…which isn’t really helping.

    A final note though for Kimi and Adrian S. who just can’t help themselves. It would have great for Force India to get a 6th or 7th which would have been do-able. I truly felt for Sutil – the guy was running in 2nd before his stop too!

    The second half of the season is going to be pretty exciting…

    • persempre said on 12th July 2009, 21:11

      The fuel rigs are getting old &, if refuelling were to carry on, would soon need replacing.
      I don’t think the teams can really be blamed for a rig failure.

    • Spud said on 12th July 2009, 22:35

      A final note though for Kimi and Adrian S. who just can’t help themselves. It would have great for Force India to get a 6th or 7th which would have been do-able. I truly felt for Sutil – the guy was running in 2nd before his stop too!

      I was very disappointed for him too.
      I’d say the bookies breathed a sigh of relief though!

      There are points comin for him soon. Great race but really hard luck!

  7. F1Fan said on 12th July 2009, 21:11

    RBR is about half a second faster than Brawn. If I am Ross, I am really, really worried about this championship right about now. RBR 1-2 and that was w/ Brawn bringing a load of previously unused and new parts, on a track that supposedly suits their car, and w/out any rain.

    RBR will dominate Budapest as well, then Brawn has 3 weeks to do something, or this championship is suddenly in great jeopardy.

    BTW, I can already see that next year the ‘empires’ (Ferrari – McLaren) will be back.

    • Patrickl said on 12th July 2009, 21:20

      BrawnGP is coming with a major update for Budapest. That coupled with the higher temperatures might help them get back on top.

  8. Internet said on 12th July 2009, 21:16

    This race showed how important and useful KERS can be. Ferrari and especially McLaren were fools for accepting the ban on KERS for 2010. They should have left it optional like this year.

    They would have reaped the rewards as development would have made battery packs smaller, lighter along with the rest of the accessories.

    • Patrickl said on 12th July 2009, 21:26

      It’s still optional for non FOTA teams. I’d love to see Williams put it on their car for 2010.

    • Bookgrub said on 13th July 2009, 2:10

      Massa in the post-race interviews though was pretty clear he’d swap KERS for some downforce in a heartbeat. I imagine McLaren think the same.

      KERS was supposed to be an advantage in general racing – not a tool to allow slower cars to defend positions their pace doesn’t justify.

      • Senor Paz said on 13th July 2009, 2:25

        Indeed.

      • Patrickl said on 13th July 2009, 20:48

        McLaren claimed that it makes their cars lap faster by 3 tenths on the Nurburgring.

        It’s not just an (anti) overtaking tool.

        Of course if they would have spent the money on developing the aero instead they might have gained more, but they also might not have.

    • ranilom said on 13th July 2009, 9:55

      some comments some times make me think..bloggers should run an F1 team…because McLaren and Ferrari ..are both fulls.
      I am sure they just flip a coin before they made the decision to dump the Kers next season……

      • persempre said on 13th July 2009, 12:12

        A1 GP has had push-to-pass (boost button) since it started & it does nothing to improve the show, IMO.
        Mostly 2 cars use it at exactly the same time, the front car to keep the follower behind & the rear car in an attempt to overtake. The outcome is that neither gets a benefit & the boost is wasted.
        Why Max thought that a concept already used in other series & in some road cars should be brought into F1 is beyond me but I believe it had much more to do with wanting to give F1 a green image & nothing to do with the racing.

  9. nev said on 12th July 2009, 21:56

    i still think button has it in the bag, wait until we get back to the hotter climes

  10. Mahir C said on 12th July 2009, 22:21

    While Button’s Brawn was running a three-stop strategy Barrichello’s second stop was supposed to fuel him to the end.

    Keith you sounded like team was going to switch Rubens to a 2 stop strategy but fuel rig prevented them to do so. Is that really so, where did you hear it? why would they program two different fuel rigs to deliver different amounts, I thought the second is there for pure back up.

  11. sato113 said on 12th July 2009, 23:23

    ‘it signals Red Bull’s ability to challenge Red Bull’- i’m sure that’d be counter-productive keith!

  12. dibble said on 13th July 2009, 0:31

    well done webber good one :)

  13. Lutz said on 13th July 2009, 1:54

    I think Webber deserved the penalty, and RBR showed everyone how to handle the situation. Webber did his drivethrough just as BAR did his first pitstop and after it he raced like hell giving no chance for no one.

    Great victory for Webber, but RBR strategists deserves more credit!

    and what about that brawn fuelling hose?!

    When a team is fighting for the championship and comits this kind of silly mistake…

    remebers me of a certain red team destroying its own chances last year…

    • Senor Paz said on 13th July 2009, 2:37

      Yes, the Red Bull strategists did an amazing job this race.

      Something that went under the radar was the fact that they pitted Mark for his last stint so that he would come out and split Vettel and Massa. The timing was extremely precise, and Massa was really threatening Vettel’s 2nd as he just couldn’t pull away despite having less fuel. Mark gave him enough of a buffer to maintain track position.

      I was exacly the same thing that Brawn did so well some weeks ago with Jenson in Monaco, protecting Barrichello from the (again) advancing Massa.

  14. wasiF1 said on 13th July 2009, 1:56

    Webber great job.Its the Bed Bull vs Brawn.Sympathy for Sutil.Roseberg did race well.

    Is Brawn domination over?

  15. Lutz said on 13th July 2009, 1:59

    oh, forgot to say

    tears came to my eyes while listening the superexcited aussie screaming and crying in his cockpit!

    go webber!

    • Bookgrub said on 13th July 2009, 2:13

      Great to see that genuine excitement, although the BBC broadcast did miss the muffled expletive at the start.

      Still, probably most english-speaking listeners wouldn’t have picked that one up.

      I spent the last lap waiting for something to go wrong – crazed fan on the track, bird strike, engine failure. Years of seeing good work undone by poor luck for Webber has left me cynical about his chances in any situation.

      Brilliant to see years of excellent work rewarded at last.

      • Senor Paz said on 13th July 2009, 2:41

        Yep, lucky Webber wasn’t in Bahrein and there were no dogs on the track! It all comes down to luck, really. :)

    • Brett M said on 13th July 2009, 5:06

      To see him HUG his Red Bull when he got out and when he looked up at the Aust Flag as it sailed above him with such pride….
      Knock him as much as you want but you cannot fake emotion like that – also dont forget his incident with the X-Trail in Tasmania which could have ended his career
      GO WEBBER

    • nian said on 29th July 2009, 8:49

      me too, i hope this would be not the last victory he won

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