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. Cameron said on 13th July 2009, 5:02

    Well done Mark Webber. A brilliant result that looks likely to keep this championship alive! As for poor Lewis… just not his year I guess.

    Someone tell me… Are the new parts on the McLaren creating a genuine improvement, or did the track in particular allow for what seemed like a more competitive car?

    • Bookgrub said on 13th July 2009, 6:15

      It would have to be some of both. Kovalainen had only the front wing upgraded – which can’t have been worth too much – but he was much pacier than usual.

      That KERS was reinstated for both McLarens and both Ferraris this race indicates it was a greater than usual help.

      The mid-corner speeds for Hamilton were much faster than Kovalainen, which is extra downforce all the way.

      I expect them to come back to the pack in Hungary, but not by much – they’ll be looking for Q3 for both cars again.

  2. m0tion said on 13th July 2009, 6:46

    Now the monkey is off his back I think we will see Mark excel. I still am guessing that his fuel consumption isn’t the continuing issue but that his weight together with that of the car puts him over the regulatory minimum by a couple of kg before they put the fuel in. Even when he has been following a car and turned down Mark has been consistently 1-2 laps short of Vettel in each GP on an equal load per lap basis.

    The engine mapping for the RBR starts must finally be improved, I note however that Alonso and Piquet had problems too.

    I worry when they start complimenting PDLR for improving the MP4 even without the testing. It means to me that he has made a real difference and that McLaren might be right in it soon. If I owned a new team I would be buying either Rubens or PDLR as 1st choice due their development skills.

  3. PJA said on 13th July 2009, 10:09

    A great race by Webber to finally get his first Grand Prix victory. I thought his penalty was harsh. But given the way the stewards are now I was not totally surprised. Although on some replays it appeared Webber had swerved into Barrichello the video from Webber’s onboard seemed to show that he hardly moved the steering wheel.

    Unfortunate for Hamilton clipping Webber at the start and getting the puncture and damaging his car, I think without that Hamilton may have finished as high as second.

    Bad luck for Sutil and Force India, every time they seem to be set to get their first points something seems to happen. I think his coming together with Raikkonen was just a racing incident so am glad the stewards didn’t decide to penalise anyone.

    As for Barrichello’s comments if anything cost him the race apart from the Brawn just not being fast enough it was his inability to get past Massa after his first stop.

    Where did Alonso’s late race pace in the Renault come from, was this just a one off or can we expect this sort of pace from now on?

  4. Kutigz said on 13th July 2009, 11:48

    Say what u all want; i only see it one way – Webber did cause Mclaren a deserved high point finish!!

  5. Well done webber – and still with pins in youre leg from this years bike accident – never mind penalties!!!

  6. Webber’move on Barichello at the start – deliberate. The stewards decision to penalize him – harsh.
    Overall, the German Grand Prix was quite interesting.

  7. nian said on 29th July 2009, 9:00

    i wonder why… kimi like to hit a. sutil very much… (monaco, 2008/ 2007)

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