Mark Webber’s famous words at last year’s British Grand Prix – “not bad for a number two driver” – took on a new significance after this year’s race.
Webber refused to heed an order from the team not to try to overtake Sebastian Vettel at the end of the race.
“I wanted points for the championship too and we proved that we can race without making contact,” he said.
|Sebastian Vettel||Mark Webber|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’30.431 (+0.032)||1’30.399|
Red Bull drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
Missed out on pole position for only the second time this year, as Webber pipped him by 0.032s.
But it looked like business as usual as Vettel took the lead at the start and had an eight-and-a-half second cushion after just nine laps.
The team brought Webber in for his first pit stop before Vettel – that allowed Webber to stay in front of Fernando Alonso, but cut five seconds out of Vettel’s lead.
Vettel was delayed by a rear jack problem at his second pit stop, dropping him to third behind Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.
He made several attempts to pass Hamilton, attacking the McLaren especially hard through Woodcote, but couldn’t find a way past and was losing a lot of time.
The team cut his third stint short – just 11 laps – and brought him in for his final stop early, to jump ahead of Hamilton.
This worked, but towards the end of his final stint he was being caught quickly by Webber, partly due to Vettel experiencing another KERS problem on the RB7.
Although the team ordered Webber not to pass Vettel, Webber pressed on and challenged Vettel for second on the final lap.
Vettel brushed off the incident, saying in the press conference afterwards: “I tried to stay ahead. Obviously, we were racing each other. I don?óÔé¼Ôäót think there?óÔé¼Ôäós anything wrong with that.
“Sure, from a team point of view, if you have the cars quite isolated in second and third, the first car is away, the fourth car is pretty far away as well, so from the team?óÔé¼Ôäós point of view, there?óÔé¼Ôäós no point in racing and trying to do something stupid because the points for the team are the same, the difference between second and third is not massive, but naturally we try to race.
“What can I say? I was trying to defend my position which I did. I was struggling, Mark was faster. And then there was the chequered flag.”
Webber’s performance at Silverstone leant weight to the theory that Vettel is able to better exploit the hot-blown diffusers Webber is.
With the systems subject to new restrictions at Silverstone, Webber beat Vettel in a straight fight in qualifying for the first time this year (Webber’s previous pole position at Spain came as Vettel had problems with his KERS).
Unfortunately for Webber, the restrictions are set to be lifted at the next race.
He lost the lead to Vettel at the start – Webber said afterwards he felt the right-hand side of the grid offered better grip.
He came under pressure from Alonso but after they pitted together on lap 13 for slicks he was able to pull away from the Ferrari.
Webber had a similar problem to Vettel’s at his second pit stop. He also said he made a mistake at Becketts on his in-lap. This wasn’t his only such error – he also ran wide at Chapel on lap 33.
His pit stop problems left him running behind Vettel, chasing Hamilton. After his third and final pit stop he passed Hamilton on the Wellington straight.
Now came the controversial moment of the race as the flying Webber reeled in Vettel by over a second per lap. According to Webber, the team began telling him to hold position around four or five laps from the end of the race, at which point he was three to four seconds behind his team mate.
Webber ignored the instruction, and around the final laps he tested Vettel’s defences, looking for a way past, even trying the outside line at Woodcote before thinking better of it.
He had to settle for third place in the end, but was unimpressed with Red Bull’s team orders: “The team radioed me about four times, asking that I maintain the gap to Seb.
“But I wasn?óÔé¼Ôäót happy with that because you should never give up in F1, so I continued to push. If Fernando had retired on the last lap, we would have been battling for the lead.
“The team was worried about Seb and me crashing because it wanted the points for the constructors’ championship. I understand that, but I wanted points for the championship too and we proved that we can race without making contact.”
2011 British Grand Prix
- 2011 British Grand Prix: complete race weekend review
- Vote for your British Grand Prix driver of the weekend
- Red Bull: Webber made a number two driver again
- Ferrari back on form after poor start to 2011
- McLaren: Fuel and pit errors add to problems
- Renault: Heidfeld salvages points from poor weekend
- Mercedes pass Renault in the championship
- Force India squander points chance
- Sauber: Perez claims best-ever result
- Toro Rosso: Alguersuari battles Buemi for point
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