SILVERSTONE, England — Red Bull driver Mark Webber won the British Grand Prix on Sunday, overtaking Fernando Alonso to move closer to his rival in the race for the Formula One championship.
In dry conditions after two days of rain caused chaos on and off the Silverstone track, Webber pursued pole-sitter Alonso from the start and finally passed the Ferrari driver on lap 48 of 52.
“Fernando Alonso had very good pace, we had the better strategy in the end,” Webber said. “We never gave up, we kept pushing and it did not work out in the end for Fernando.”
Webber pulled within 13 points of Alonso with his second victory in this unpredictable season. Alonso is the only other driver to win more than once in 2012.
“We were controlling the race more or less OK until the last stint, we were now quick enough and when Mark arrived I think he overtook very easy and there was nothing we can do,” said Alonso, who won the European GP two weeks ago.
It was Webber’s second victory in three years at Silverstone. The Australian driver lives nearby and he says staying at home aids his performance.
“There is that extra little bit that makes you a little bit more relaxed and a bit more comfortable,” he said.
He also upstaged world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel, who finished third and is third in the title race, and is in a prime position as he enters negotiations over a new deal for the 2013 season.
“Mark is doing great for us, we love having him in the team,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said.
It was a disappointing day for the leading British drivers as both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button failed to make the podium.
Hamilton, who is fourth in the drivers’ standings, finished eighth and McLaren teammate Button was 10th.
“I pushed as hard as I could but I didn’t have any speed for some reason,” Hamilton said.
Michael Schumacher had started from third, but failed to make the podium for the second successive race. He finished seventh.
Sauber was fortunate to avoid a more serious calamity when Kamui Kobayashi braked late while pitting on lap 37 and hit several members of his pit crew.
The Japanese driver was fined $31,000. Two mechanics were taken to the circuit medical center — one with an injured thumb and another with “cuts and bruises” — while a third was treated for a bruised foot in the Sauber garage.
“(It) was my fault and I want to apologize to the team,” said Kobayashi, who finished 11th.
Sauber also was in the spotlight earlier in the race when Sergio Perez collided with Pastor Maldonado of Williams on lap 12 and was forced to retire after spinning off the track.
The race stewards gave Maldonado a $12,300 fine and Perez accused the Venezuelan of being a “very dangerous driver.”
“He didn’t give me any room,” Perez said. “He has no respect for other drivers.”
Maldonado defended his driving style, describing the collision as a “very disappointing moment.”
“I was on the inside of the corner, so it was mine, Sergio was outside trying to take the position from me,” Maldonado told the BBC. “I tried to defend and lost the rear of the car and we bumped tires. It was disappointing.
“It was an unlucky race for me and that is it. Sergio can say what he wants. We are racing, we are trying to do our best. I was trying to defend, he was trying to gain and this is racing.”
Maldonado finished 17th.