Webber roars into F1 title contention
Mark Webber served serious notice that he is a contender to take the drivers’ world title this year when he swept to a dramatic and perfectly-judged victory in an incident-filled British Grand Prix.
The 35-year-old Australian posted a near-flawless performance to triumph in the welcome dry conditions ahead of his friend and Ferrari rival Fernando Alonso.
It was Webber’s second Silverstone win in three years, his second victory this year and the ninth of his career, lifting him to 116 points in second place in the drivers’ championship, 13 behind leader Alonso who has 129.
Webber pursued pole-sitter Alonso from the start and finally passed the Ferrari driver on Lap 48 of 52.
“It was very interesting for me,” Webber said.
“Fernando had good pace from the start, but we had the better strategy in the end. We never gave up, we kept pushing and it did not work out in the end for Fernando.”
Webber also upstaged world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel, who finished third and is third in the title race, leaving him in prime position as he enters negotiations over a new deal for the 2013 season.
Red Bull team chief Christian Horner was reluctant to discuss his plans for Webber who’s current contract ends this season.
“Mark was quick when we needed him to be and the pass was fantastic,” Horner said.
“Mark this year has been in great form. He is enjoying his driving again and his performance here has been very strong.
“Mark is doing great for us, we love having him in the team. We have agreed to sit down in the next couple of weeks (and discuss his future).”
Webber admitted before the race that he had been in touch with other teams – and speculation has suggested he is a strong candidate to partner Alonso at Ferrari next year – but he said it was “not too serious.”
By joining Alonso as one of the only two men to have won two races this year, Webber confirmed his competitive potential.
Alonso conceded: “It was very close today but at the end Mark was much quicker than us and deserved the victory. Now we are fighting for victories in the last three or four Grand Prix.
Vettel said: “Mark deserved to win.”
Felipe Massa finished fourth in the second Ferrari ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and his Lotus colleague Romain Grosjean.
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher of Mercedes finished seventh ahead of home favourite Lewis Hamilton who produced some spectacular racing on his way to eighth for McLaren.
Bruno Senna finished ninth for Williams and Jenson Button was 10th in the second McLaren.© AAP 2013
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