British Grand Prix 2012: Lessons learned as Mark Webber triumphs
What lessons did we learn from Sunday's British Grand Prix, where Red Bull's Mark Webber won his second race of the season?
Webber’s relentless approach could win the title
Mark Webber’s second victory in three years around Silverstone was as unexpected as it was deserved. With Fernando Alonso having led throughout, bar the pit stop phase, the Spaniard appeared to be cruising towards a third victory in an impressive season. However, a smart tactical decision by Red Bull saw Webber able to capitalise on Alonso’s deteriorating soft tyres and take the victory. That Webber was in the position to be close enough to catch and overtake Fernando is credit to the Australian. His much-maligned starts have dramatically improved this year and if it weren’t for the Ferrari man’s successful defensive driving into the first corner, Webber could easily have taken the lead from the grid. Seemingly revitalised this year after a nightmare 2011 season, Webber is more than a match for team-mate Sebastian Vettel this season, and every other driver on the grid. 2012 could be the year he finally wins his first world title should he continue to perform as he has this weekend.
Maldonado is not always to blame
The Venezuelan driver is fast becoming a pariah in the paddock following a series of crashes with various rivals. On more than one of these occasions he has been at fault, but the criticism aimed at him after the crash which ended Sergio Perez’s race on Sunday seems a little unfair. With Perez attempting to overtake Maldonado less than half a lap after they both left the pits, the Williams driver slid into the Mexican, ending both their chances of a decent points haul, and Perez’s race altogether. However, it seemed clear to me that Maldonado lost control of the rear end of his car, which unfortunately clattered Perez’s Sauber. With not even a full lap completed on his new tyres, it’s not implausible that the Pirelli rubber wasn’t up to full temperature and performance levels. The relatively small €10,000 fine dished out by the stewards seems almost apologetic. More worrying for Maldonado should be his rival’s claim that all drivers on the grid think he is a danger on track – this lack of faith in a race winner’s ability and decision making should not be taken lightly and it will be interesting to see how he responds in Germany this weekend.
There is still something missing at Lotus
Another solid points haul this weekend for Lotus helped them remain in third place in the constructor’s standings. However, they will be desperate to record that elusive victory. As the field spreads in terms of performance, the win becomes less likely as the traditional heavyweights such as Red Bull and Ferrari find their feet once more. There is no doubt this weekend that Romain Grosjean’s race was compromised by contact with the unfortunate Paul di Resta, with neither driver to blame but both suffering the consequences of the briefest of collisions. The Frenchman did well to recover and follow team-mate Kimi Raikonnen home in sixth. However, Lotus’ qualifying performances are starting to dip and Grosjean admitted to the TV cameras qualifying higher, as they have done regularly, will help them avoid the midfield melee.
Button’s title challenge is over
After another disappointing weekend it is surely time for Button to concede defeat in his quest for a second world title. Sadly for the McLaren driver, a 10th-place finish at Silverstone – a track where he has never won – means he has only picked up five points from the last 100 available. Indeed, it was unlikely that he would score even a single point had it not been for Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg running wide in the closing stages which allowed Bruno Senna, Button and Kamui Kobayashi to overtake him. Button now sits 79 points behind Fernando Alonso in the championship, and it is hard to see his fortunes improving dramatically enough now to make up that sort of gap. McLaren’s performances at the last two races have been poor by their own high standards, with Red Bull and Ferrari taking huge strides forward at the same time. It is a worry for Button and team-mate Lewis Hamilton that their car has struggled on two widely different circuits – from the fast and flowing Silverstone to the tight and twisty Valencia.