Silverstone GPR Race Recap: Rosberg wins, tyres fail in thrilling British GP

Nico Rosberg won the 2013 British Grand Prix, holding off a late charging Mark Webber, who had dropped to fifteenth on the start. Silverstone was the site of a particularly thrilling race, as two different leaders fell out of leading position, two Safety Cars, and multiple tyre delaminations marked the dicey race. Fernando Alonso completed the podium after slicing through the field in the final seven lap sprint. He was not the only driver pushing through the field, as it seemed every driver had a scrap with every other racer up and down the field throughout the grand prix.

Though Lewis Hamilton looked like he would win after starting on pole and keeping the lead in the early stages, he lost a tyre on the Wellington Straight. Hamilton, Massa, and Vergne all lost their left rears in dramatic fashion, leading to the first SC deployment. Perez would suffer his second delamination on the weekend later in the race. Red Bull had also found cuts on Vettel’s left rear on his pit stop in the midst of the melee. Sebastian Vettel had inherited the lead from Hamilton, only for the German to suffer a gearbox failure and loss of drive with ten laps remaining. As he parked on the pit straight, the SC came out fro the second time, leading to that final seven lap sprint to the end.

Hamilton (1:29.607) seemed determined to take pole for his home grand prix, despite getting a late start to Q1 after greeting the crowds on the pit straight. He and teammate Rosberg, who had led two of the three previous practices, led the way through Saturday’s qualifying sessions. Vettel and Webber were also quick, with Vettel leading the timesheets at the end of Q2, but were unable to catch the Mercedes duo in the mad rush to fast laps after the flag in Q3.

The British skies cooperated for qualifying, staying fairly clear and sunny for all three sessions. That didn’t help Button, who managed only eleventh for McLaren. Also disappointed were Raikkonen and Alonso, who qualified ninth and tenth. Ricciardo, Sutil, and Grosjean filled in between Webber and Raikkonen. Every driver below fifth would move up a position, as di Resta dropped to the rear of the grid. The stewards disqualified his fantastic fifth place qualifying time after he and his Force India weighed in at 1.5kg underweight after qualifying.

Ricciardo led the first practice, notable mainly for lack of running. No one left the garages in the Friday morning downpour as the forecast indicated that no more rain would fall on the weekend. The young Australian set the first time of the ninety minute session when less than fifteen minutes remained in it. Hulkenberg, Maldonado, Hamilton, and Gutierrez completed the fastest five. Rosberg led the afternoon practice and again Saturday morning’s practice. Webber, Vettel, di Resta, and Grosjean were amongst the top five in those two sessions. Massa caused a red flag Friday, his third race weekend in a row with a crash, after losing the rear and landing in the barrier at Stowe.

Race Start:
Hamilton got a good start as the lights went out, staying ahead of Rosberg, who lost second to Vettel. Webber’s start returned to its horrible consistency, bogging the Australian down into the pack to fifteenth. He had been clipped by a Lotus, damaging his front wing. Massa, though, got a fantastic start, managing to jump to fifth through the first few turns. Alonso dropped to tenth from his ninth place start after getting stuck behind the Webber/Grosjean touch. At the end of L1, Hamilton led Vettel, Rosberg, Sutil, Massa, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Grosjean, Alonso, and Button as the top ten. Webber had moved up to fourteenth with a pass on Maldonado.

Alonso looked particularly racy, pushing through on Grosjean after they spent a few corners where to wheel. Di Resta also had the bit between his teeth, moving up to seventeenth from his twenty-second starting position. He soon passed Maldonado for sixteenth. Alonso passed Grosjean not long after, taking eighth. Webber had moved back up to twelfth and began worrying Button for eleventh, after teammate Perez had passed the Briton. Webber took the position handily with the aid of DRS.

At the front, Hamilton had a two second lead, only to have his left rear tyre fall apart on the Wellington Straight on L8. He slowly made his way back to the garage, dropping ot eighteenth, and rejoined with a set of hard tyres. Grosjean pitting on L10, as did di Resta.

End L10 of 52/Tyres Fall Apart/Pit Stops Begin:
Grosjean and di Resta pitted from sixth and thirteenth, respectively. Almost immediately thereafter, Massa spun out with a left rear puncture, just as he was, coming out of The Loop. Alonso, Webber, and Gutierrez all pitted on L11 in a flurry of seeming responses to the tyre issues seen on track. Massa finally got to the garage, having dropped to the final position. Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Button, and Bianchi all pitted on the next lap. Rosberg, Sutil, Hulkenberg pitted on the next lap .

Meanwhile, Alonso passed Grosjean, then Vergne. Just as Vettel pitted from the lead, Raikkonen looked for any possible way around his teammate. Grosjean had caught up Vergne. Perez also pitted, having shuffled up to third in the pit stop melee.

As Vergne stacked up the Lotus teammates, his Toro Rosso’s left rear tyre fell apart as well, directly in front of Grosjean and Raikkonen. Just as the Lotus radio message telling Grosjean that Raikkonen was faster than he was broadcast on the world feed, Vergne’s tyre exploded, with bits flying into Raikkonen’s face.

Safety Car Deployed (L16):
Maldonado, Hulkenberg, Bottas, and Pic all pitted just after the SC came out, while Red Bull told Vettel to stay off the kerbs. There was some speculation that cars were cutting their tyres on kerbs, as Perez’s Friday practice delamination came from a puncture. Vettel led Rosberg, Sutil, Alonso, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Ricciardo, Perez, Webber, and Button behind the Safety Car. Di Resta, Hulkenberg, Gutierrez, Hamilton, Maldonado, Vergne, Bottas, Pic, Bianchi, Chilton, van der Garde, and Massa completed the running order then.

Despite the damage incurred, none of the affected drivers had retired. Massa pitted for the second time under the SC. On the radio, Red Bull informed Webber than they had found cuts on Vettel’s left rear during the pit stop and asked him to be careful of his left rear. It was amongst the many similar messages, keeping drivers aware.

Restart (L21):
The race restarted after the marshals swept the track as clear as possible. The field was well strung out behind Vettel, who seemed unwilling to stack everyone up until the final moment before the SC left the track. Vettel got going through Stowe, a bit earlier than expected. Rosberg had no chance to take the lead, though Webber had a go at Perez, with Button jut behind the Australian. Webber took the position around the outside, moving up to eighth.

Alonso was also pushy, looking for any way into third around Sutil. At the front, Vettel soon had more than a second over Rosberg, with Sutil another two back. Further back, Hamilton nearly made contact with Gutierrez, attempting to pass the Sauber driver on the inside.

Massa in eighteenth looked for any way around Vergne and Bottas directly ahead. Vergne went a bit wide, with Bottas following, allowing Massa to close up and take Bottas easily with DRS. Hulkenberg and Vernge pitted on L26, just after Massa’s pass on the Williams. Meanwhile, Raikkonen had closed to a half second behind Alonso in fourth.

Halfway (End L26):
Vettel led Rosberg by two and a half seconds at halfway, with Sutil, Alonso, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Ricciardo, Webber, Perez, and Button completing the top ten. Hamilton was twelfth, Massa fifteenth. Gutierrez made his second stop on L28. Only Massa, Hulkenberg, and Vergne had yet made a second stop.

Ricciardo continued to push, taking sixth from Grosjean and setting off after Raikkonen. A bit further up the track, Alonso had caught up Sutil again, looking for fourth. Meanwhile, a bit of wing sat at the entrance to Stowe after Gutierrez’s wing sort of exploded in carbon fiber bits.

Second Pit Stops Begin (L29):
Meanwhile, Raikkonen made his second stop. Gutierrez did so on the next lap, with a nose change. Alonso and Grosjean pitted on L31. Alonso’s release was very close to Grosjean entering, with the Spaniard pausing in McLaren’s nearly empty pitbox to allow Grosjean into his own box. Vettel had gained another half second on Rosberg, but was not streaking off into the distance.

Hamilton had a go on di Resta, attempting to dive down the inside of the Scotsman. He was unable to make the pass, though both were very close. Ricciardo and Button pitted on L33, with Webber having done so the lap before. Hamilton had pushed so hard on di Resta, he got caught up by Raikkonen and Alonso, who both dove through to shuffle Hamilton two spots back. Soon thereafter Webber followed suit. Just after, Sutil, di Resta, and Perez all pitted, with Force India having just enough space between the teammates to service one then the other without waiting.

Alonso continued to look for any way through on Raikkonen, but was unable to make a pass stick. Rosberg made his second stop from second position on L35. Vettel made his own second stop as L36 ended. He rejoined still in the lead. Meanwhile, Webber had slid through to take fourth from Alonso. Hamilton pitted, as did Massa, on L37. Vergne retired on that lap.

Hamilton had rejoined next to di Resta, who dove under to take the position. Hamilton went back at him, passing, only to have di Resta tae the position under DRS. They continued to dice through a number of corners, only to have di Resta seemingly keep the position. Even under DRS, Hamilton could not quite retake the Force India, despite di Resta’s damaged front wing after earlier contact with Hulkenberg. Hamilton held back for a few moments, then made his final dive to keep eleventh.

After nearly the entire field had completed their second stops, Vettel led Rosberg by nearly two and a half seconds, with Raikkonen, Webber, Alonso, Sutil, Ricciardo, Perez, Button, and Grosjean the top ten. Massa was thirteenth. Soon thereafter Button passed Grosjean for ninth. The race continued to be full of drama as Ricciardo looked for any way through on Sutil for sixth. After that scrap, the racing continued as Hamilton took ninth from Grosjean.

Second Safety Car (L42)/ 10 Laps Remaining:
In another dramatic twist of fate, Vettel slowed and cruised to a stop on the pit straight, having “lost drive, lost the gearbox.” Alonso dove into the pits for a third stop, just as the SC was announced and before it was deployed. Rosberg also pitted once he made his way back around, as did Webber, Grosjean, di Resta, and Massa.

On the radio, Raikkonen wondered why he hadn’t been called to pit, but was informed that it was “too late now” and “stick to the plan.” Under the SC, Rosberg led Raikkonen, Sutil, Ricciardo, Webber, Perez, Button, Alonso, Hamilton, and Grosjean the top ten. Massa, Maldonado, Hulkenberg, di Resta, Pic, Bottas, Bianchi, Gutierrez, Chilton, and van der Garde completed the running order.

Restart (L45 of 52):
Rosberg streaked away on the restart, with Raikkonen lagging just a bit. Di Restamoved up to eleventh as the track looked to have far more racing grooves than usual. With just seven laps remaining, drivers were looking for any way through. Alonso managed to take Button before they attained Copse. Perez lost his left rear on the straight, dropping out of sixth and to the garage and out of the race. Alonso was nearly caught out by the flying rubber. Meanwhile, Massa pushed Button. Even racier, Webber took third from Sutil. Alonso looked to pass Ricciardo, leaving Ricciardo to block. At the next turn, Alonso went to the inside and took fifth. Hamilton followed him through, dropping Ricciardo to seventh.

Webber had soon caught Raikkonen. He went to the outside of the Finn, who managed to keep the line. Through the DRS, Webber seemed ready to take second, only to have Raikkonen fight back. They went side-by-side, but the Red Bull moved up to second. Alonso dove down the inside of Sutil for fourth, with Hamilton again attempting to follow him through. He was unable to do so and tried again. Sutil managed to keep the position.

Webber seemed ready to catch up Rosberg, who was just over a second ahead, but Rosberg responded with more speed. Meanwhile, Alonso on fresh tyres had caught Raikkonen with three laps remaining. He soon slid through on Raikkonen to take the final podium position with two laps to go. Webber had managed to gain slightly on Rosberg, but he seemed unlikely to catch and pass the German with so little left in the race.

Hamilton soon took fourth from Raikkonen, the Finn’s older tyres slowly losing their grip. His teammate Grosjean pitted to retire as the final lap began. Webber had just over a second to catch Rosberg as the final lap began. He visibly decreased the distance to Rosberg by the first DRS zone. Rosberg managed to hold on to the gap to take the checkered flag first. Alonso similarly held off the charging Hamilton to maintain third.

Final Positions, 2013 British Grand Prix:

1. Nico RosbergMercedes 3
2. Mark WebberRed Bull.73
3. Fernando AlonsoFerrari7.13
4. Lewis HamiltonMercedes7.72
5. Kimi RaikkonenLotus11.22
6. Felipe MassaFerrari14.54
7. Adrian SutilForce India16.32
8. Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso16.52
9. Paul di RestaForce India17.93
10. Nico HulkenbergSauber19.73
11. Pastor MaldonadoWilliams21.12
12. Valtteri BottasWilliams25.02
13. Jenson ButtonMcLaren25.92
14. Esteban GutierrezSauber26.24
15. Charles PicCaterham31.62
16. Jules BianchiMarussia36.02
17. Max ChiltonMarussia67.62
18. Giedo van der GardeCaterham67.73
 Romain GrosjeanLotus1 Lap4
 Sergio PerezMcLaren6 Laps3
 Sebastian VettelRed Bull11 Laps2
 Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso17 Laps3

{read the entire 2012 Silverstone Grand Prix Redux here, with the quali recap also available here}

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