SPIDEY AT SILVERSTONE: WEBBER DONE HIS THING
British weather, British sport #sameguy
So much for team orders.
In 2011, Webber was ordered to stop messing around behind leader Vettel at this same track. He was forced to settle for second, when he was almost outracing his ‘senior’ partner.
This time, it was Webber on his own, battling with Championship Contender Alonso, to the death.
Red Bull settled for a 1-3, surprisingly, in an order that seems to be taking definite shape this season. The team could be a bit confused about their no. 1 and no. 2 drivers, much like McLaren have been forever.
The sellout crowd at Silverstone was hoping to wildly cheer Lewis Hamilton to a come-from-behind victory, and if all went well, it could have been a historic day for British Sports. Murray was playing Federer in the Wimbledon final, and Wiggins was holding the yellow jersey at the Tour De France. Triple-header, indeed.
With the rain smashing down onto the track on Saturday, with qualifying times going for a toss- it was maestro Alonso who showed the rest how to do it, in ridiculously dangerous conditions. One has a feeling the Spaniard is reaching his peak- the ultimate top of his racing powers- at this age, and is a much better racer than he was with Renault (double world Champion) years ago. Ferrari, though not as dominant as Renault back then, and not even close to some other cars now, seems to challenge him and bring out the best in Alonso as a driver. His skills are clearly visible, with poor Massa struggling to ever finish in the points. When the chips are down, as they’ve always been with the Red Devils for a few years, Alonso provides the only shining light at the end of a dark, inconsistently shaped tunnel.
If not Nadal this year, it’s my time
Qualifying on pole, solidifying his position at the top, he must have felt like his job was done. But Webber was right behind him, the unlikely contender once again. In 2010, both of them found themselves locked sensationally into a 3-way battle for the last 4 races going into Brazil. Webber, who started the last day of the season as the leader of the battle, slipped to 3rd by the end of it. Somehow, nobody ever felt like he was favorite, and his young brash teammate Vettel pulled off a Houdini.
This time, older and wiser, Webber seems to be playing the percentages. Two wins this season, to Alonso’s 2, they are now locked in a head-to-head battle which could last for a few more races atleast.
Alonso and Ferrari’s strategy at Silverstone was not wrong, with a 2-stop plan working for most of the race. The problem was their choice of tyres, his soft Pirellis proving to be his downfall in the final stretch of the grueling race.
With four laps left, Webber did what seemed inevitable, taking Alonso from the outside to take the lead. His tyres were never going to hold up, and once again, it was down to Alonso’s sheer strength as a driver that he managed to keep his lead for so long. Once he was passed, he was happy to settle for second, with a struggling Vettel finishing 3rd- who, for the first time in two seasons, does not look like overwhelming favorite. The kid is learning about the law of averages the hard way, as Alonso did, after his first two titles in 2005 and 2006.
Pastor Maldonado, now officially known as the stupidest driver in F1, made yet another disastrous error to almost kill a furious Sergio Perez, after almost beheading Hamilton in the last race. The way things are going, Maldonado could be labeled as F1’s Marat Safin very soon.
The Amazing Spiderman 2.0
Webber now lies just 13 points adrift in the standings, with Alonso’s lead of 20 cut down after this race. Vettel lies 29 points behind, with Red Bull easily leading the Championship standings- for once, with both their drivers finishing in the top 5 consistently. Hamilton, who has now taken over the mantle of the only Brit driver performing well enough this season (last year, it was Button), is 39 points behind after a disappointing 8th place finish at his home circuit. There was more misery for the British fans, with Murray crashing to yet another Grand Slam Final defeat. Sunday wasn’t super after all.
Or maybe it was. Red Bull Racing, a British team, won the race. Wiggins went on to win a massive time trial on Monday, cementing his place at the top for now. Maybe it is time to look beyond F1 and Football or Tennis for frustrated fans, atleast in 2012.
Next up, the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim- followed by three more races in the European circuit.
We’re not even midway through the season, folks.