Fernando Alonso produced Ferrari’s first victory of the Formula One season at the British Grand Prix on Sunday after championship leader Sebastian Vettel’s hopes were thwarted by a pit-stop blunder.
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Vettel was overtaken in the Silverstone pits by Alonso just after the halfway point when the Red Bull driver’s mechanics struggled to attach a wheel.
"I saw the problem in the pit stop with Sebastian and we were in the lead at that moment, but who knows what might have happened after that," Alonso said. "I knew it was a race to be calm — make no mistakes, to not be off the track — and with that I knew the car had enough for victory and it came."
A 27th career victory for Alonso lifted the two-time world champion to third in the standings behind Red Bull drivers Vettel and Mark Webber.
"Today it is 60 years since Ferrari won its first Grand Prix in Formula One," Alonso said. "And today we won on the same circuit with the same passion."
Vettel didn’t linger on the pit-spot issue, saying, "Ferrari beat us fair and square.
"There were little mistakes here and there,” continued the German, who has won six of the opening nine races. ”You can’t get it right all the time, but credit to Ferrari — they have been getting stronger and improving their car, so it shows we need to keep pushing hard."
There was controversy on the final lap involving Webber, who had started from the pole position.
Webber, who trails Vettel in the drivers championship by 80 points, had been ordered by the team to maintain third place and halt his pursuit of Vettel, who had jumped ahead of the Australian when they started from the front row.
Webber said he was "not fine" with the situation, disclosing that he had ignored "probably four or five" orders not to pass his teammate.
"Seb was doing his best, I was doing my best," Webber said. "I wasn’t going to crash with anyone. I try to do my best with the amount of one way conversation I was having — I was trying to do my best to pass the guy in front."
Red Bull’s bosses, though, stressed that they were trying to secure the maximum points possible for the team, which has a 110-point lead over McLaren in the constructors championship.
"I can understand Mark’s frustrations. but we cannot give away a load of points," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. "We did not want to see our drivers in the fence at some time in the last two laps, which is how it would have ended up.
"Mark is not out of the championship race, but we could not afford to risk losing points. Mark should be fine with that, he is a team player. Second and third is a very strong result."
Having qualified a season-worst 10th, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton began his surge from the start and edged Felipe Massa to finish fourth after going wheel-to-wheel with the Ferrari driver on the final lap.
"That was as close as it’s going to get," Hamilton said. "I had a good start, made some places up, but unfortunately towards end I had to save fuel. I had to give Webber his position.
"Then on the last lap they said now you can push and I was like, ‘Thanks, after I’d let him catch me up,’ but I was not giving him that position."
Hamilton is fourth in the championship, tied at 109 points with teammate Jenson Button, whose race ended on Lap 40 after exiting the pits with an unsecured front-right wheel.
"The guy on the front right lost a wheel nut and he went to get another one, but as he turned I think the lollipop man thought we were good to go," Button said. "It is very disappointing — in front of my home crowd, I was enjoying the race, my pace was good," Button said. "Hopefully we won’t have this sort of issue again. Anyone who had pace near the end had a chance of a podium and I definitely had pace."