Mon, Jul 13, 2009 - Page 20 News List

F1: Webber claims first Grand Prix win

NOVEL EXPERIENCE The Australian set a record for the longest gap between his debut and first win when he triumphed in his 130th Formula One start yesterday

DPA AND REUTERS , NUERBURG, GERMANY

Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia drives on his way to victory at the German Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring racetrack yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

Mark Webber overcame a drive-through penalty to claim his first Formula One win at the German Grand Prix yesterday.

The Australian was punished for an incident with Brawn GP driver Rubens Barrichello seconds after the start, but his Red Bull was the superior car on the day.

The Aussie triumphed ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari driver Felipe Massa as Red Bull earned a one, two.

Brawn’s championship leader Jenson Button had to settle for fifth place.

Red Bull have now won two races in a row and three for the season as Brawn appeared to suffer in cool conditions as in the last race in Britain where Vettel won and Webber was second.

But Button still leads the standings after nine races with 68 points. Vettel moved into second with 47 points, Webber has 45.5 and Barrichello has 44.

Webber fractured his leg in a bicycle accident in January but made a remarkable recovery to be ready for the start of the season.

There was relief all around that the conditions were dry yesterday after rain played havoc with part of the previous day’s qualifying, but the start was nonetheless tumultous.

Webber, unable to take advantage of his first career pole, briefly touched with Barrichello in the first seconds and then unintentionally sliced the right rear tire of Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren with his front wing as the Briton had a super start from fifth on the grid with the help of the power booster KERS.

That ended Hamilton’s ambitions before the first turn as he had to limp to the pits.

The world champion later considered retiring but his crew told him via team radio that he had to drive on.

Webber had to swallow the drive-through penalty which cost him valuable time, but he remained in the frame because Barrichello was held up by Massa for 11 laps until the Ferrari finally pitted on the 25th lap.

Barrichello’s hopes went up in smoke when refuelling on his second stop in the 31st lap went wrong and he had to come in once more.

Webber was untroubled up front while both Brawns had a third stop in the closing stages which allowed Vettel into second place for Red Bull’s third one-two of the campaign.

Nico Rosberg of Germany finished fourth ahead of the Brawns, ex-champ Fernando Alonso was seventh in a Renault and Heikki Kovalainen eighth in a McLaren-Mercedes.

The normally calm Webber allowed years of pent-up emotion to pour out as he took the checkered flag, bellowing his jubilation across the team radio as he won for the first time in 130 starts.

“Mark Webber, you are a Grand Prix winner. Well done, brilliant drive,” replied team boss Christian Horner once the driver had stopped screaming.

Watched by his father Alan, the Australian took a deep breath and soaked up the atmosphere as he heard his national anthem sound out for a grand prix winner for the first time since Alan Jones for Williams in Las Vegas in October 1981

“It’s an incredible day for me, I wanted to win so badly,” said Webber, who started from pole position.

The Australian set a record for the longest gap between his debut and first win.

Barrichello, the previous holder, waited 124 races before his first win.

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