German driver Nico Rosberg survived great late pressure to claim his second win of the season in yesterday’s breathless and dramatic British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Rosberg, who was 28 on Thursday, came home just seven-tenths of a second clear of second placed Australian Mark Webber of Red Bull in a furious finish to a tumultuous event.
It was the Mercedes team’s first victory in Britain since Stirling Moss won at Aintree in 1955 and Rosberg’s second in three races and third of his career.
Rosberg, who won earlier in the season in Monaco, said that it was a wonderful moment for him to win a race his father former world champion Keke never won.
“This a very special day for our team in our home race,” he said. “We are progressing all the time so it’s a very special day for me and the team today.”
“With Lewis, I feel sorry for all the British fans. It would have been a great race for Lewis here in front of his home crowd. That’s racing sometimes,” said Rosberg in a podium interview with 1996 champion Damon Hill.
However, the race was overshadowed by a dangerous spate of Pirelli tire failures, including one that blew Briton Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of a home win in the other Mercedes as he led from pole position.
In all, four drivers were hit by tire blowouts while championship leading defending triple world champion Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire his Red Bull for the first time this year after inheriting the lead.
Hamilton’s tire explosion was followed by others for Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari, Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso and Mexican Sergio Perez of McLaren in a contest that saw two Safety Car interventions.
Red Bull said they found cuts in Vettel’s tire after he had pitted while Mercedes detected the start of delamination in Rosberg’s rear left.
“We have seen something new, a different type of problem. We’re currently performing our analysis, we’ve got to go away and understand what has happened today,” Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said.
“It was one tire at the back, left rear, so we need to understand that. It’s pointless me adding anything else until we have all the facts,” he told reporters.
Webber, who fell to 15th on the opening lap, fought back to finish second in his first race since announcing he was quitting Formula One at the end of the season ahead of two-time champion Fernando Alonso in the second Ferrari and Hamilton, who stormed from the back to finish fourth despite his tire failure.
“Wonderful drive, Lewis,” said team principal Ross Brawn over the team radio at the finish. “Sorry it didn’t quite work out but well done.”
Webber, 37, who had won this race twice, said he felt happy, but also frustrated at just falling short.
“It was frustrating, but the boys did a great job,” he said. “There were a lot of issues with the tires and we were lucky and it was a clean race for us.”
Alonso closed the gap in the overall standings on Vettel, who has 132 points while the Spaniard is on 111 after eight races with the next race the German Grand Prix on Sunday.
Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 champion, finished fifth for Lotus ahead of Massa, German Adrian Sutil of Force India and rising hope Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Toro Rosso.
Briton Paul Di Resta of Force India finished ninth and German Nico Hulkenberg 10th for Sauber on an amazing day in rare British sunshine.