Friday, July 5, 2013

Rosberg Wins Bizarre British Grand Prix

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

For the eighth time in 2013, 22 Formula 1 cars lined up to start a grand prix event. This time, attention turned on the popular Silverstone Circuit as the British Grand Prix would act as the stage for the world's greatest open wheel drivers. In addition to the Italian Grand Prix, the British Grand Prix has been a mainstay on the Formula 1 calendar every year since the inception of the World Championship in 1950. The 2013 edition of the grand prix would be another stand-out race at Silverstone. We have a deputed winner, a World Championship leader in trouble and a tire fiasco.

At the start, the Mercedes AMG car of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg started on the front row. On the start, it was Hamilton who used has pole-sitting grid position to take an early lead. In the second row on the starting gird, the Red Bull Racing drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were itching to break the Mercedes-Benz brigade but could not find an advantage early.

The tone of the 2013 British Grand Prix would be dominated by the unexpected failure of tires supplied by Pirelli. On lap 8, the first victim would emerge as the race leader. Lewis Hamilton's left rear slick tire had begun to disintegrate on his Mercedes race car. Able to drive his crippled car to the stops on three tires, Hamilton would drop to last in the running order. Two laps later, Felipe Massa would also suffer a similar tire issue. After three tire failures by lap 16, a safety car needed to be deployed so track crews could clean a debris littered on the Silverstone Circuit attributed to the decaying rubber. Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez were all burdened by effects of a left-rear tire problem over the course of the 52-lap race. Hamilton and Massa survived their incidents to collect top-10 finishes. On the other hand, Perez and Vergne suffered early retirements from the grand prix due to their blown Pirelli tires.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

When the race progressed after the safety car, the Red Bull-Renault of Sebastian Vettel had once again found his way to the front of a grand prix race. Having won the 2009 British Grand Prix, that victory dates back to before Vettel was ever a Formula 1 champion. In pursuit of his fourth-straight driver's title, the German was looking forward to another major points day to add to what is an impressive lead already in 2013.
Unfortunately for Sebastian Vettel on the 41st lap of the 2013 British Grand Prix, his Red Bull-Renault would suddenly stop just as the German drove past the pit entrance. For the second time in the race, a safety car needed to be called as Vettel's powerless Red Bull-Renault was in a position where it could obstruct the event.

When the final safety car period ended, Nico Rosberg found himself inheriting the lead. Behind Rosberg, the second Red Bull-Renault in the hands of two-time British Grand Prix winner Mark Webber charged furiously towards the Mercedes Formula 1 car but simply came up short. At the line of 0.7 seconds, Nico Rosberg took his third Formula 1 victory. “This is a great moment for me and our team to win in the home of motor racing at Silverstone”, said Rosberg  in post-race comment. Webber came a close second while the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso completed a quiet march from a ninth-place start to finish on the podium. Alonso's third-place finish was only a 0.6-second advantage over a resurgent Lewis Hamilton.  

Photo Credit: Pirelli Photo Service

Unfortunately for Nico Rosberg and the Mercedes AMG team, both victories this season have been tainted by protests and accusations of the team not playing by the rules. As the Monaco Grand Prix race win left competing teams alleging Mercedes AMG team unfairly benefitted from a Pirelli tire test, the post-race buzz around Silverstone had to do with a possible penalty due to a race infraction. When a local yellow flag is displayed at one corner of the race track, it was deemed Rosberg did not sufficiently slow down. While the race stewards did the discretion to levy a time penalty on Rosberg's car deleting it from even a podium position, the outcome of the incident was left with a reprimand allowing the German to keep his victory.

While the Pirelli tire issue and a potential penalty threatened to mar the race victory, Nico Rosberg relished his third Formula 1 victory (his second in three races). Rosberg's win driving a factory-based Mercedes-Benz race car is the first such accomplishment since Sir Sterling Moss won the British Grand Prix at Aintree with the Silver Arrows back in 1955.

While the German Mercedes team celebrated, the British Grand Prix was not kind to national teams. McLaren and Williams had both been accustomed to victory at Silverstone on multiple occasions in the past. For 2013, neither Formula 1 organization was successful in even placing a car within the top-10. For the Williams F1 Team, a nine-time constructors' champion, they are still without points in the 2013 championship. It has been since the 2012 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas when the Williams organization cars last scored in points-paying positions.

Following the race, the tire supplier to the Formula 1 series has been put under scrutiny. Paul Hembery, Pirelli's motorsport director, offered a statement following the grand prix stating, "There have obviously been some issues with rear-left tyre failures which we have not seen before. We are taking the situation very seriously and we are currently investigating all tyres to determine the cause as soon as possible, ahead of the next Grand Prix in Germany." The tire construction, compound and even the Formula 1 teams themselves have been the target for the investigation that quickly needs to bare results. Racing at the Nurburgring just one week after the British Grand Prix, the situation is tense for teams and drivers.

The last race for the 2013 Formula 1 series is a trip to Germany's famed Nurburgring. A race set for July 7th, Fernando Alonso is the defending German Grand Prix winner.   

2013 British Grand Prix
Formula 1
Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
3 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
4 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
5 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault
6 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
7 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
10 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
11 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
12 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
13 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
14 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
15 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault
16 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
17 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth
18 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault
19 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
20 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
21 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
22 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
22 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz

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