• German GP

Webber takes maiden victory at Nurburgring

ESPNF1 Staff
July 12, 2009
Webber celebrates his first win © Sutton Images

Mark Webber overcame a drive-through penalty at the German Grand Prix to record his first Formula One victory, outclassing team-mate Sebastian Vettel in second. The Brawns were not in contention as Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello struggled on three-stop strategies, finishing fifth and sixth respectively behind Felipe Massa's Ferrari and Nico Rosberg's Williams.

It was not a straightforward victory for Webber as the start saw fellow front-row starter Barrichello pull alongside the Red Bull on the run to turn one. Webber moved to his right and made light contact with the Brawn. It looked like a racing incident but a few laps later the team were informed that Webber, running second at the time to Barrichello, must take a drive-through penalty for his actions.

A little good fortune would come to his aid, however, as Barrichello made his stop and found himself stuck behind Massa who was running a long first stint and therefore relatively heavy on fuel. This allowed Webber to lap quickly at the front of the field ahead of his own first stop.

Webber's impressive pace allowed him to exit the pits close behind Barrichello and ahead of Button and, when it became apparent that the Brawns were three-stopping both drivers, Webber knew the race was his for the taking.

"It's an incredible day," Webber said. "I wanted to win so badly after Silverstone, as I thought I had a good chance there, then after yesterday's pole I knew I was in a good position to try and win the race today.

"It was a difficult winter, Sebastian showed in winter testing what the car could do, so that kept my motivation very high when I was hurting a lot with all the rehab," he continued with reference to his cycling accident that left him with a badly broken leg ahead of the season. "I had great people around me to recover from all the injuries I had and the team have been incredibly patient with me as well.

"It's just an incredible day for all the people who have helped me get to where I am today."

While Webber celebrates his well deserved first victory, team-mate Vettel took second position having recovered from a poor start. The one-two result moves the British Grand Prix winner second in the championship with Webber now up to third. Barrichello drops to fourth position while Button's advantage at the head of the field is trimmed down to a still considerable 21 points with eight rounds remaining.

Felipe Massa finished third in his Ferrari after another canny tactical drive with a long first stint. The Brazilian finished six seconds behind Vettel and five seconds ahead of Nico Rosberg. The Williams driver made the best of a fast start and strategy to secure points for his team once again, gaining 11 positions during the race.

Button vaulted Barrichello in the final round of stops to finish in fifth position with his Brawn team-mate taking the chequered flag less than a second behind. However it is clear that the team's early season performance advantage has been eroded and now surpassed by the Red Bull team.

The BGP 001 did not have particularly good race pace despite the rather odd three-stop strategy and the team will be looking ahead to the scheduled aerodynamic enhancements that should come on stream for the next grand prix in Hungary. Brawn still lead the constructors' championship but the gap to Red Bull has now been trimmed down to 19.5 points and the latter now has momentum on their side. To make matters worse, Barrichello is clearly unhappy with the team's performance and made his feeling clearly known to the media and general public with a surprising post-race outburst.

Fernando Alonso spun his R29 on the parade lap as he tried to warm the tyres but started 12th as planned and finished seventh in his Renault after a low-key start to the race followed by a very impressive second and third stint. The double world champion chased and hounded the Brawn pair over the final laps but could not find a way to pass. Team-mate Nelson Piquet finished 13th.

Heikki Kovalainen took the final point on what was a disappointing day for the McLaren Mercedes team. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton made a very fast start from fifth position on the grid and looked to be challenging for the lead into the first turn. Sadly for the defending champion, his eagerness to make up ground from the outset saw his McLaren clip Webber's Red Bull, puncturing the right rear tyre in the process.

Hamilton subsequently pitted for a fresh set of tyres and then ran at the back of the field to the chequered flag. Kovalainen also made a good start and ran as high as third in the opening stint. However, his MP4-24, which does not feature all of the updates enjoyed by Hamilton this weekend, was off the pace of the front runners and the Finn slipped down the order as the race progressed.

Kovalainen was forced to fight very hard for the final point and to his credit, made no mistakes to take the chequered flag ahead of Toyota racer Timo Glock who had started the race from the pitlane.

Nick Heidfeld finished tenth in the leading BMW Sauber with team-mate Robert Kubica back in 14th, while Giancarlo Fisichella ran well in his Force India to finish 11th. While the Silverstone-based team will be happy with Fisichella's performance, they will be most disappointed to see Adrian Sutil well out of the top ten after a terrific drive.