Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG Petronas
Mercedes triumph as gearbox problem forces Vettel to retire from lead
Sun 30.06.13, 5:05PM
Nico Rosberg took his second win of the season at a British Grand Prix defined by a catalogue of tyre failures a late-race gearbox problem that dumped championship leader Sebastian Vettel of the race while leading comfortably.
At the start Rosberg, who had qualified on the front row behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton, lost position to Vettel and dropped to third place.
The order at the front remained that way until lap seven when leader Hamilton’s rear left tyre suddenly exploded, leaving the home favourite limping back to the pits. It looked like an unfortunate accident but three laps later Ferrari’s Felipe Massa suffered an identical problem at Turn 5. He too crawled back to pit lane for repairs.
The race then settled down as the drivers worked their way through their first stops. On lap 24, however, the drama began again as another rear left failure struck, with Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Verge the victim, this time on the straight after Stowe. The Safety Car was deployed to clear debris and engineers up and down the pit lane radioed through to their drivers warning them to stay off the kerbs in turns four and five.
The Safety Car period was a huge boost for Mark Webber. The Red Bull Racing driver made a poor start from fourth on the grid and then collided with Lotus’ Romain Grosjean in Turn One. The incidents dropped the Aussie back to 14th.
From there he began to stage a typically pugnacious fight back and by the time of Vergne’s puncture he was ninth. And when the intervention of the Safety Car erased the gaps to rivals ahead, Webber could begin to contemplate an assault on the higher positions.
The Safety Car left the track at the end of lap 21 and at the front Vettel resumed his lead of the race, with Rosberg chasing. Vettel stretched the gap to three seconds but Rosberg managed to halt the damage there and soon the margin began to stabilise.
Then, after Vettel’s second pit stop, the gap suddenly disappeared. Vettel’s RB9 cruised to a halt on the pit straight on lap 42, with the title leader telling his pit wall there was “no drive”. Rosberg swept through to take the lead.
Webber, meanwhile, was surging through the field. Having battled past Grosjean and then stolen P6 from compatriot Daniel Ricciardo, he skipped ahead in the second stops and by the time of Vettel’s retirement the Australian was up to fourth behind Kimi Raikkonen.
With Vettel’s car stopped on the pit straight the Safety Car was again deployed and the Red Bull pit wall reacted by pitting Webber for new medium tyres. Rosberg stopped for fresh hard tyres.
Rosberg maintained his lead but Webber dropped to fifth. However, when the safety car left the track, Webber, armed with new tyres, made a charge. Ricciardo, Sutil and Raikkonen, all on worn tyres, were dismissed in short order and he set about reeling in Rosberg.
Webber got to within a second of the German on the final lap but Rosberg was able to keep the Red Bull driver at bay to take his second win of the season.
“It’s a very, very special day and I think what makes it more special is that our factory is so close, and our team has done such a fantastic job to come through during the season,” said Rosberg on the podium. “We have such momentum going at the moment,