Skip to main content

Rosberg negotiates tire chaos to win British Grand Prix

updated 1:35 PM EDT, Sun June 30, 2013
Lewis Hamilton was on pole and the Briton made the perfect start as he streaked away from Sebastian Vettel. Lewis Hamilton was on pole and the Briton made the perfect start as he streaked away from Sebastian Vettel.
HIDE CAPTION
Go! Go! Go!
Wonder of Webber
Hamilton hopeful
Hamilton punctures
Shredding rubber
Vettel retires
Hamilton recovery
Champagne moment
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nico Rosberg wins British Grand Prix for first time
  • Mark Webber fights back from poor start to take seccond
  • Ferrari's Fernando Alonso finished third
  • Championship leader Sebastian Vettel retires due to gearbox problems

(CNN) -- Earlier this month Formula One's governing body punished Pirelli and Mercedes for holding an unsanctioned tire test -- at the British Grand Prix it was Pirelli meting out punishment to the elite racing series.

British home hope Lewis Hamilton lost the lead when the left-rear tire of his Mercedes began to unravel on the eighth lap at the demanding Silverstone circuit.

It was the first of four incidents as Ferrari's Felipe Massa, Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and McLaren's Sergio Perez also had their races ruined by failures to the exact same tire.

Hamilton -- and the 130,000 British fans who streamed into Silverstone to support the 2008 world champion -- were left counting the cost more than most.

Read: Hamilton produces scintillating lap to claim pole

Formula One season off to a racing start
Engines on, Formula 1 returns!
Who is the greatest F1 driver ever?
F1 champ Sebastian Vettel talks to CNN

His problem handed Sebastian Vettel the race lead and Red Bull's defending world champion marched ominously towards the checkered flag.

But there was a final twist -- and a dash of retribution for Mercedes -- as Vettel's Red Bull ground to a halt with 10 laps to go.

"We had a gearbox issue," said the German, who now leads the championship by 21 points from Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

"Fifth gear broke and it was not possible to carry on. It was quite disappointing to stop and retire."

The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg inherited the lead from Vettel and the German, who celebrated his 28th birthday this weekend, raced to his first British GP victory and second of the season.

"When Seb stopped, I won't lie, I wasn't disappointed," smiled Rosberg, winner of the Monaco GP. "I definitely feel sorry for the British fans as it would have been a great ace for Lewis.

"But there were too many tire failures today and they need to look into that."

Mark Webber, who announced he was retiring from the sport at the end of the year, recovered from a dismal start to claim a brilliant second in his last-ever F1 race on British soil.

"The start was a big negative for us and then [Romain] Grosjean touched my front wing at Turn One and the race reset from there," Webber explained.

"I pushed very hard to do the business and in the end it was a very, very good result. It's been a real highlight for me to race at this circuit."

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso followed the Australian home and the Spaniard said he considered himself "lucky" to have avoided the tire issues that hit other drivers.

"It was a lucky race for us," said Alonso. "We recovered some points but we need to raise our game as our pace is not good enough."

There was some world-class racing in the final laps.

Hamilton fought his way back through the field to finish fourth ahead of Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, who is nine points ahead of the Briton in the championship.

Rosberg reprimand

But regardless of the driving drama, tire failures dominated the fall-out from the British race --- even Vettel's first retirement in 12 months seemed to dip under the radar.

In the immediate aftermath of the race, Pirelli responded to serious safety concerns as the drivers questioned whether they were pushing themselves and their cars to the limit in safe conditions.

"Someone could've crashed," said Hamilton. "I was thinking behind the safety car that it's only when someone gets hurt that something will be done about it."

Read: Silent heroes of the F1 circus

Massa, who was running in fourth before his tire failure, added: "What happened is unacceptable.

"It was very dangerous for all of the 22 drivers racing. In order for us to race we cannot have these problems. They need to do something for our safety."

In a short media conference after the race, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery explained: "Today wasn't foreseen. We've seen a different type of problem.

"We are still doing our analysis so we have to go away and understand what's happened and get to the core of the issue. We take these things seriously. It was one tire, the left rear. When we have the answer we'll let you know."

Pirelli had wanted to introduce a new tire construction at the Canadian Grand Prix earlier this month but failed to get all the teams to agree to the change at a meeting in Monaco.

The weakness of the tires had been masked in Montreal but the high-speed nature of the Silverstone circuit in the heart of England brutally exposed their frailties.

"Pirelli appeared to come up with a solution with a different construction and that was being offered from Montreal," said Red Bull's chief technical officer Adrian Newey.

"Two or three teams vetoed that because they were worried it would suit other teams more than them and because of that short-sightedness we have F1 putting on the worrying performance it did today and concerns over driver safety."

The sport's governing body, the FIA, are coming under pressure to force through a change in tires with or without the consent of the teams.

As a result, the issue is due to be on the agenda at a meeting of the Sporting Working Committee on Wednesday ahead of the German Grand Prix with Pirelli invited to attend by the FIA.

Later Sunday Rosberg was subsequently handed a reprimand after the race for failing to reduce his speed under yellow flags, which are waved to warn drivers to slow down, but no further sanction was imposed.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Track the buzz of the 2014 Formula One season, race by race, with all the latest social reaction from motorsport experts.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Formula One is not likely to go hungry in Hungary as master chefs cater in volume for drivers, teams and VIP guests.
updated 10:43 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
It's the elephant in the room of Formula One. What's the prognosis legendary driver Michael Schumacher?
updated 7:10 PM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
It stimulates all five senses, creating an unparalleled experience for drivers and fans alike. Take a tour of Monaco with Mark Webber.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014
To be a champion you must win a title -- but to become an F1 legend you must win races at Monaco, the calendar's most testing circuit.
updated 10:59 AM EDT, Wed May 21, 2014
Caterham F1 reserve driver Alexander Rossi takes you on a tour of the Monaco racing circuit.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
The Formula One driver transcended his sport and even 20 years after his death, Ayrton Senna commands the adoration of fans worldwide.
updated 11:00 AM EDT, Thu May 1, 2014
TO GO WITH AFP STORY IN ARABIC BY SUHEIL HOWAYEK: (FILES) Brazilian F1 driver Ayrton Senna adjusts his rear view mirror in the pits 01 May 1994 before the start of the San Marino Grand Prix. Senna died after crashing in the seventh lap. Some 45 drivers, including Senna and Canadian Gilles Villeneuve, have been killed during Formula One races whose tracks are dubbed by some as the 'circuits of death.' AFP PHOTO/JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU (Photo credit should read JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
F1's greatest racer was killed during the San Marino Grand Prix on May 1 1994. The sport hasn't been the same since.
updated 11:16 AM EDT, Wed April 30, 2014
Just four F1 drivers turned up to Roland Ratzenberger's funeral after his death during qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix on April 30 1994.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Fri April 25, 2014
For a championship with a distinctly Iberian streak, it is no surprise that South America should be high on MotoGP's list of territories to conquer.
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Susie Wolff, pictured, will become the Formula One's first female competitor in 20 years when she takes part in the first practice sessions at the British and German grands prix in July.
Too weak. Can't handle the pressure. Susie Wolff has heard it all -- but she is determined to become the first female F1 driver in 20 years.
CNN's Amanda Davies visits the headquarters of Mercedes, the dominant team in Formula One this season.
ADVERTISEMENT