Mark Webber’s good record at the British Grand Prix continued on Sunday as he recovered from a poor start to finish 2nd in his final race at Silverstone, but the Australian driver has compared the race to a game of Russian Roulette after the Pirelli tires failed on five separate occasions.
Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez, Jean-Eric Vergne and Esteban Gutierrez all suffered from blowouts, making Webber thankful to have finished the race, let alone on the podium.
“What a day! I don’t think any of us expected it to unfold like this,” Webber said in a team statement. “The start was pretty bad, we have to look into that as we had had a good run of starts recently. Then I had contact with Grosjean and the wing was damaged; the boys did a great job in the stop when they changed it.”
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This incident left Webber down in P15 at the end of the first lap, but he fought back strongly to finish just 0.7 seconds behind race winner Rosberg come the checkered flag. Webber was still wary of a potential tire failure though.
“I was praying for a safety car, but not for the reason they were coming, as you knew you could be next. When you have something like that, it’s Russian Roulette; when you see that many tire issues for the fellow competitors then it’s never comforting.
“I made the most of those safety cars – and today the strategy was one of the best we’ve done. I think it worked very, very well. I worked hard to manipulate the pace when I had to and then it was Nico and I left at the end.”
Pirelli are thought to be facing a meeting with the FIA in the next few days ahead of the German Grand Prix one week today.
Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.
Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.
It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.
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“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had.
“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. The race pace is there, so our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”
The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.
Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.
“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”