Webber claims breakthrough F1 victory

Mark Webber celebrates after clinching his maiden victory in 130 races, a record for a first-time winner.
Mark Webber recovered from a disastrous start to claim his first victory in Formula One, winning the German Grand Prix on Sunday in a second successive 1-2 for his Red Bull team.

The Australian, who started from pole for the first time in his eight-year career, was given a drive-through penalty after bashing into Rubens Barrichello to stop the Brawn driver from edging past him on the opening lap. His Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel claimed second place in his home race to cut the gap on world championship leader Jenson Button to 21 points. Button hung onto fifth place despite the tires of his Brawn deteriorating in the closing laps, with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa taking third place and Nico Rosberg of Williams in fourth. The 32-year-old Webber moved up into third place overall, 22.5 points behind British driver Button and 1.5 points behind Vettel. It was Webber’s first victory in 130 races on the circuit — no other driver has taken so many races for a maiden win — and came after an action-packed first lap in which world champion Lewis Hamilton suffered a punctured tire after hitting the pole sitter’s car.

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Hamilton eventually ended up in 18th place in his McLaren to continue a miserable season, despite having impressed in qualifying after his car was significantly upgraded. Webber finished a comfortable 9.252 seconds ahead of Vettel despite having to spend extra time in the pit lanes due to his early indiscretion. It represents a remarkable recovery for Webber, who last November suffered a broken leg and shoulder when he was hit by a car while cycling in a charity event. “It’s an incredible day for me. I wanted to win so badly,” said Webber, the first Australian to win in F1 since Alan Jones in 1981 in Las Vegas, and only the third after Jack Brabham. “The only thing I thought would beat me, or test me, would be the rain — but that held off. But it’s a great day for me. The team have been incredibly patient with me, and I want to thank them and (owner) Dietrich (Mateschitz) and all the Australian people.” Vettel said he was happy with second place following his victory at Silverstone. “He was unbeatable. But I made quite a bad start. I got passed by all the KERS cars — I was passed by both McLarens and Felipe,” the 22-year-old said. “But it’s another one-two for the team, so I’m very happy. I wanted to win, but Mark did a better job in qualifying. It’s a good fight between us, so I’m looking forward to the next few races.” Massa, last year’s overall runner-up, clinched his first podium finish this season. “I’ve missed being in the top three,” the Brazilian said. “It was a fantastic race. I made a fantastic start, passing many cars, and it’s a good result. This will motivate people to keep working hard for the rest of the championship and for next year.” Barrichello, who went into the weekend with high hopes after impressing in qualifying, came home in sixth place to be fourth overall, 24 points adrift of Button. Button, who was sixth last time out at his home British Grand Prix, was almost 24 seconds off the winning time after his team struggled all weekend with the cooler conditions. Renault’s two-time former world champion Fernando Alonso was seventh while Hamilton’s McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen was eighth to claim the final points-scoring position.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who retired early, faces a stewards’ inquiry after damaging Adrian Sutil’s Force India car near the halfway stage of the 60-lap race. The German, who impressed in wet conditions in qualifying, subsequently finished down the field in 15th place. In the constructors’ championship, Brawn’s lead over Red Bull is now only 19.5 points.