Archive for the ‘Mark Webber’ Category

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Webber Takes Pole in Exciting Spa Quali

August 28, 2010

Mark Webber secured yet another Red Bull pole this afternoon, when F1 returned from its four week summer break, setting a time of 1:45.778, a tenth fastest than Lewis Hamilton, who charged his way to the front row of the grid.

All 24 cars headed out onto the track for the start of Q1, with rain threatening halfway through the session. The track still hadn’t completely dried out from earlier rain, and Vitaly Petrov became a casualty to the turn 9 kerb, causing a red flag to hault the session, just 90 seconds in. Once Petrov’s Renault was removed from the side of the track, the lights turned green, but the rains soon came after the cars dived back out onto the track.

All the drivers were on the soft compound tyre as they headed out for a banker lap, and as the rain started to fall heavier, it was a case of making it round the track to set a time, without running off the road. Jarno Trulli and Lucas di Grassi touched into turn 14, and the pair spun off the track, almost collecting Michael Schumacher, while Adrian Sutil ran wide in the gravel. Schumacher then set the first time, followed by a faster lap time from Jenson Button. The rain started to get heavier, but Hamilton was charging, setting the fastest time of anybody, before they all dove back into the pits. Sebastian Vettel looked to be in danger of the dropout zone, setting the 17th fastest time just after Hamilton set his fastest time, but the German was able to restore his hopes a little while later, heading out on intermediate tyres.

As the track started to dry out the drivers started heading out onto the track on fresh slicks, leaving the McLarens in the garage. Robert Kubica topped Hamilton’s time with two minutes to go, while Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa proved it wasn’t entirely dry out on track as they both ended up in the gravel and out of contention. Nico Rosberg ended up setting the fastest lap in the 1:54s in the closing seconds of the session, leaving Trulli, Kobayashi, Bruno Senna, Sakon Yamamoto, de la Rosa, di Grassi and Petrov in the dropout zone and out of the running in 18th down to 24th.

The track continued to dry in Q2, and the 17 drivers headed out for a banker lap. Hamilton topped the time sheets, with an improved overall time from Q1 with 1:46.211, while Schumacher, Rosberg, Jaime Alguersuari, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Sebastien Buemi, Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock found themselves in the dropout zone. Schumacher receives a ten-place grid-drop penalty for his incident with Rubens Barrichello in Hungary, and will start 21st, while Rosberg will start 17th following a five-place grid-drop penalty for changing his gearbox. The bottom 14 will line up on the grid with Alguersuari 11th, Liuzzi, Buemi, Kovalainen, Glock and Trulli, 12th down to 16th, Rosberg 17th, Kobayashi, Senna and Yamamoto 18th to 20th, Schumacher 21st, and de la Rosa, di Grassi and Petrov 22nd to 24th, respectively.

Q3 saw the ten remaining drivers head out for a banker lap as the lights went green, with Hamilton in the lead, setting the fastest lap, with Felipe Massa setting second, Button third, and Fernando Alonso fourth. Kubica then made a move to set first, with Vettel snatching second, before Mark Webber scored the fastest time. Barrichello, Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg then set their fastest times, putting Alonso down to tenth.

The drivers pitted for fresh rubber, and as they started to head out onto track, it started to rain. As the track got wetter, it looked like a dead cert that Webber would take pole, with Kubica separating him from Vettel, and sure enough, Alonso crossed the line at the chequered flag unable to improve on tenth, Massa pulled into the pits before he had a chance to cross the line, after running wide earlier in the lap, and Vettel crossed the line to remain third. But, Button, who by that point was down to sixth, was able to improve in the McLaren, pulling out a time good enough for fifth, and, while despite the rain, the last man on track, Hamilton, pulled out a blinder to set a time a tenth off Webber, for second, demoting Kubica from the front row.

Kubica and Vettel make up the second row, with Button and Massa on row three. Barrichello and Sutil will start seventh and eighth, with Hulkenberg and Alonso in ninth and tenth on row five.

Webber’s pole adds to Red Bull’s string of all-but-one for the season, but with the straight-line speed of the McLaren, Hamilton will be fancying his chances through Eau Rouge at the start of tomorrow’s race.

With 20 points separating the top five drivers in the standings, there is everything to play for in tomorrow’s race. Will the weather spring its usual surprise on the drivers, and rain? And will McLaren’s straight-line speed advantage in sectors one and three give them the complete upper hand over Red Bull? We will see tomorrow. The race starts live on BBC1 at 1pm.

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Webber Takes Victory in Hungary

August 1, 2010

Mark Webber won today’s Hungarian Grand Prix, while Sebastian Vettel found himself with a drive through penalty, and pitlane chaos saw the end of the race for three drivers.

Webber got a good start, but it was Fernando Alonso who made a charge from third on the grid to split the Red Bulls, with Vettel taking an early lead. Vitaly Petrov was making moves from seventh on the grid to pass Lewis Hamilton for fifth in the second corner, but the McLaren driver dived around the outside of the Russian a lap later to reclaim his position.

Vettel began to take a second per lap out of Alonso in second, who in turn appeared to be holding up Webber, Felipe Massa and Hamilton in third down to fifth, respectively.

Jenson Button, who had started 11th, dropped back in the first corner, despite getting a good start, and soon found himself down in 15th. On lap 15, the reigning champion pitted for fresh tyres, a lap before the safety car was deployed for debris on the track.

Vettel got a late call to come into the pits, and was followed several seconds later by Alonso, Massa and Hamilton. While the two Ferraris got away with having to queue for a fresh set of tyres, the mechanics weren’t ready with Massa’s tyres, and the Brazilian found himself behind Hamilton. Webber remained on the track, behind the safety car, and for a while, there was a concern it would hinder his race.

Meanwhile, the mid-field found themselves in a scrap in the pitlane, with Nico Rosberg losing his right-rear wheel while exiting his pitbox, the wheel bouncing through the BMW Sauber pitbox. Renault tried to release Robert Kubica at the same time as Adrian Sutil was diving into his pitbox, one ahead of the Renault team. The two drivers collided, ending Sutil’s race, and resulted in a ten second stop-go penalty for Kubica. The Renault driver eventually retired.

While Vettel found himself over ten car lengths behind Webber at the restart, resulting in an eventual drive through penalty for the German, Webber found himself getting away from Vettel very early on. Hamilton retired from the race on lap 24, suffering from mechanical problems.

After Vettel took his penalty, and Webber eventually came in for his pitstop, the Australian had a gap of over 20 seconds to Alonso, and rejoined the track in the lead ahead of Alonso, and Vettel, who had managed to stay ahead of Massa after his penalty and was fighting with Alonso for second. The difficult nature of the track meant Vettel was unable to pass Alonso, but further down the field, Rubens Barrichello managed to pass Michael Schumacher, in the closing laps of the race. The Mercedes driver was then put under investigation by the stewards for pushing the Williams driver into the pitwall as he made his pass, but the Brazilian was able to make the move stick.

Webber crossed the line nearly 18 seconds ahead of Alonso, with Vettel close behind in third. Massa followed in fourth, with Petrov in fifth, his best finish of the season. Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth, ahead of Pedro de la Rosa in seventh, scoring his first points of the season. Button crossed the line in eighth, ahead of Kamui Kobayashi in ninth, and Barrichello in tenth, the last of the points-scorers.

Webber’s win elevates him in the fight for the title, putting him in the lead on 161, four points ahead of Hamilton, still on 157 after his second retirement of the season. Vettel sits third on 151, with Button fourth on 147, and Alonso fifth on 141. 20 points separate the top five, with Massa sixth on 97 points. In the constructors’ standings, Red Bull take the lead on 312 points, eight ahead of McLaren on 304, with Ferrari further behind on 238.

Formula One now takes its summer break, with a two-week factory shut down for each team over the next four weeks, with the sport returning at the end of August, with qualifying for the Belgium Grand Prix on Saturday 28th, and the race live on BBC1 on Sunday 29th August.

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Webber Wins in Silverstone, Hamilton Edges Ahead in Race for Title

July 11, 2010

Mark Webber took his third win of the season in Silverstone this afternoon, while Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finished second and fourth, respectively, a positive result in front of their home crowd, after struggling on Friday and Saturday.

The Red Bull driver had a message for his team after he crossed the line: “Not bad for a number two driver”. His message was clear: don’t rule me out yet.

Webber made a fast move off the start, squeezing up the inside of Sebastian Vettel, to quickly take the lead, while Vettel made contact with a charging Hamilton, on the move from fourth on the grid, his front-wing end-plate touching Vettel’s right-rear tyre. Vettel ran wide through Copse, but managed to hold on to Webber, as Hamilton came under pressure from Robert Kubica. Vettel then ran wide through Maggotts, which had been caused by a puncture, and from there it was damage-limitation for the pole sitter, fighting his way back through the field, as Webber kept his cool to take the win. Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, had problem after problem throughout the race, the first being a slow start off the grid, dropping back to sixth on the opening lap, and making contact with teammate Felipe Massa, that caused the Brazilian to suffer a puncture.

Massa and Vettel were forced to pit at the end of the first lap, and rejoined the track in 23rd and 24th, respectively. While the pair were unfortunate from the very beginning, up front, Hamilton maintained the gap to Webber, but the pair pulled out a 16 second gap to Kubica in third within 10 laps, and were catching Vettel by the first round of stops, looking to lap him.

On lap 13, Alonso, Rubens Barrichello, and Kamui Kobayashi pitted, while Kubica pitted a lap later. Jenson Button, who made his way up to eighth in the opening laps, stayed out longer in the first stint, making his way up to third. Hamilton pitted on lap 17, from second, and retained his position exiting the pits just ahead of Button who still had to stop. Webber was next to pit a lap later, maintaining the lead on his exit from the pitlane. Button then finally pitted on lap 22, and rejoined in sixth, ultimately gaining two positions.

At the same time as Hamilton pitted for the harder compound tyre, Alonso was busy trying to make a move on Kubica. While trying to avoid a collision, Alonso cut a corner, but refused to give the position back, gaining from the move. Within laps, Kubica retired from the race, but Alonso still received a drive-through penalty for not giving the position back. Within two laps of Alonso receiving the penalty on lap 27, the safety car was deployed, and he was unable to take the penalty until after the safety car came back in.

On lap 30, the race restarted and Alonso peeled into the pits to take his drive through, and found himself towards the back of the pack.

From then on, Webber had control of the race, while Vettel used the safety car to his advantage to make up some places in the closing laps. He passed Massa first on lap 33 for 12th, and by the penultimate lap he was still hunting Adrian Sutil for seventh. He finally made his move stick into turn 14, to finish the race seventh, making up a lot of ground after his disasterous start.

Webber and Hamilton crossed the line 20 seconds ahead of Rosberg in fourth, and Button in fifth. Barrichello scored his highest finish of the season in fifth, with Kobayashi in sixth, Vettel seventh, Sutil eighth, Michael Schumacher ninth, and Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the points-scorers in tenth.

In the drivers’ championship standings, Hamilton edges forward on 145 points, with Button retaining second on 133. Webber leapfrogs Vettel to sit on 128, with Vettel on 121. Alonso stays on 98 points, failing to score after finishing 14th, while Rosberg edges forward on 90 points. ┬áKubica, who retired on lap 20, remains on 83, while Massa remains on 67 points after finishing down in 15th.

In the constructors’ standings, McLaren edge forward on 278, while Red Bull sit on 249. Ferrari are beginning to fall behind on 165, with Mercedes on 126.

For Webber, victory was sweet this afternoon, after he was left fuming yesterday when the Red Bull team switched his front-wing update back to the old one, after Vettel’s broke in Practice three. The German was given the sole remaining updated wing because he sat ahead of Webber in the standings, meaning Webber had to go with the old version. Webber’s message for his team was clear after the race though, telling them over the radio his victory wasn’t bad for the number two driver. So it looks like it’s now advantage Webber heading into Vettel’s home Grand Prix in two weeks, as he sits ahead of Vettel in the drivers’ standings.

Qualifying for the German Grand Prix is on Saturday 23rd, with the race live on BBC1 on Sunday 24th July.

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Webber on Pole in Turkey, While Hamilton Splits Red Bulls

May 29, 2010

Mark Webber made it a hat trick of poles in qualifying for tomorrow’s Turkish Grand Prix, this afternoon, while Lewis Hamilton completed the front row, splitting Webber from his Red Bull teammate.

Sebastian Vettel had been fastest in both Q1 and Q2, but lost out when it mattered, finishing third, four tenths behind Webber who set a time of 1:26.295 for pole.

Hamilton looked like he was going to be the one to end Red Bull’s run of six consecutive poles, but found himself a tenth off Webber’s time when he crossed the line for the final time.

Hamilton’s teammate, Jenson Button, who starts fourth in tomorrow’s race, had been on his final hot lap, when Michael Schumacher, who starts fifth, crashed out at turn eight, after the clock had stopped, bringing out the yellow flags, meaning Button had to lift off the power, seeing the end of his session.

Schumacher’s teammate Nico Rosberg will start the race from sixth, ahead of Robert Kubica in seventh, Felipe Massa in eighth, Vitaly Petrov ninth, and Kamui Kobayashi in tenth.

Fernando Alonso struggled in the Ferrari, getting out of shape on his final lap and missing out on the top ten shoot-out, down in 12th.

Adrian Sutil starts just ahead of the Ferrari driver in 11th, with Pedro de la Rosa in 13th, Sebastien Buemi 14th, Rubens Barrichello 15th, Jaime Alguersuari 16th, Nico Hulkenberg 17th, Vitantonio Liuzzi 18th, Jarno Trulli 19th, Heikki Kovalainen 20th, Timo Glock 21st, Bruno Senna 22nd, Lucas di Grassi 23rd and Karun Chandhok down in 24th.

The race starts tomorrow, live on BBC1 at 1pm.

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Webber Leads Red Bull 1-2 in Monaco to Lead the Championship

May 16, 2010

Mark Webber won his second race in succession in Monaco this afternoon, leading teammate Sebastian Vettel over the line for a Red Bull one-two, to sit joint first in the fight for the drivers’ title.

The race was full of safety cars, with the first deployed on the first lap, when Nico Hulkenberg crashed in the tunnel, and with the last deployed just laps from the end, when Jarno Trulli and Karun Chandhok collided in the second to last corner.

The safety car came in on the very last lap, leaving Webber to race to the line ahead of Vettel, Robert Kubica, Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton, with Michael Schumacher controversially passing Fernando Alonso for sixth having just passed the safety car line, a move that was then under scrutiny in the stewards’ office.

The race got off to a safe start, with Webber holding on to his pole position, while teammate Vettel launched himself past Kubica for second. Massa and Hamilton held on to fourth and fifth respectively, while Rubens Barrichello made a move for sixth, up the inside of Schumacher and Nico Rosberg. Schumacher had passed his teammate off the start, but lost out to Barrichello, down to seventh, with Rosberg down to eighth. Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi found themselves up in ninth and tenth, while Jenson Button fell back to 11th. Fernando Alonso joined the back of the pack after starting from the pitlane, after his crash in FP3 on Saturday morning left him unable to qualify.

All 24 cars made their way safely round turn one, and held it together round the following turns, until Hulkenberg crashed coming out of the tunnel, calling for the first safety car of the race. Button became the next casualty, stopping at Sainte Devote with a cooked engine, caused by a bung left in the car before the start of the race.

The safety car came in and by lap eight, Webber led Vettel, from Kubica, Massa and Hamilton, while Alonso, who had stopped to change his super soft tyres for medium compounds on the first lap under the safety car, began making a move through the pack, fighting Lucas di Grassi for 19th. By lap ten, Alonso was getting angry, shaking his fist at di Grassi into turn three, and by the time the two made the tunnel, di Grassi found himself getting out of shape, gifting the position to Alonso. A lap later, Alonso was seen shooting past Trulli’s Lotus through the tunnel for 18th, and by lap 14 he found himself on the back of Timo Glock, and used his usual spot to pass the Virgin driver for 17th. By lap 17, Heikki Kovalainen was the next driver to lose out to the charging Ferrari.

McLaren chose lap 17 to pit their remaining driver, switching Hamilton from the super soft tyres to the medium compound, after realising if they waited any longer to pit they may have found themselves behind Alonso. Hamilton fed back out ahead of the Ferrari, and the rest of the front-runners then decided to take McLaren’s lead, peeling into the pits one by one. Massa and Schumacher were next, with Massa exiting the pits to take 11th, ahead of Jaime Alguersuari and the previously-pitted Hamilton. Schumacher meanwhile managed to leapfrog Barrichello, tucking back in, in 14th behind Hamilton and Alonso.

On lap 22, Kubica pitted from third and rejoined the track in fifth, while Vettel pitted a lap later from second, rejoining the track in third behind Rosberg. Webber came in at the end of lap 23, and retained his lead as he headed back out onto the track, just ahead of Rosberg. Meanwhile, the Mercedes team chose to keep Rosberg out in the hope they would get him past Webber, but after following in the dirty air of the Red Bull, Rosberg found himself losing time and after pitting on lap 29, he found himself behind his teammate, down in eighth.

Barrichello’s crash at turn three on lap 32 saw the second safety car of the afternoon. An angry Barrichello threw his steering wheel out of his cockpit, and seconds later, it ended up under one of the HRTs. The safety car remained on track for two laps, but by lap 44 it was back out again after a drain cover came loose. The problem was soon resolved and by lap 46 Webber was once again left to pull out a lead, with Vettel, Kubica, Massa, Hamilton, Alonso, Schumacher, Rosberg, Sutil and Liuzzi making up the top ten.

It almost looked like that was it, with Webber leading the way, but with just four laps to go, Trulli and Chandhok collided in the penultimate corner, with the former launching over the latter’s cockpit, narrowly missing his head. The safety car was once again deployed, and when the track was cleared on the final lap, the safety car came in, leaving Webber to race through the last corner to the chequered flag. While the top five remained as they had been for the duration of the race, Schumacher was left making a last minute pass on Alonso for sixth, with the latter taking seventh, ahead of Rosberg in eighth, Sutil in ninth and Liuzzi tenth, with Sebastien Buemi 11th, Alguersuari 12th, and Vitaly Petrov in 13th, five laps down and last.

As well as Hulkenberg, Barrichello, Trulli and Chandhok crashing out of the race, and Button suffering from an overheated McLaren, Pedro de la Rosa, Glock, di Grassi, Kobayashi, Bruno Senna and Kovalainen, all retired from the race for various reasons.

Webber’s win puts him in the lead of the drivers’ championship on 78 points, with two wins to Vettel’s 78 points and win in Malaysia. Alonso keeps the Red Bull pair honest on 73 points, with Button just behind on 70. The rest of the pack are beginning to trail, with Massa on 61 points, and Kubica and Hamilton on 59, with and Rosberg just behind on 54, while Schumacher trails even further behind on 30. In the constructor’s championship, Red Bull lead the way on 156 points, to Ferrari on 134 and McLaren on 129.

The next race is in two weeks time, with qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix on Saturday 29th May, and the race live on BBC1 at 1pm on Sunday 30th.

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Red Bull Take 6th Pole of the Season in Monaco

May 15, 2010

Mark Webber snatched the fastest time in Monte Carlo this afternoon, in qualifying for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix, giving him back-to-back pole positions and Red Bull their sixth pole of the season.

Monaco provides the shortest lap on the F1 calendar and when it looked like Robert Kubica was going to put an end to Red Bull’s reign on top of the qualifying time sheets, Webber sprung up to snatch the top spot by three tenths of a second, lapping the circuit in 1:13.826.

Kubica had been running fastest throughout Q3 through the narrow streets of Monte Carlo, with Lewis Hamilton in second, until Webber popped up to go fastest. Despite slowing down Jenson Button, Felipe Massa put in a time quick enough for third, only to have it snatched by Sebastian Vettel at the end of the session, and he will start from fourth.

Nico Rosberg, who was fastest in Q2, will start sixth, behind Lewis Hamilton, with teammate Michael Schumacher in seventh, Button down in eighth, struggling on the super soft tyres, Rubens Barrichello in ninth and Vitantonio Liuzzi in tenth.

The rest of the pack is as expected, however, after a heavy crash in FP3 for Fernando Alonso, which cracked the chassis of his Ferrari, the Spaniard was unable to participate in qualifying and will start tomorrow’s race from the pitlane. Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock, Lucas di Grassi, Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok all dropped out at the end of Q1, and will start 18th down to 23rd, respectively.

Q2 ran as expected as well. Traffic was heavy, and Vitaly Petrov, who will start the race in 14th, ended his session with three minutes to go in the barrier at Sainte Devote. Nico Hulkenberg came close to making Q3, and will start 11th, ahead of Adrian Sutil in 12th and Sebastien Buemi in 13th. Pedro de la Rosa, who left the track to allow Button through on his hot lap, earlier in the session, will start 15th, with Kamui Kobayashi and Jaime Alguersuari 16th and 17th.

Webber will start from pole for the second race in succession, and will be hoping to take an early lead to claim back-to-back victories, while Kubica will line up alongside the Red Bull on the front row, hoping to steal back what Webber snatched off him in qualifying. Vettel and Massa will be the ones to watch out for from the second row.

Monaco is a tough circuit for overtaking, so the start of tomorrow’s race will be vital to the drivers. Red Bull are proving at each qualifying session that they are the team to beat on sheer pace, but with the Ferraris on fire in Thursday’s practice sessions, Felipe Massa could be a contender in the race. It was a poor session for the McLarens, with Hamilton driving his MP4-25 by the scruff of the neck throughout Q3, but unable to improve on fifth, and after his puncture in Spain, the team will be hoping to pull something out of the bag tomorrow.

The race begins on BBC1 at 1pm.

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Webber Wins in Spain, While Puncture Robs Hamilton of Second

May 9, 2010

Mark Webber became the first driver to turn pole into a win in 2010, in this afternoon’s Spanish Grand Prix, while McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton suffered a front-left puncture with just two laps to go, and Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel came close to suffering brake failure.

The top six made a clean getaway off the start line, and it was Fernando Alonso who attempted to make the first overtaking manoeuvre of the race on Lewis Hamilton, with the latter holding on to third, catapulting himself down the pitstraight, attacking pole sitter Webber and second-placed Sebastian Vettel. By the end of the first lap, Webber had the lead over Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso, with Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher also retaining their starting positions.

Nico Rosberg was the driver who lost out in the opening corners, running wide onto the grass and dropping down from eighth to eleventh, with seventh place starter Robert Kubica also heading backwards through the pack, losing three places to Felipe Massa, up from ninth, Adrian Sutil, up from 11th and Jaime Alguersuari on the attack from 16th. Kubica found himself in 10th, with Rosberg 11th, and Rubens Barrichello up to 12th from 17th, with Pedro de la Rosa falling back with a puncture, Nico Hulkenberg holding on to 13th, and Kamui Kobayashi, Sebastien Buemi and Vitantonio Liuzzi all moving backwards.

The top twelve stayed where they were until the first round of pitstops, with Schumacher and Massa the first to pit from the front runners on lap 15. Rosberg came in next, but had to be pushed back into his pitbox after his front-right wheel started smoking.

On lap 17, Vettel pitted, losing two seconds in a fairly slow stop. Alonso was next in, followed by Button, whose mechanics had a problem with the wheel nuts, costing him fifth place to Schumacher.

On lap 18, Webber was the next to pit, with Hamilton following close behind. While Webber rejoined in the lead, Hamilton found himself fighting with Vettel into turn one, with the latter having to run wide through turn two after the back marker of di Grassi got in the way. Vettel’s trip off the track cost him second to Hamilton.

During the laps that followed, the action was between Schumacher and Button in their fight for fifth, and after the pair lapped Karun Chandhok on lap 25, Massa, who was following the pair past the HRT driver in the last few corners, found himself dislodging his wing following contact.

From then on, the race was Webber’s to lose, and while the Red Bull driver continued to pull out a gap to Hamilton, Vettel found himself running wide into turns seven and eight on lap 54, after problems with his front right tyre. The Red Bull driver was forced to pit, gifting third to Alonso, but managing to keep fourth from the clutches of Schumacher.

In the laps that followed, Vettel was repeatedly told to slow down after it became apparent he was suffering with brake failure, but on lap 65, it was Hamilton who was dealt the heavy blow, suffering a front-left puncture into turn three, seeing the end to his race, and waving goodbye to a possible 18 points to move him to within just a point of championship leader Button.

Hamilton said after the incident: “These things happen, I don’t know what it was. This is motor racing and you just have to keep your chin up and look forward.”

It wasn’t to be for Hamilton, and just over a lap later, Webber crossed the line to take his first win of the season, with Alonso finishing second in front of his home crowd. Vettel took the final podium position, nursing the sister Red Bull into third. Schumacher scores his highest finish of the season, in fourth, with Button settling for fifth, unable to get past the Mercedes driver. Massa, despite his broken front wing, was able to put in some faster laps following contact with Chandhok, to finish in sixth, holding on to the back of Button. Sutil finished seventh for Force India, with Kubica eighth, Barrichello ninth and Alguersuari taking the last point in tenth.

Button retains his lead in the championship, heading into next weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix with 70 points, with Alonso just behind on 67. Vettel’s podium finish sees him in third on 60 points, with Webber in fourth on 53, and Kubica fifth on 50. Massa and Hamilton both hold sixth in the standings together, on 49 points each, but with 21 points separating them from Button, the 2008 rivals have some catching up to do in the coming races to hold on to their title hopes.

In the constructors’ standings, Hamilton’s retirement means McLaren are now only three points ahead of Ferrari on 119 and 116 respectively. Red Bull are close behind on 113.

After a three week gap between China and Spain, the next race is just days away, in Monaco next weekend. Free practice will be held on Thursday, instead of Friday, with qualifying on Saturday 15th May, and the race live on BBC1 at 1pm on Sunday 16th.