Mark took the ninth win of his Formula One career, and his second at Silverstone, in today’s British Grand Prix. He drove a brilliant race from second on the grid to pass Fernando Alonso for the lead with five laps remaining.
“I’m over the moon,” said Mark. “I’ve had a few wins now, which is nice, but this one is taking a little while to sink in. With the team based just down the road and the Wings For Life Campaign we’ve been running here, it’s a great story.”
At the start, Mark slotted into second place and, crucially, he was using a different tyre compound to race leader Alonso. He started on the soft rubber, while Alonso was on the hard, and that would play into his hands later in the two-stop race.
“I thought Fernando was in good shape at the end of the opening stint,” says Mark. “He’d opened up a gap and I wasn’t that happy with the balance of my car. But we made a set-up adjustment at my first pitstop and I was much happier for the second and third stints. It worked in my favour to be on the hard compound at the end, when Fernando was on the soft.”
During the mid section of the race, Mark started to claw back the lost ground to Alonso. At half distance the gap was down to five seconds; by lap 40 it was down to four seconds and by lap 45 of 52 it was down to 0.5s.
“My car was very good through the middle sector,” says Mark, “and in the closing stages, once I was right with Fernando, I could see where he was struggling with his car relative to mine. By that stage, I could smell blood and I went for it.”
Mark’s move for the lead came at Brooklands, where he passed Fernando around the outside. His adopted home crowd – who’d braved terrible weather conditions for most of the weekend – immediately let out a roar of approval. Mark was never headed thereafter and crossed the line three seconds in front of Alonso to become the second double winner of 2012.
“I love racing at Silverstone,” says Mark. “I won my first race at the track in Formula Ford in ’96 and the love affair continues. It’s the only race of the year where I get to sleep in my own bed, which is beneficial. I was able to take the dogs for a run this morning, which is always a great way to start the day.”
Mark’s victory closes him to within 13 points of Alonso at the top of the world championship table, and he’s now 16 points ahead of Red Bull Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
“You’ve got to grab these wins when you can,” says Mark, “and I really wanted this. We all know how tight it is this year and the gap back to Kimi [Raikkonen] in fifth was only 10s today, which is nothing at the end of 52 laps of racing.
“I’ll enjoy this result with the team because everyone has worked incredibly hard to achieve what we have done today. But Hockenheim starts on Monday morning; that’s the nature of this business.”
Mark Webber is the Team Principal of MW Arden, a three car team in the new GP3 series supporting European Grands Prix.