There was no win or even a visit to the podium for Mark Webber in Valencia, but the fourth place result was a outstanding effort for the Australian having started from nineteenth.
On a track that is seen as being hard to pass, Webber went into the race hoping to scrape into the points. With his teammate starting on pole he also faced the prospect of dropping valuable points in the inter team Championship battle.
Instead he finished tucked up under the rear wing of Michael Schumacher in the fight for the last step on the podium.
With Vettel already in the garage after his car expired whilst leading the race, the immediate cause of his retirement was yet to be determined, Webber moved ahead in the standings of his teammate. “At the moment it’s not entirely clear what the problem was. I lost acceleration, the engine stalled and I couldn’t do anything; that was it. " was Vettel post race update.
Making the most of that misfortune was local hero Fernando Alonso who went onto to claim a unlikely race win, having started outside the top 10. He finished ahead of another ex World Champion in Kimi Raikkonen for the Lotus F1 team with Schumahcer rounding out the podium.
Schumahcer in particular benefited from the late race tangle between Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren and Pastor Maldonado in the Williams. Maldonado punted Hamilton into the wall during a aggressive overtaking move, coming back onto the circuit and making contact after being forced wide by Hamilton. Hamilton was knocked out of the race and Maldanado suffered a broken front wing and the resultant pit stop saw him drop back to tenth place by the end of the race.
Alonso was a clearly delighted driver post race, having claimed a home win and a larger lead in the Drivers Championship battle “This has been an unforgettable day for me and I can’t find the right words to express my feelings! Winning in my country is an indescribable emotion: I still remember the victory in Barcelona in 2006 and winning today in Valencia with this fantastic team, is amazing, especially when we are going through such a difficult time at the moment in Spain. It’s nice that sport and I’m thinking of the wins for the national football team and Nadal, might be able to give people something to smile about." was his reflection post race.
As he noted it was a fairly packed race for the Ferrari driver "Yesterday we didn’t make it to Q3 and today we have won: it means that we should never give up, right to the chequered flag. It’s a nice present for everyone who has come from far away, maybe even sleeping in their cars and then staying in the grandstands in this torrid heat. At the start, it was not easy to make up places and I tried to delay the braking to the maximum at Turn 4, staying on the outside. Then I started to fight my way up and, after the Safety Car, I began to think a podium could be possible. Then I attacked Grosjean and managed to pass him, although I was worried that I might have sustained some damage when we touched. After two or three corners I realised everything was alright and I relaxed. When I went into the lead after Vettel retired, we were all hoping the tyres would last to the end."
For his part Raikkonen was focused on a race win "Second place is okay but the win is what I really wanted. We didn’t quite have the pace for it today. I got a good start but I was blocked by Pastor (Maldonado) at the first right-hander and lost quite a few places which put me a bit behind. We made a good recovery from that position and had quite a hard fight with a few people - overtaking and being overtaken. I couldn’t get the tyres up to temperature quickly enough after the safety car, and I made a small mistake on the re-start lap too. I was able to fight back as we had good race pace again. Today was close but the race win was just out of reach.”
In his first return to the podium since he returned to racing Schumacher was still a surprised man post race “Wow, I did not even think of getting on the podium for any second in the race today, so what a wonderful result! Finally it happened! After such a long time waiting and for jumping on the podium so unexpectedly, I feel extra happy. I think that was the best answer to give to everybody who started doubting our work: get the car together and fight back; never give up, as anything can happen. A big thank you to the team and to everybody who kept on believing we would get on the podium again. That’s what team work is about. A special word for my mechanics and engineers who have done a fantastic job this weekend after some difficult races this year. I didn’t think a podium was possible – not even at the end of the race, because it was pretty busy in the last laps and I had lost count of where I was. Then when I crossed the line, I asked the guys where I was and they said “Third – on the podium!” It’s one of those moments that you enjoy deeply as a driver. We were close a couple of times but it was great for it to happen in a spectacular race like this, through strategy and lots of passing on a circuit where overtaking is difficult.”
Webber, who moved to second outright in the Championship, was happy to walk away with fourth place “I’m very happy with that, obviously it’s been a tough weekend up until today, but you never know what’s going to happen. In the middle of the race I wasn’t too happy and I didn’t really know what was going on. Then there was a bit of attrition at the front and the strategy worked out. We got it all working well today and we got some good points. It was a crazy day today – but I got points, so I’m happy with that.”
It was a mixed bag for the other Aussie in the field, Daiel Ricciardo who ran as high as fourth under the safety car but in the end had to settle for twelfth place just outside the points. He was lucky to make the chequered flag after heavy contact with Petrov in the Caterham in the closing stages of the race.
“The final result of the race is disappointing. I think I drove well and the team deserved better. Apart from my finish position, it was a really good race. I had a good getaway off the line, passing a couple of cars. But the opening lap was a bit of a mess and as I tried to overtake some cars down the inside, Perez got me round the outside. My first stint was strong and I was in touch with our competitors, then the second stint was also good. The Safety Car did not really work in our favour. After my second stop I was pushing to the end and I had Petrov going quite slowly in front of me, I went to get around him and he defended by going a bit wide. So I tried to switch back and I feel I gave him some racing room, but we still made contact because perhaps his move was a bit too aggressive. Anyway, that cost me a chance to get into the points, but there were some positives to take away from this race, even if they are not so visible from the outside.” was his summary of the day.
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Alonso Ferrari 1h44:16.449
2. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 6.421
3. Schumacher Mercedes + 12.639
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 13.628
5. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 19.993
6. Rosberg Mercedes + 21.176
7. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 22.866
8. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 24.653
9. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 27.777
10. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 34.653
1. Alonso 111 1. Red Bull-Renault 176
2. Webber 91 2. McLaren-Mercedes 137
3. Hamilton 88 3. Lotus-Renault 126
4. Vettel 85 4. Ferrari 122
5. Rosberg 75 5. Mercedes 92