SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) – Germany’s Nico Rosberg won the British Grand Prix for Mercedes yesterday after a spate of exploding tyres almost caused the race to be stopped and threw the sport into crisis.
Rosberg’s second victory in three races fell into his lap on a bright and breezy afternoon in which team mate Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of a home victory from pole position were extinguished early on in a flash of flailing rubber.
The German took the lead 11 laps from the end when the Red Bull of triple world champion and compatriot Sebastian Vettel suffered a rare mechanical breakdown and rolled to a halt.
“When Sebastian stopped, I won’t lie. I wasn’t disappointed by that one. And it was just a great race from then,” added the German, who beat Red Bull’s Mark Webber by 0.7 seconds after a thrilling last seven laps following the second safety car.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who had qualified ninth after what he said was his worst Saturday of the season, swooped in to take third place and cut Vettel’s lead to 21 points.
Vettel has 132 to the Spaniard’s 111 after eight of 19 races, with the German’s home race at the Nuerburgring next up in a week’s time.
Mercedes moved up to second in the constructors’ championship, 48 points behind Red Bull.
Webber, who started on the second row but plunged to 14th at the end of the first lap after a nightmare start, continued a run of Silverstone podium finishes dating back to 2009.
“It’s a very, very special day,” said Rosberg, who added to his Monaco win with his third career success.
“With Lewis, I feel sorry for all the British fans. It would have been a great race for Lewis here in front of his home crowd. That’s racing sometimes,” declared the German in a podium interview with 1996 champion Damon Hill.