Fernando Alonso Gives a Master Class at a Fantastic 2011 British Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso Gives a Master Class at a Fantastic 2011 British Grand Prix
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

After an extremely poor Grand Prix weekend in Valencia, I entered the British Grand Prix feeling pretty deflated and expecting little.

What a pleasant surprise then that we were treated to a great qualifying session, followed by such an interesting race.

There was some great tension before the lights even went out as the very changeable conditions had created a situation in which half the track was wet, and the other half dry.

The grid decided to start on intermediate tyres after Sergio Perez flew straight off the track and through some advertising boards struggling with slicks on his parade lap!

The start was surprisingly clean as all of the cars seemed to pull off almost in formation. It took a few corners to realize that Sebastian Vettel had in fact passed Mark Webber straight off of the start line.

Webber may have had a slight issue as Vettel just cruised passed. Obviously the two drivers carry the same livery but with the camera angle used you really couldn’t tell at a first glance that positions had changed hands.

The big winners off the start included Paul Di Resta, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, whilst Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg struggled to make an impact.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images
A very clean start for the 2011 race in Silverstone.

After one lap, the positions were as follows:

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Paul Di Resta, Kamui Kobayashi, Pastor Maldonado, Michael Schumacher, Adrian Sutil, Nico Rosberg, Sergio Perez, Nick Heidfeld, Vitaly Petrov, Jamie Alguersuari, Sebastian Buemi, Rubens Barrichello, Timo Glock, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Jarno Trulli, Jerome D’Ambrosio, Daniel Ricciardo, Heikki Kovalainen

I’m afraid Vettel began to pull away pretty quickly, but there was some close action between Alonso, Webber, Massa, and Button.

We got our first retirement on lap two when Kovalainen had to stop after losing fourth gear.

We got our first few important overtakes at this stage as well, as Massa cruised past a struggling Button. Soon after Hamilton also easily slotted past his team mate.

Though the racing was relatively close and we did see some contact between Schumacher and Kobayashi, the significant action seemed to die down until around lap 12.

Jenson Button had been struggling, but he hoped that when he stopped for slick tyres on lap 12 that he would be able to emulate the pace of Schumacher. The Mercedes man was forced to pit after his contact with Kobayashi and was now flying on the dry tyres.

Button’s stop triggered tyre changes from Alonso, Webber, Hamilton and Vettel, but I must say very little changed with the positions.

The positions were now as follows, but as you'll see, the only real change at the front was Hamilton’s leapfrogging of Massa:

Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, Button, Di Resta, Sutil, Schumacher, Rosberg, Perez, Kobayashi, Heidfeld, Alguersuari, Maldonado, Buemi, Petrov, Barrichello, Glock, Liuzzi, D’Ambrosio, Ricciardo

After the stops I think we entered one of the better parts of the race. At this stage, the conditions seemed to favour the McLarens and both Hamilton and Button moved up very quickly to the back of the Ferraris they were following.

There was some fantastic neck-and-neck action between Massa and Button through turns 16, 17 and 18 which eventually finished in Button taking Massa’s P5. Similarly, Hamilton was able to masterfully pass Alonso going into turn one after a pretty epic battle over the previous corners.

The Red Bulls were in a world of their own at this moment, but behind them the action was enough to keep us entertained.

The race then quieted down again until around lap 23 when the McLarens seemed to lose whatever it is they had before and the Ferraris became the hunters.

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
McLaren had a good middle section of the race, but dropped off at the end.

There was a great scrap between Alonso and Hamilton but I’ve got to tell you, I felt a little short changed when the fight was finished by an easy DRS move.

Alonso was far faster than Hamilton and unquestionably would have passed him eventually, why did we need to see it done faster and less excitingly through DRS?

Hamilton pitted soon after and this marked the end of his real challenge for the win. Alonso then began putting in fantastic laps and caused everyone around him to react.

In front, Vettel had to put his foot down, and behind, Button, Massa, and Webber all pitted to try and use strategy against Alonso’s pace.

The next few laps were tense and Alonso managed to claw his way right up to the back of his Red Bull rival. It looked as if we were going to have an absolute classic pit stop race when both men pulled off into the pits together on lap 28.

It was super close but when Alonso pulled out of his pit box, I don’t think I was the only person surprised not to see Vettel speed out just in time…why?

Well, Vettel’s left rear tyre just wouldn’t go on and a terrible dose of bad luck gifted the lead to Alonso. (To be perfectly honest, it’s about time Vettel had some bad luck!)

Things went from bad to worse for Vettel when he rejoined the pack not in second, but in third behind Hamilton.

Clive Mason/Getty Images
Alonso showed us all just how great he is.

From here on in, Alonso simply schooled the rest of the back and showed us all just how great he is. The Ferrari man pulled away into the distance and effectively won the race from this stop. However, that’s not to say that there wasn’t more action to follow.

A very close fight then developed between Vettel and Hamilton. The two drivers battled each other from lap 32 to 37, but Vettel simply couldn’t find a way past.

Red Bull decided to play a strategy card as the race craft tactic was failing. Vettel pitted on lap 37 and when Hamilton reacted just one lap later we all saw why Red Bull Racing are so dominant at the moment; Vettel comfortably leapfrogged Hamilton in the stops.

We then again entered a slight lull in the action with the only significant event being the terrible British Grand Prix luck of Jenson Button.

Button pitted on lap 40 but left his pit box without having a properly fitted front right tyre. The World Champion, who has never even been on the podium at Silverstone, couldn’t even make it out of the pit lane and retired.

Now you might think that after Alonso’s comfortable stop that the race was over, right? Wrong.

Though the top step had been filled, positions 2 to 4 were still wide open and we were treated to some great last-minute action.

Hamilton may have been in P3 but when he got news over the radio that he was running out of fuel, you could almost see Webber’s face light up in P4.

The race between Webber and Hamilton wasn’t particularly special, as Webber was eventually close enough to use DRS to get through. What was exciting was the fact that Massa had now caught Hamilton, and a released Webber was able to slot up behind Vettel.

For yet another race this year we saw some fantastic last-lap action and although Vettel was able to hold on to P2, and Hamilton held P4, the battles that finished the race were enough to leave me smiling.

I think Fernando Alonso spoke the truth when he said that the Championship was effectively over in the post race interview. Vettel has finished second on every rare occasion that he hasn’t won and Red Bull now lead the Constructors’ Championship by 100 points.

However, I think if we can continue to have exciting races like the one we got today at Silverstone, the eventual Championship results won’t matter too much.

Drivers’ Championship Top Three:

Vettel 204

Webber 124

Alonso 112

Constructors’ Championship Top Three:

Red Bull 328

McLaren 218

Ferrari 164

Result:

1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari

2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault

3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault

4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes

5 Felipe Massa Ferrari

6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP

7 Sergio Perez Sauber

8 Nick Heidfeld Renault

9 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP

10 Jaime Alguersuari Torro Rosso-Ferrari

11 Adrian Sutil Force India

12 Vitaly Petrov Renault

13 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth

14 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth

15 Paul Di Resta Force India-Mercedes

16 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth

17 Jerome d'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth

18 Vitantonio Liuzzi Hispania-Cosworth

19 Daniel Ricciardo Hispania-Cosworth

RET Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes

RET Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari

RET Kamui Kobayashi Sauber

RET Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault

RET Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault

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