Formula 1

Rosberg claims victory in dramatic British Grand Prix

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Nico Rosberg claimed a brilliant victory in a breathless British Grand Prix beset by tyre problems at Silverstone on Sunday.

The early part of the race was dominated by tyre failures for Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, and Jean-Eric Vergne, all of whom suffered sudden punctures which forced the safety car out onto the track. Later on the same would happen to Esteban Gutierrez and  Sergio Perez.

Rosberg managed to avoid all of the drama around him and all that was to come later in the race, holding off a late charge from Red Bull's Mark Webber who fought his way up from a disastrous start which dropped him down to 15th. 

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso claimed the final podium spot ahead of a charging Lewis Hamilton, who was forced into the pits after being one of the three victims who suffered catastrophic tyre failure early in the race.

World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who took over the lead after Hamilton's puncture on lap seven, suffered a gearbox problem and was forced into his first race retirement of the season after he ground to a halt on lap 42. 

Hamilton looked in good shape after getting off the line and into the first corner with his lead in tact, although Vettel was able to jump Rosberg into second.

Webber's final British Grand Prix looked to be over before it began as a poor start was compounded by a coming together with Romain Grosjean that dropped him down to 15th and eventually bought him into the pits for a new nose. Alonso was another whose poor start dropped him down the grid and left him with plenty of work to do.

Disaster struck for Hamilton, at that point over two seconds clear of Vettel, on lap seven as a puncture in his left rear tyre on the Wellington straight did for his hopes of winning his home race. Miraculously the Briton was able to limp back to the pits and switch on to the hard tyres in an attempt to help him salvage something from the race, although he rejoined in last place.

Massa suffered a similar fate the following lap after an electric start which took him up to 5th.

The safety car was called into action when the same happened to Torro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne. Vettel was told over the team radio to avoid the kerbs as there were "punctures all round".

The cause of the problem remained unclear as drivers and teams speculated over whether the kerbs, the tyres or debris was the problem.

The safety car backed up the field and eventually came in after lap 21 which did at least help the likes of Hamilton and Massa get back in contention for points.

Back up the front, and from the restart Vettel went early to open up an early gap from podium contenders Rosberg and Adrian Sutil.

Hamilton, seemingly with a point to prove, was at his racing best as he started to fight his way up the field and from 15th Gutierrez dealt with easily, although not before contact was almost made.

The Mercedes man and Di Resta were then locked in a battle on lap 32 and neither man gave an inch.

Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso quickly caught up with the pair in 7th and 8th and both made their way past Hamilton, who on older tyres had no answer. Not long after Webber made his way past the ailing 2008 champion, yet Rosberg was the one called into the pits first as the next round of stops began.

Webber continued his excellent recovery as he passed Alonso for fourth, and up the road Ricciardo and Sutil were battling for the final podium spot, although eventually both men would fall backwards as the big boys charged to the top in the final part of the race.

Di Resta and Hamilton resumed their battle on lap 38 and it was once again wheel-to-wheel stuff, however the Mercedes man eventually took 11th place after giving the home fans the action they craved.

The key incident of the race occurred with 20 laps remaining. Rosberg was doing his best to close the gap to Vettel at the front and got it down to just over 1.5 seconds after being told there was plenty of life left in his tyres.

The Mercedes driver may well have reeled in his countryman but up the road ahead of him Vettel hit trouble on lap 42, losing drive thanks to a gearbox problem and retiring from the race for the first time this season.

That sent the safety car out once more, prompting the likes of Webber, Rosberg and Raikkonen into the pits for what was shaping up to be a sprint finish over the last ten or so laps. Alonso followed suit but found himself down in 8th - and unfortunate consequence of the safety car emerging. 

The safety car returned to the pits and from there all hell broke loose. First Alonso went past Button for 7th, before the McLaren man dropped down the field as those on fresher tyres moved past.

Perez another tyre failure on the straight with Alonso narrowly avoiding hitting the back of the McLaren, which was eventually retired from the race.

Back at the front the action was shaping up nicely as Webber pulled off an audacious move on Raikkonen with the pair going side-by-side in the battle for 2nd. That let the Australian loose and he put in a series of quick times to narrow the gap to Rosberg, who looked to be in trouble with his tyres before the second safety car emerged to save his race.

Hamilton was another on the move and he made his way up to 5th after taking Sutil with Alonso in his sights, while the Spaniard was closing in on Raikkonen.

The Finn had earlier lamented the fact he wasn't called in for fresh tyres along with his rivals during the safety car and he was soon left rueing that decision as Alonso and then Hamilton passed him in the final few laps.

That set up a tense finish with Hamilton looking for the final podium spot and Webber hoping to claim a sensational comeback win on his last appearance at SIlverstone in an F1 car.

Both men came close to pulling off what had seemed impossible but Alonso and Rosberg held strong to keep their spots. Just 0.7 seconds separated the Red Bull man from Rosberg at the end of what ultimately proved to be a thrilling Grand Prix.

British Grand Prix Top 10:

Nico Rosberg

Mark Webber 

Fernando Alonso 

Lewis Hamilton 

Kimi Raikkonen 

Felipe Massa 

Adrian Sutil 

Daniel Ricciardo 

Paul Di Resta 

Nico Hulkenberg

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