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British GP: Rosberg wins chaotic race amid tyre drama

Nico Rosberg fended off Mark Webber to win a thrilling British Grand Prix littered with tyre blow-outs and featuring a late retirement for championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

Rosberg's Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton was leading until he became the first man to suffer a tyre blow, with Vettel then controlling the race until his Red Bull lost drive in the closing stages.

That set up a thrilling finale as Vettel's team-mate Webber, who had fallen to 15th on lap one, hunted down Rosberg, while Fernando Alonso and the recovering Hamilton charged past Kimi Raikkonen into third and fourth.

Hamilton had established a two-second lead over Vettel, who jumped Rosberg off the line, by lap seven, when his left rear tyre blew going down the Wellington straight.

That was followed soon after by a seemingly identical failure for Felipe Massa. The Ferrari driver had thrust from 11th on the grid to fifth at the start and was pushing Adrian Sutil for third when his tyre gave well while accelerating out of the The Loop.

When Jean-Eric Vergne's left rear tyre also exploded on the approach to Stowe, the safety car came out for seven laps, with engineers urging their drivers to avoid the kerbs.

Vettel kept Rosberg at arm's length once the race restarted. Sutil ran third until leaving his second pitstop too late and being jumped by Raikkonen, Alonso and Webber. The Australian was on a charge from 15th after a slow start and a first-corner brush with Romain Grosjean, and overtook Alonso going into the closing stages.

Just as the result seemed settled, Vettel ground to a halt on the pits straight with a loss of drive.

With the stranded Red Bull prompting a safety car, Rosberg dived in for a third tyre stop and rejoined still ahead of Raikkonen. Webber and Alonso also went for tyres and dropped to fifth and eighth, elevating Sutil and Daniel Ricciardo to third and fourth.

Webber made sublime use of his fresh tyres to quickly pick off Ricciardo and Sutil, then battle past Raikkonen.

By the final lap the Red Bull was within a second of Rosberg, who held on to win by seven tenths of a second.

Alonso also made rapid progress on his new rubber, dodging the McLaren of Sergio Perez as it became yet another tyre-blow victim, then fighting through to third.

The recovering Hamilton followed through, demoting Raikkonen - who had questioned Lotus's decision not to pit under the late safety car - to fifth.

Massa climbed back to sixth after his puncture, with Sutil and Ricciardo pushed back to seventh and eighth ahead of Paul di Resta (from the back of the grid) and Nico Hulkenberg.

Jenson Button had been on course for points for McLaren until the final laps, when he was elbowed down to 13th.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS

The British Grand Prix
Silverstone, Britain;
52 laps; 306.198km;
Weather: Sunny.

Classified:

Pos Driver                Team                     Time/Gap
 1. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                 1h32m59.456s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault + 0.765s
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari + 7.124s
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 7.756s
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 11.257s
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari + 14.573s
7. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 16.335s
8. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 16.500s
9. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 17.993s
10. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari + 19.700s
11. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault + 21.135s
12. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault + 25.094s
13. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes + 25.968s
14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari + 26.285s
15. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault + 31.613s
16. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth + 36.097s
17. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth + 1:07.660s
18. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault + 1:07.759s
19. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 1 laps
Fastest lap: Webber, 1:33.401 Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 47
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 42
Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 36 World Championship standings, round 8: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Vettel 132 1. Red Bull-Renault 219 2. Alonso 111 2. Mercedes 171 3. Raikkonen 98 3. Ferrari 168 4. Hamilton 89 4. Lotus-Renault 124 5. Webber 87 5. Force India-Mercedes 59 6. Rosberg 82 6. McLaren-Mercedes 37 7. Massa 57 7. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 24 8. Di Resta 36 8. Sauber-Ferrari 6 9. Grosjean 26 10. Button 25 11. Sutil 23 12. Vergne 13 13. Perez 12 14. Ricciardo 11 15. Hulkenberg 6 All timing unofficial
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