FERRARI FIGHTBACK

Hamilton back to his best in front of home fans but old foe Alonso steals his thunder

BRITAIN’S Lewis Hamilton produced a stunning drive to thrill his home crowd at Silverstone but the day belonged to his long-time arch rival Fernando Alonso who secured his and Ferrari’s first win of the season in emphatic style.

Hamilton started in a lowly 10th position but a superb opening burst transformed the outlook of his race. He was up to second at one point but finished the day fighting off Felipe Massa to successfully cling onto fourth place.

It was a drive that demonstrated just why the McLaren man is understood to be attracting admiring glances from Red Bull, Formula One’s most dominant team. His brave and ruthless instincts in the early part of the race were complemented late on by a superb defensive display as he fought off the attentions of the Brazilian.

“Even though we didn’t win, I still feel it has been one of the best Silverstone grands prix of all time,” said the 2008 world champion.

“I was 10th at the start, but the support I was getting it was almost as if I was on pole. I just can’t wait for the time we are at the front and we are able to win for the fans.”

Alonso, meanwhile, was back to his dominant best equipped with a car that never looked like being hauled in after an uncharacteristic pit lane error on lap 27 hindered runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

“There are not championship thoughts because we know the gap is massive,” said Alonso, who is still 92 points behind the German. “It is no secret that we lost a bit of ground in the first couple of races because we put new parts on the car that weren’t quick.

“But it seems that in the last three or four races every new part we put on the car is working fine. I am very proud of the recovery we made.

Vettel was left in the end to fend off a spirited challenge from his team-mate Mark Webber, who closed right up to the German in the final couple of laps and made a couple of attempts to pass before being told by boss Christian Horner: “Mark, you have to maintain the gap.”

“I’m not fine with it, no,” Webber said. “If Fernando retires on the last lap, we’re battling for victory. Of course I ignored the team and I was battling to the end. I was trying to do my best with the amount of conversation on the radio.”

2011 | DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 204 points

2. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 124

3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 112

4. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 109

5. Jenson Button (McLaren) 109

2011 | CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Red Bull 328 points

2. McLaren 218

3. Ferrari 164

4. Mercedes 121

5. Renault 98