|Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso (2nd L) of Spain jumps on the podium after winning the British F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone, central England July 10, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Helgren
Silverstone, England - Fernando Alonso benefited from Sebastian Vettel's mistake on pit road to win Sunday's British Grand Prix.
Vettel, the defending Formula One world champion, overtook his Red Bull Racing teammate and pole sitter Mark Webber for the lead on the opening lap and then led the first 27 circuits around Silverstone Circuit before making his second of three pit stops.
A problem with attaching the rear wheels on Vettel's stop allowed Alonso to exit the pits ahead of him. The two pitted at the same time.
Alonso, who started third, went on to lead the remainder of the 52-lap race, clinching his and Ferrari's first win of the season. Alonso's most recent win came last October in the Korean Grand Prix.
The Spaniard also claimed his 27th career F1 victory, which placed him in a tie with Jackie Stewart for fifth on the racing circuit's all-time race winners list.
"I saw the problem with Sebastian in the pit stall," Alonso said. "I didn't know we were leading at the moment, since I was fighting with Mark and [Lewis] Hamilton. I left the pits and found myself leading the race. Then I pulled a good gap."
Vettel fell back to sixth after his pit road error, but moved up to second shortly after. The young German held off a late-race challenge from Webber to finish in the runner-up spot.
"Surely we lost the lead when I had quite a bit of cushion at that stage," Vettel said. "It didn't help. Fernando then came out ahead of Mark and Lewis, and I struggled to get past...You can't get it right all the time, with little mistakes here and there. I accept that Ferrari beat us fair and square."
Most portions of the 3.667-mile (5.891-kilometer) circuit were wet from a heavy shower that moved over the area earlier in the day. It made for tricky conditions at the start of the race.
"It was a mixed race, as it was very slippery and tricky at the start with the intermediate [tires] on a track that was half-dry and half-wet," Webber said. "Just before the in-lap [to pit], I had a massive moment at Becketts [section of the track], so Fernando closed on me a bit. I went across the grass before I came in."
Vettel now holds an insurmountable 80-point lead over Webber, who settled for third. Red Bull gave Webber team orders to not overtake Vettel during their battle in the closing laps. After the race concluded, the Australian was reportedly frustrated with the team's decision.
Alonso moves up to third in the standings, as he trails Webber by 12 points.
Hamilton from McLaren and Ferrari's Felipe Massa had a furious battle for position on the final lap. The two ran side-by-side and made slight contact heading into turn 16. Hamilton fended off the challenge to finish fourth in front of his home crowd, while Massa ran wide before crossing the line in fifth.
"That was as close as it was going to get," Hamilton said.
Mercedes GP's Nico Rosberg finished sixth, followed by Sergio Perez from Sauber and Renault's Nick Heidfeld.
Michael Schumacher from Mercedes received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty in the pits for causing a collision with Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi early in the race. But Schumacher rebounded for a ninth-place run. Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari completed the top-10.
Hamilton's teammate and compatriot Jenson Button also had a pit road mistake during the mid-stages. His right-front wheel was not properly attached during his stop. His tire came off just after he exited the pits, forcing him to pull off the circuit and retire from the event with a 20th-place result.
"We all make mistakes, and you always hope they never happen," Button said. "It's disappointing because it was in front of a home crowd.
Button and Hamilton are both 95 points behind Vettel.