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Rosberg triumphs in Britain

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso boosted his title hopes with an unexpected third place.

Mercedes Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg. Picture: AFP.

SILVERSTONE - Germany's Nico Rosberg won a dramatic British Grand Prix for Mercedes on Sunday after one of several explosive tyre failures scuppered team mate Lewis Hamilton's hopes of home victory.

On an afternoon that also saw triple world champion Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull break down while leading, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso boosted his title hopes with an unexpected third place.

Vettel has 132 points to the Spaniard's 111 after eight of 19 races, with the German's home race at the Nürburgring next up in a week's time.

Australian Mark Webber, who had started on the second row but plunged to 14th at the end of the first lap after a nightmare start, finished second to continue a run of Silverstone podium finishes dating back to 2009.

"It's a very, very special day," said Rosberg of his second win of the season.

"With Lewis, I feel sorry for all the British fans. It would have been a great race for Lewis here in front of his home crowd. That's racing sometimes," said Rosberg in a podium interview with 1996 champion Damon Hill.

"When Sebastian stopped, I won't lie. I wasn't disappointed by that one. And it was just a great race from then," added the German, who beat Webber by 0.7 seconds after a thrilling last seven laps following the second safety car.

Hamilton had started on pole, chasing his first win for Mercedes since his move from McLaren, and led for the first eight laps until the 2008 world champion's rear left tyre exploded in a flash of flailing rubber.

He nursed his bucking car around the circuit, pitted in 18th place and returned to the track 21st with his hopes of victory wrecked.

It was the start of a mighty drive by the Briton, who ended the race in fourth place.

"Wonderful drive, Lewis," said team principal Ross Brawn over the team radio at the finish. "Sorry it didn't quite work out but well done."