Fernando Alonso gains third victory of the season

Fernando Alonso took his third victory of the season and extended his Formula 1 world championship lead by fending off  a charging Sebastian Vettel and a resurgent Jenson Button in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

In a close race where Alonso never managed to have a huge gap to the chasing pack whilst leading in his Ferrari, Alonso will have taken pleasure in the fact that he was able to keep his challengers at bay even though they appeared to have quicker cars. He was no doubt helped in his cause by Vettel and Button battling for second in the closing laps; as the Red Bull driver just did enough to take second position with a controversial move on the penultimate lap. The result stretches Alonso’s championship cushion to 34 points, as his closest challenger Mark Webber struggled with his tyres and could only finish eighth.

The race had a striking resemblance to the previous Grand Prix in Britain, Alonso spent the majority of the race leading whilst being under increasingly intense pressure. The Ferrari established a slight cushion over Vettel’s Red Bull in the opening stint on soft tyres, but the Ferrari seemed to now be able to work it’s medium Pirellis after the first pit-stops which allowed Vettel to close in.

After a first stint charge that would see him up to third, Button was also suddenly in the fight for the win as he pumped in impressive lap times in the redeveloped McLaren. The Briton had overtook Michael Schumacher and Nico Hulkenberg earlier in the race and then proceeded to close in on Vettel and Alonso. His cause was helped by his team-mate Lewis Hamilton attempting to unlap himself after he’d had to stop due to an early puncture. Hamilton who was celebrating his 100th Grand Prix this weekend had a nightmare day and was the only retirement of the race.

Stopping a lap earlier than Vettel at the final stops then allowed Button to move narrowly into second place and start the charge to chase Alonso down. Before he did he had to resist Vettel’s desperate attempt to get back past at the hairpin. A lap later Button flat spotted his right front tyre, this may have impeded him later in the race.

After a determined charge where he never could quite get close enough to make a pass on Alonso. Button’s car started to slow and the Red Bull of Vettel was on him.The Red Bull went down the outside into the hairpin with a lap to go and used the run-off area on the exit to complete a pass then did not impress Button, although the Briton still claimed his first podium since April’s Chinese GP. The stewards are still investigating the move.

Kimi Raikkonen took an ultimately lonely fourth for Lotus as a tyre strategy call to go on the soft tyres in the second stint may have caused him a chance at a better finish. The Saubers were the surprise of the race, showing great race pace and low tyre degradation. Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez coming through to fifth and sixth from their lower than usual grid slots.

Perez managed to hold on to sixth despite late pressure from Schumacher’s Mercedes, which was running a three-stop strategy and charging back on fresh soft tyres.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber never threatened the front runners and took eighth, just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. The Force India driver who started an impressive fourth fell down the order as the race progressed. His team-mate Paul di Resta ended up behind Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes in 11th. Rosberg much like his team-mate Schumacher also pitted three times and managed to make up ground to claim a point from his lowly grid position.

There were several drivers who’s race was ruined by a first lap collision that left debris strewn on the track but oddly did not draw movement from the stewards. Hamilton being the biggest victim as he picked up a puncture that would contribute to his eventual retirement from the race. Other drivers affected by the early incidents were Felipe Massa, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean. All three kept going and finished 13th, 17th and 18th respectively. Pastor Maldonado had a day to forget as he struggled with high tyre wear to finish 15th.

The big winner of the day though was Alonso and Ferrari. Having started the season with a car that was more of a asthmatic donkey than a prancing horse; it’s increasingly looking like the 2012 championship is the Spaniard’s to lose.


Pos  Driver        Team                       Time

1.  Alonso        Ferrari                    1h31:05.862

2.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           +     3.732

3.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +     6.949

4.  Raikkonen     Lotus-Renault              +    16.409

5.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +    21.925

6.  Perez         Sauber-Ferrari             +    27.896

7.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +    28.960

8.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +    46.900

9.  Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes       +    48.162

10.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +    48.889

11.  Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes       +    59.227

12.  Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +  1:11.428

13.  Massa         Ferrari                    +  1:16.829

14.  Vergne        Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +  1:16.965

15.  Maldonado     Williams-Renault           +     1 lap

16.  Petrov        Caterham-Renault           +     1 lap

17.  Senna         Williams-Renault           +     1 lap

18.  Grosjean      Lotus-Renault              +     1 lap

19.  Kovalainen    Caterham-Renault           +    2 laps

20.  Pic           Marussia-Cosworth          +    2 laps

21.  De la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth               +    3 laps

22.  Glock         Marussia-Cosworth          +    3 laps

23.  Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth               +    3 laps

Fastest lap: Schumacher, 1:18.275

Not classified/retirements:

Driver        Team                         On lap

Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes             58



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