Fernando Alonso has won the Germany Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring ahead of Sebastien Vettel and Jenson Button, extending his championship lead to 34 points.
The Spaniard led from the outset, making the most of his pole position after a great getaway left him clear of the chasing pack. It wasn’t an easy ride for Alonso, as he was kept under constant pressure from second and third placed men Vettel and Button throughout.
Button passed Vettel in the second round of pit stops before the German re-passed Button with two laps to go.
In the early stages, it was Vettel who kept the Ferrari-man honest, as the pair drove clear of the field on the 4.24-mile circuit. The pair, who started on the front row, both made good getaways as the pack behind filled into turn one. The start was fairly clean, however into turn one Felipe Massa took the front wing off his Ferrari on the back of Daniel Ricciardo‘s Toro Rosso, leaving debris across the track.
As they charged towards the hairpin for the first time, Michael Schumacher challenged Vettel, as Romain Grojean ran deep after contact with a car. Vettel managed to hold Schumacher off and he set about chasing Alonso, who had pulled a sizable gap for the opening lap of the race.
As the field entered lap two, they encountered the debris of Massa’s front wing on line at turn one. It seemed everyone had go through unscathed, however Lewis Hamilton suffered a left rear puncture in his 100th Grand Prix, effectively ending the Brits race.
By lap five Alonso had nearly a second gap to Vettel and the pair had pulled a gap of four seconds over third placed Schumacher. There was battles throughout the midfield, most notable Paul Di Resta and Kimi Raikonnen, who were wheel to wheel for three turns as they entered the stadium section.
The early movers were Sergio Perez and Nico Rosberg as they made their way from their somewhat false grid positions. By lap nine, Perez had made eight places, passing Di Resta for 9th after starting 17th, while Rosberg had made his way up to 12th from 21st.
Out front, Alonso and Vettel traded fast laps before settling into their strategies and tyre saving modes. Behind them the battle for the points and final podium spot was very close. Button made the most of the DRS to take third from Schumacher at the hairpin on lap eleven as the first round of pit stops started. Webber was the biggest loser in first round of pitstops, being jumped by a number of cars. Schumacher showed he’d not lost any of his race craft, making a daring move on Nico Hulkenberg into turn eight for 5th position on lap fifteen.
Alonso pitted on lap eighteen, two seconds ahead of Vettel and further five seconds ahead of Button. All three of the leader changed from the soft tyres to the medium compound, mirroring each others strategies. After the stops Button closed on the lead pair setting a number of fast laps and purple sectors, while Vettel closed within half a second of Alonso.
The trio closed on a out of position and out of sync Lewis Hamilton, who was recovering through the field after his early puncture. Hamilton was quicker than the leaders and rightful tried to unlap himself, firstly passing Vettel using DRS and then pressuring Alonso. Button pitted first of the trio, trying to undercut Alonso and Vettel, who was struggling with KERS issues. A lap after Button had made his stop, Alonso pitted to cover him, as did Vettel. As they exited the pits it was close between Button and Vettel, with the Mclaren driver squeezing past into turn two and taking second place.
Button closed on Alonso, bringing the gap down to less than a second for a number of laps. Alonso responded to Button’s pace setting fastest sector times, giving himself enough of a gap to hold off Button in the DRS zone. In final laps Vettel closed on the pair as tyre degradation came into play. Button and Vettel fought for the final four laps of the race before Vettel passed Button in a controversial move at the hairpin, using the run off on the outside of the turn to take the place, a move which is currently under investigation by the stewards.
But it was Alonso who would be the first man to take three victories in this incredibly close season, extending his championship lead as they head to Hungary in a weeks time.
POST-RACE UPDATE: Stewards have penalised Sebastian Vettel for his pass on Jenson Button imposing an post-race drive-through penalty. The result of this adds 20 seconds to his finishing time placing him in fifth place. Jenson Button finishes in second place while Kimi Raikkonen moves up to third place; Kamui Kobayashi is promoted to a career best fourth place.
Provisional results and standings:
Pos Driver Team 1. Alonso Ferrari 2. Button McLaren-Mercedes 3. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 4. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 5. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 6. Perez Sauber-Ferrari 7. Schumacher Mercedes 8. Webber Red Bull-Renault 9. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 10. Rosberg Mercedes 11. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes 12. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 13. Massa Ferrari 14. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 15. Maldonado Williams-Renault 16. Petrov Caterham-Renault 17. Senna Williams-Renault 18. Grosjean Lotus-Renault 19. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 20. Pic Marussia-Cosworth 21. De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 22. Glock Marussia-Cosworth 23. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth
Driver Team Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
World Championship standings, round 10:
Drivers: Constructors: 1. Alonso 154 1. Red Bull-Renault 230 2. Webber 120 2. Ferrari 177 3. Vettel 110 3. McLaren-Mercedes 160 4. Raikkonen 98 4. Lotus-Renault 159 5. Hamilton 92 5. Mercedes 105 6. Rosberg 76 6. Sauber-Ferrari 80 7. Button 68 7. Williams-Renault 47 8. Grosjean 61 8. Force India-Mercedes 46 9. Perez 47 9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6 10. Kobayashi 33 11. Maldonado 29 12. Schumacher 29 13. Di Resta 27 14. Massa 23 15. Hulkenberg 19 16. Senna 18 17. Vergne 4 18. Ricciardo 2