Fernando Alonso extends his championship lead after resisting huge pressure from Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button to win his third race of the season following a great drive at Hockenheim.
The Spaniard never had a huge lead in his Ferrari, but did enough to keep the chasing Red Bull and McLaren at bay.
In the end Alonso was helped by Vettel and Button battling to the finish, their duel finally settled by a penultimate-lap pass from the Red Bull.
Although the overtaking manoeuvre by Vettel means he could face a post-race penalty. The Red Bull gained track position over the McLaren despite all four wheels off the circuit.
Alonso’s victory means he now extends his championship lead to 34 points, as Silverstone winner Mark Webber finished a disappointing eighth.
In a similar scenario to the previous Grand Prix in Britain, Alonso spent the race under increasing pressure.
The Ferrari established a slight cushion over Vettel’s Red Bull in the opening stint on the soft tyres, and then came under greater threat once they changed to medium Pirellis at the first pitstops.
By that time Button was also in the fight. The 2009 champion overtook Michael Schumacher and Nico Hulkenberg early on, then closed in on the top two, gaining some ground when his team-mate Lewis Hamilton – who had been delayed with an early puncture – unlapped himself from Vettel.
Stopping a lap earlier than the defending champion at the final pitstop then allowed Button to sweep into second position. He resisted Vettel’s attempted retaliation at the hairpin, and then set off after Alonso.
But in the closing laps it was Button who was under pressure as Vettel attacked. 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 McLaren driver still claimed his first podium since April’s Chinese Grand Prix.
Hours after the race, the stewards have decided to penalise Sebastian Vettel by twenty seconds on his ‘off-track’ manoeuvre. The German drops down to fifth while Jenson Button takes second position with Kimi Raikkonen completing the podium for Lotus.
Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth for Lotus, while the Saubers showed great race pace and tyre life with Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez coming through to fifth and sixth from their midfield grid slots.
Perez held on despite late pressure from Schumacher’s Mercedes, which was running a three-stop strategy and charging back on fresh soft tyres.
Webber never featured near the front and finished eighth, just ahead of Hulkenberg. The Force India driver drifted down the order as the race progressed, with his team-mate Paul di Resta ending up behind Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes in P11. Rosberg stopped three times in the pits and managed to make up lost ground well after his practice and qualifying dramas.
And Lewis Hamilton? His 100th race was a disaster as he cut his left-rear tyre on some of the Massa/Ricciardo debris on the third lap and dropped to the back of the field.
The McLaren eventually retired, while fellow early pit visitors Felipe Massa, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean kept racing and got back to P12, P17 and P18 respectively.
Also in trouble was Senna’s Williams team-mate Pastor Maldonado, who appeared to be suffering high tyre wear as he slumped to P15.
The result puts Alonso even further ahead in the title chase with 154 points to Webber’s 120, and Vettel is closing on his team mate with 118. Raikkonen takes fourth from Hamilton, 95 to 92, with Rosberg sixth on 76 and Button seventh on 65. In the constructors’ stakes, Red Bull have 238 points to Ferrari’s 177, McLaren’s 157 and Lotus’s 156.
German Grand Prix race results, 67 laps:
1. Alonso Ferrari 1h31:05.862
2. Button McLaren-Mercedes +6.949
3. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault +16.409
4. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari +21.925
5. Vettel Red Bull-Renault +23.732*
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
*Twenty-second penalty for overtaking Jenson Button off the circuit.
Fastest lap: Schumacher, 1:18.275
Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 58 laps
World Championship standings, round 10:
1. Alonso 154
2. Webber 120
3. Vettel 110
4. Raikkonen 98
5. Hamilton 92
6. Rosberg 76
7. Button 68
8. Grosjean 61
9. Perez 47
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
1. Red Bull-Renault 230
2. Ferrari 177
3. McLaren-Mercedes 160
4. Lotus-Renault 159
5. Mercedes 105
6. Sauber-Ferrari 80
7. Williams-Renault 47
8. Force India-Mercedes 46
9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6
Next race: Hungarian Grand Prix, Hungaroring. July 27-29.