Alonso fends off Vettel and Button to win in Germany

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

Not classified/retirements:

Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes             58 laps

World Championship standings, round 10:

Drivers:
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

Constructors:
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.

13 thoughts on “Alonso fends off Vettel and Button to win in Germany

  1. German Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso reckons pursuers Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button were faster than him after winning the race. Autosport.com has the story.

    Fernando Alonso believes he did not have the quickest car in the German Grand Prix, where the Spaniard secured his third win of the season.

    Alonso started from pole, a position he secured in the wet on Saturday, and managed to keep his rivals at bay throughout the whole race despite intense pressure from both Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel.

    The Ferrari driver became the first man to win three races in the 2012 season, also extending his lead in the championship to 34 points over Mark Webber, who was eighth at Hockenheim.

    Alonso admitted it had not been an easy day for him.

    “It was tough, definitely. It was not an easy race, maybe we were not the quickest in the dry,” said Alonso. “But we were quite competitive, enough to keep the lead. There were also some good calls by the team in terms of strategy. When Jenson pitted we had to react.

    “After that I knew it was a long race, 27 laps to the end with Jenson putting on a lot of pressure. The car was feeling good on traction and top speed so it was enough to keep the lead into Turn 6. After that you can’t pass so it was about controlling the tyres.”

    The Spaniard said the tyres performed as expected, despite the lack of dry running during the weekend.

    “The tyres were a question mark because we didn’t test enough to know about them. The Pirellis were fine, we were thinking it would be two stops and it was two stops. When you are in the lead you just need to cover the others. The degradation was quite low, so not a lot of surprises with the tyres.”

    Alonso, who won the race by less than four seconds from Vettel, is expecting next weekend’s race in Hungary to be equally close, and he reckons perfect preparation will be crucial to be able to stay in the fight for victory.

    “It’s going to be tight. It’s a short circuit and as we saw this year, in two or three tenths there are eight or nine cars. So we need to make a perfect preparation and a perfect qualifying, because you can be out of the top 10 if you miss a couple of tenths. We need to maximise what we have in Hungary and hopefully bring some new parts.”

  2. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has hit out at Lewis Hamilton’s “stupid” move during the German Grand Prix as the McLaren driver unlapped himself. Autosport.com has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel hit out at Lewis Hamilton for unlapping himself during the German Grand Prix, calling the McLaren driver’s actions “stupid”.

    Hamilton was a lap down after sustaining a puncture on debris early in the race, but was going faster than leaders Fernando Alonso and Vettel having just pitted for fresh tyres.

    The McLaren spent a while between the first and second-placed Ferrari and Red Bull, while at the same time Hamilton’s team-mate Jenson Button was closing in on Vettel.

    “That was not nice of Lewis. I don’t see why he was racing us,” said Vettel. “If he wants to go fast he should drop back and find a gap. It was stupid as he was a lap down.”

    He added: “If you want to go quick and you have no chance to win the race you should respect that and use common sense. I didn’t expect him to attack because I didn’t see the point, and then I was surprised when he was side by side.”

    Vettel reckons the delay he incurred battling with Hamilton was critical in his loss of second place to Button in the subsequent pitstops. The Red Bull later regained the spot with a controversial late pass.

    “I think that [Hamilton battle] lost us the place to Button because shortly after that we pitted,” said Vettel.

    Alonso acknowledged that Vettel’s dice with Hamilton had been handy for him, and that he would have swiftly let the McLaren past if necessary.

    “I knew that if Lewis was close enough with the DRS and trying to overtake, I had no problem to leave the space,” said Alonso. “I knew he was not in the race. We didn’t want to risk anything. For me it was a good position to have Hamilton between me and Sebastian.

    “Having Hamilton there it meant Sebastian was 2.5s behind approaching the pitstop, so I tried to keep Lewis there.”

    Vettel also felt his Red Bull was not quite quick enough at times in the race, particularly when in traffic.

    “Overall the pace was there but it was extremely difficult,” said Vettel. “When we were close to Fernando and to Jenson we lost a lot and it was hard to stay close to try something under braking. That seemed to be the problem.

    “I’m not entirely happy, because I think we could have been a bit better if we were in clean air for most of the race.”

  3. McLaren driver Jenson Button was not impressed by Sebastian Vettel’s pass at the hairpin and commented that television replay shows the manoeuvre was wrong. Autosport.com has the news.

    Jenson Button says the television replays “say it all” about Sebastian Vettel’s pass on him during the German Grand Prix, the Briton declining to comment and leaving the stewards to rule on the incident.

    Vettel passed Button for second place with less than two laps to go by running off track at the exit of the hairpin.

    The move is under investigation by the stewards, and Vettel faces a potential penalty for having not respected the limits of the tracks to pass a rival.

    “There’s nothing to say really,” Button said after the race. “The TV camera says it all. I’d rather talk about the race.”

    Vettel said he had gone wide because he wanted to avoid contact with Button, claiming he did not know where the McLaren driver was.

    “It was a difficult one, I didn’t know if he was on the inside or not,” Vettel said. “The last thing you want is contact. I can’t see him from the side of the car so I tried to give enough room and went wide. We were all struggling with our tyres and I think that was the case for Jenson and that’s why I passed him.”

    He added: “I was thinking he was still there and I didn’t want to close [the door] too early. I wanted to leave some space. The last thing you want at the end is to crash. So I decided to go off the circuit to make it safe. He had no traction but even on the slippery paint I was able to pass.”

  4. Michael Schumacher said seventh place was the maximum he could have hoped for in the German Grand Prix after saying he had “squeezed everything” out of his car.

    The seven-time champion was optimistic of a strong result after starting the race from third position, but his hopes were shortlived and the Mercedes driver was unable to keep up with his rivals.

    In the end he dropped down to seventh position, which he said was the best possible result given his pace.

    “There are nicer ways to finish a home race than falling back from third to seventh place,” said Schumacher. “I squeezed everything I could out of the car but, unfortunately, that’s everything we could manage today. It’s a pity because I would have loved to have given something more to all our Mercedes-Benz colleagues who were supporting us today.

    “Before this weekend, we expected to be racing between P5 and P7, and of course fifth place would have been the better option, but seventh was our maximum in these circumstances.

    “I got a decent start and the short battle with Sebastian [Vettel] was fun. After that, unfortunately, there weren’t too many highlights, apart from setting the fastest lap, perhaps. However, we couldn’t maintain that pace for very long. Now we have to look forwards and do our maximum at the next race.”

    Team-mate Nico Rosberg completed a low-key home race for Mercedes, the German crossing the line in 10th position to pick up a point.

    “It feels OK to have scored one point today after such a bad qualifying yesterday and starting right at the back,” he said. “We had a good strategy and I had great fun out there at times overtaking so many people to move from 21st to 10th place.

    “Some of the guys I had to overtake a couple of times and there were some nice manoeuvres.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  5. Sauber duo say better result was possible in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. Autosport.com has the details.

    Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez believe their fifth and sixth place finishes in the German Grand Prix was actually a lot less than their Sauber team was capable of if they had qualified better.

    The duo converted 12th and 17th places on the grid to top-six finishes, using great race pace to move through the field with a series of passes on rivals and a sharply-executed two-stop strategy.

    “I am very happy for the team that we have managed to get a good result again. We have been unlucky in the two most recent races, and also had a bad qualifying yesterday,” said Kobayashi.

    “The performance of our car, especially in the dry, is really strong. If we only had qualified better we could have achieved even more today.

    “At the beginning of the race it was a bit difficult on the medium tyres, but our strategy was good. Considering where we came from, 18 points is an excellent result.”

    Perez said he had been hampered by a possible puncture so could potentially have gained even more ground.

    “My strategy was a little bit compromised because I had to do my first pitstop a bit earlier than planned,” he said. “I felt something strange on the left hand side of the car – perhaps it was a puncture – but I don’t really know yet what it was. This obviously meant we had to extend the later stint and I ended up with quite old tyres.”

    Team owner Peter Sauber described his squad’s performance as “outstanding”. The result pulled Sauber clear of pursuers Williams and Force India in the battle for sixth in the constructors’ standings.

  6. Sebastian Vettel has been handed a penalty for his overtaking move on Jenson Button in the German Grand Prix.

    The Red Bull driver passed his McLaren rival for second with less than two laps to go by running off track at the exit of the hairpin.

    Vettel’s move was illegal, according to the stewards, who imposed a post-race drive-through penalty on the German, meaning 20 seconds have been added to his finishing time.

    “Car 1 left the track and gained an advantage when he rejoined. Breach of article 20.2 of the FIA Formula 1 sporting regulations,” said the stewards.

    “Drive-through penalty, imposed after the race in accordance with article 16.3 (20 seconds added to the elapsed race time.”

    The German drops from second to fifth, promoting Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen to third.

    Source: Autosport.com

  7. The 2009 world champion Jenson Button says no one faster than McLaren now. Autosport.com has the news.

    Jenson Button believes that no car is faster than his McLaren after he fought for the win at Hockenheim.

    The Briton only qualified seventh in wet conditions on Saturday but made rapid progress in the race and finished second.

    Button said that he had felt confident the car’s handling in Valencia and at Silverstone, but that the McLaren still lacked outright speed at that point. With the updates fitted in Germany, he was now confident the team can remain at the front, after matching German Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso’s pace in the final stint.

    “I am happy that we have done a good job and we have good pace, there is no one quicker than us at the moment and we can fight for the win in the next few races,” said Button.

    “I have had some difficult races earlier in the year but the last two I have felt confident in myself and the team, but we weren’t quick enough so to come here and fight at the front for the victory was a very special feeling,” he added.

    “They [Ferrari] did look impressive but I wouldn’t say they were quicker than us, over a stint they were unbelievably similar.

    “They were looking after their tyres at the start of stints when I had to push and at the end of the stint he was quicker than me so it evened itself out.”

    Button is confident that if he can be more competitive in qualifying he can fight for wins in the coming races.

    “We have brought it [the upgrade] here and we have done a very good job with it, we need a little bit more as we always do, but you’d say we are in the mix and if we can sort out qualifying then we’ve got a really good chance of winning races at the moment,” he said.

  8. After starting fourth on the grid, Nico Hulkenberg was left feeling disappointed by his German Grand Prix race slump. The Force India driver finished the Hockenheim race in ninth position. Autosport.com has the details.

    Nico Hulkenberg conceded he was hoping for a better result in the German Grand Prix, even though he said he did not expect to be able to hold on to fourth.

    The Force India driver started from the second row of the grid after a strong qualifying showing in the wet, but his pace in the dry did not allow him to fight to retain the position.

    Hulkenberg dropped to ninth place in the end, scoring two points for his team, but said after his promising Saturday he was hoping for a better result.

    “We always knew it was going to be tough to hang on to fourth place because we did not look especially strong in the dry conditions on Saturday morning,” said Hulkenberg. “But when you’re in that position you hope for the best and actually the first part of the race was strong for me and I had some good battles.

    “In terms of strategy, doing three stops was the way forward because a two-stop race was not possible with the way the tyres were degrading. So it’s good to come away with some points but I was certainly hoping for a bit more from my home race.”

    Paul di Resta finished outside the points in 11th, the Scot left believing a more aggressive strategy may have helped his cause in the race.

    “A tough race today and ultimately we didn’t have the pace to match teams like Lotus and Sauber,” he said. “The story of the race was deciding whether to stop two or three times and with hindsight we probably could have been more aggressive. But it was hard to understand the tyres and we seemed to struggle for pace in the middle of each stint.

    “I think we have the baseline speed in the car but we just couldn’t demonstrate it today and that’s why I missed out on points. Hopefully we can find the sweet spot next weekend before the summer break.”

  9. Williams’s chief engineering officer Mark Gillan said substantial damage to Pastor Maldonado’s car from debris led to his lapped 15th-place finish at Hockenheim.

    The damage was sustained on lap 12 when the Venezuelan driver ran over a piece of carbon fibre that damaged the left hand side of his car.

    Maldonado had been confident of a strong finish after starting in fifth position on the grid and was running sixth when he hit the debris. The Williams was too badly damaged to maintain that pace.

    “It is obviously very disappointing today with Pastor, he was going quite well at the beginning and he went over some debris on lap 12 and it has quite badly damaged his car. He has quite a big loss, the car is so sensitive to it and almost immediately we lost the grip and never got it back,” said Gillan.

    “He picked up a little bit of carbon that was lying in the middle of the track and it must have disintegrated as he ran over it so it must have been big enough to damage quite a few of our aero bits on the left hand side of the car,” he added.

    “Pastor was pushing hard and looking to finish pretty much where he was and there was no reason why he couldn’t. He was confident in the car and our long-run pace was pretty good.”

    After incidents in Valencia and at Silverstone for Maldonado and a poor run of form for Bruno Senna, Gillan said that the team will need to do better in Hungary, but believes this is possible.

    “We have been pretty good on all kinds of circuit so there is no one circuit where I rub my hands with glee but we are looking forward to it and we need to start scoring points. We lost a number of points today through no fault of the drivers,” he said.

    Source: Autosport.com

  10. McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton has commented that his puncture was just ‘cruel luck’. Autosport.com has the news.

    Lewis Hamilton labelled the puncture he suffered in the German Grand Prix as “cruel luck” for him.

    The McLaren driver was one of the victims of the debris on track at the start of the race following a collision involving Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.

    Hamilton’s right rear tyre was punctured, the Briton dropping to the bottom of the field. He later retired from the race.

    The Briton, competing in his 100th grand prix, was left lamenting his bad luck.

    “My second-lap puncture was incredibly unfortunate: there was debris scattered across the full width of the track and I didn’t have any option other than to drive straight through it,” said Hamilton.

    “What’s more frustrating is that, at the time, I was the eighth car through – so to be the one to get the puncture is just cruel luck.

    “It was immediately clear that my car didn’t feel the same after the puncture. However, after a few laps, I was able to adapt my driving style, and the car had good pace during the middle stint. However, with the damage to the rear, I think we were lucky to get that far, to be honest.”

    Hamilton was nonetheless encouraged by McLaren’s pace following the introduction of new upgrades.

    “At least I was able to have some fun out on track – my pace was good enough to be able to match the leaders during the middle stint. And that’s encouraging for me, because we know our car’s been genuinely quick this weekend.

    “We’ll put that pace in our pockets and take it to Hungary next weekend. I’m back in the car in five days’ time – and that’s the best possible news for me after a day like today.”

  11. McLaren sporting director Sam Michael believes that Sebastian Vettel would not have been able to complete the pass on Jenson Button without going off the track, meaning that a post-race penalty was inevitable.

    Vettel overtook Button around the outside at the hairpin on the penultimate lap of the German Grand Prix to take second place, but used asphalt run-off beyond the track limits to do so.

    This led to Vettel being hit with a 20-second time penalty post-race in lieu of a drive-through, which promoted Button to second place and relegated the German to fifth.

    “The stewards decided in Jenson’s favour because Vettel left the track and gained an advantage,” said Michael when asked by AUTOSPORT about the decision.

    “Without leaving the track, he would not have been able to complete the manoeuvre and the stewards thought the same thing. That’s why they gave him the penalty.”

    Michael added that Vettel could not legitimately claim that he was forced to go wide because of where Button positioned his car.

    “Jenson left plenty of space,” he said. “He did not crowd him off the circuit and Vettel took the decision very early at the apex of the corner not to stay on the racing line, you can see that from the way he accelerates out and heads straight off the track.

    “There’s no violent steering angle where he is trying to stay on the track. That’s why the stewards decided in Jenson’s favour.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  12. After the race, Sebastian Vettel labelled Lewis Hamilton’s unlapping pass as ‘stupid’ and yet Martin Whitmarsh disagree with the defending world champion. Autosport.com has the story.

    McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has defended Lewis Hamilton after he was accused of pulling a “stupid” move when unlapping himself during the German Grand Prix.

    Hamilton lost time early in the race with a puncture, but emerged from the pits behind Vettel, who was chasing Fernando Alonso for the lead and decided to unlap himself on the Red Bull driver.

    “Racing drivers race,” said Whitmarsh. “He was quicker, he overtook and he pulled away, so I’m not sure what stupidity there is in that.”

    After emerging from the pits, Hamilton could either have backed off and let team-mate Jenson Button past after being shown a blue flag, or push on and unlap himself.

    Sporting director Sam Michael explained that there was no problem with what Hamilton did and that the team told him to go past Vettel.

    “It was completely legal,” said Michael when asked by AUTOSPORT about the incident. “He came out and he was fast. We said to him that you’ve got blue flags for Jenson.

    “When you get a blue flag, you have two choices. You let the car past, or you speed up significantly.

    “So we told him to speed up significantly and overtake Vettel and he did so. He didn’t hold Vettel up at all because Vettel couldn’t keep up with him. So it didn’t have any material impact on Vettel’s race and it’s completely legal.”

    Whitmarsh believes that although Hamilton had a disappointing day, retiring from the race late on while running outside the points, his performance was encouraging.

    “It was a deeply frustrating day for Lewis and I am sure he will be frustrated for the rest of this day,” said Whitmarsh.

    “But he’ll know the car is quicker and he has been driving well in dry conditions and recognise that we have had good races in Hungary and he’ll be going there wanting to win.”

  13. Kimi Raikkonen believes he could have pushed the leaders in the German Grand Prix had he been able to qualify higher up the grid.

    The Finn endured a difficult qualifying in the wet on Saturday and had to started the race from 10th position.

    From there, however, the Lotus driver put on a charging drive to finish in fourth position, 16 seconds off race winner Fernando Alonso.

    Raikkonen was elevated to third when Sebastian Vettel was handed a penalty for passing Jenson Button off track.

    The former world champion welcomed to podium finish, but said he thought pushing for victory would have been possible had he started from the front.

    “It’s nice to have another podium, but obviously we would rather get it on the track,” said Raikkonen. “Having said that I think we did the best we could today from the position we started. Maybe if we had found a bit more pace in the wet yesterday we could have started higher, avoided the traffic and pushed the leaders, but it is what it is.

    “We were hoping for a bit better, but the car worked well all through the race and we still brought home some good points for the team so there are some positives to take to the next race.”

    The result allowed Raikkonen to move into fourth place in the championship with 98 points.

    The Finn – returning to F1 following a two-year absence – admitted he had mixed feelings about his position, feeling he could have scored better results in some of this year’s races.

    “If you had told me in January that we would be fourth halfway through the season, I think I would have been pretty pleased. It’s not a bad place to be, but I think we have a car good enough to have scored more points.

    “I want to win and the whole team is pushing hard to make it happen, so let’s see what we can do in the second half of the season…”

    Source: Autosport.com

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