Fernando Alonso wins German Grand Prix
Just how much difference a driver makes in Formula One has been a debate over the past 20 years as the ever-increasing grip of technology seems to diminish the human element of the equation.
However, Fernando Alonso must be doing something a bit special with his Ferrari.
While teammate Filipe Massa could finish only 12th, Alosno won his second race in three grands prix to go 34 points clear in the drivers’ standings to win the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. In a season when the first seven races were won by different drivers that amounts to clear space as Alonso tries to win the title for a third time.
Alonso continued his good form of the past month to take pole but, with three German drivers behind him on the grid, the Spaniard knew that he could not afford a slow start if he was to hold the lead on the 420-metre run to turn one.
Instead he nailed it and left Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull, Michael Schumacher in the Mercedes and Nico Hulkenberg – who had made a big impression in the Force India – to indulge in something of a local squabble in the opening laps.
Lewis Hamilton’s 100th Grand Prix became almost instantly forgettable for the former world champion. He began from seventh but had problems with debris picked up from Massa when he drove into the back of Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso’s and dropped to 22nd by lap four and retired 10 laps from the end, leaving him 62 points behind Alonso.
Jenson Button, Hamilton’s McLaren teammate, had begun a place higher and was up to third by lap 11, while Vettel, having seen off the early attentions of Schumacher, turned his fully towards Alonso.
The Ferrari driver gave up the lead to pit on lap 18 while Vettel chose to stay out until lap 20 at which point Vettel emerged from the pits five seconds ahead of Button but the McLaren closed remorselessly on the Red Bull and passed the German by making his second stop a lap earlier.
From there Button was on Alonso’s tail, and rarely more than a second behind Alonso from then until the closing laps of the race. But such is the confidence with which Alonso is driving at present he was able to control the race despite the relatively margin of his advantage. He was then able to stretch that advantage as, once again, tyre degradation would play its part.
In the Canadian Grand Prix, Alonso had been left defenceless as his tyres lost grip and he lost the win to Hamilton. But now it was the Mclaren driver who was struggling to maintain contact, with both the leader and the track.
Button was forced to switch from attack to defence as he found his wing mirrors filled with the menacing shape of Vettel looking for a way past. The German finally found it at the hairpin of turn six on the penultimate lap.
However, Vettel’s manoeuvre was placed under investigation by the race stewards after Button complained that the reigning champion had only achieved the overtake by going off the track. Explaining his actions, Vettel said: "I wasn't sure he was still on the side or not, I can't see from the inside of the car, so I tried to give him enough room and went wide."
However the stewards felt that Vettel’s action was somewhat wide of the mark penalised him with a retrospective drive-through penalty of 20 seconds.
That promoted Button – who could also take some consolation from an improved performance having taken just seven points in six races prior to this race – to second with Kimi Räikkönen third in the Lotus, followed by the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi. Then came Vettel and and Sergio Perez in the second Sauber and Michael Schumacher seventh.
Mark Webber could only finish where he started in his Red Bull – in eighth after his five-place grid penalty.
Leading final positions
|1. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari 1hr 31m 05.862s, 2. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes +0m 06.9s, 3. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Lotus-Renault +0m 16.4s, 4. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Sauber-Ferrari +0m 21.9s, 5. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault +0m 23.7s, 6. Sergio Perez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari +0m 27.8s, 7. Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes-Mercedes +0m 28.9s, 8. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault +0m 46.9s, 9. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Force India-Mercedes +0m 48.1s, 10. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes +0m 48.8s, 11. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes +0m 59.2s, 12. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1m 11.4s, 13. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1m 16.8s, 14. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Williams-Renault +1m 16.9s, 15. Vitaly Petrov Russia Caterham-Renault +1 lap, 16. Bruno Senna Brazil Williams-Renault +1 lap, 17. Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault +1 lap, 18. Heikki Kovalainen Finland Caterham-Renault +2 laps, 19 Charles Pic France Marussia -Cosworth +2 laps, 20. Pedro de la Rosa Spain HRT-Cosworth +3 laps, 21. Timo Glock Germany Marussia -Cosworth +3 laps, 23. Narain Karthikeyan India HRT-Cosworth +3 laps.
Not classified: Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 56 laps completed.
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