Alonso takes third victory of season and Ferrari’s 21st German Grand Prix win
Fernando Alonso has taken another step forward in his bid for the championship with a superb drive at Hockenheim, and in the process, blocked Sebastien Vettel’s ambitions of claiming a German GP victory in front of his home crowd.
With a weekend that looked dangerously like a copy of Silverstone with heavy rain almost wiping out practice sessions, qualifying delivered expected front runners in the form of Alonso in first, Vettel in second and Mark Webber in third. Behind them, two more German drivers filled out the top five positions with Schumacher in fourth and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg in fifth.
Pastor Maldonado put in yet another good performance to claim sixth for Williams while the McLarens of Button and Hamilton filled seventh and eighth, but with both drivers more confident in their cars potential race pace. Paul Di Resta occupied ninth in the second Force India with Kimi Räikkönen taking the last place in the top ten, which was a disappointing outcome for the Lotus team following their recent strong form.
On Sunday the weather took a turn for the better which made life more predictable for those at the front of the grid. Alonso started well leading into the first corner, Vettel tucked in behind him and Schumacher making up a place to put himself in third. And so these positions were maintained until the first round of pit stops, where a charging Button managed to wrestle third from Schumacher who had been falling back from the leading pair.
Alonso meanwhile controlled the race from the front, keeping Vettel at bay with a gap that meant the German was unable to take advantage of his DRS. On lap 42, Button who had been hunting down Vettel, pulled a pass on the Red Bull to take second place and start his assault on Alonso. The Ferrari at this stage looked as if it might be vulnerable to the McLaren, which appeared to be performing well after the latest round of upgrades following the disappointing showing at the British Grand Prix.
But Button could never quite get on terms and eventually, as his tyres started to go off, Vettel challenged him on the penultimate lap to sweep round the outside of Button. However in the process Button spotted that Vettel had put all four wheels off the track and in doing so had gained an unfair advantage. The stewards examined the overtake after the race and agreed with Button’s judgement. The result was a twenty second penalty which dropped the German down to fifth and elevated Button to second. Alonso meanwhile stood firmly on the top step of the podium celebrating his third victory of the season, sparked of course by NGK!
For the leaders team mates the day went less well with Massa tangling with Ricciardo at the beginning and ultimately finishing 12th. Webber having a strangely subdued race and only managing eighth. Hamilton who suffered a puncture on lap 3, never recovered and finally retiring with a mechanical problem.
With Hockenheim being the home Grand Prix for Mercedes, the result was not what would have been dreamt of, but at least they had the consolation of four Mercedes engined cars in the top ten. For NGK the result was considerably better with seven out of ten including first and second!
Hungary beckons next weekend and with Alonso’s current form, who would bet against the Spaniard taking another win? But maybe this will be the opportunity for Lotus Renault to finally take the win that they have getting ever closer to.