Peter Anderson | Jul 23, 2012

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso took an emphatic third victory of the year in a lights-to-flag run at the German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring.

Alonso got a great start and was never bested, despite determined challenges from Jenson Button and Sebastien Vettel. Vettel suffered a post-race penalty for overtaking Button off the track, promoting Kimi Raikkonen to third in the Lotus.

Mark Webber had a day to forget; he never looked comfortable in the Red Bull, and Daniel Ricciardo spent most of the afternoon drifting back from this eleventh place start to finish 13th.

 

Race

The sun was shining over the grid and all eyes were scanning the frontrunners for clues as to who was starting on which tyre.

The drivers in the top ten had freedom of choice after qualifying on wet tyres, but every driver from first to eleventh started on the soft, option tyre.

Red Bull survived a pre-race stewards hearing after the FIA discovered an irregularity with the Red Bull's Renault engine maps, but there will be more to come from that after Monday's Technical Working Group meeting.

Mark Webber had been demoted to eighth as a result of his penalty, with Grosjean pushed back to 19th and Rosberg to 22nd. Sergio Perez started 17th after his penalty was applied.

Webber got off the line well, immediately muscling past Lewis Hamilton. Schumacher attacked Vettel, the younger German initially struggling to keep the seven-time world champion behind him while another world champion, Alonso, started to pull away.

Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean and Bruno Senna all picked up damage on the first lap. Massa piled into the Toro Rosso of Ricciardo, tearing his front wing away and depositing it on the track.

Senna appeared to have a suspension failure, his car dragging along the track and the Lotus of Grosjean going off in sympathy with him after contact off the start.

Neither of them knew who or how, but they both pitted and rejoined after losing a minute, Senna's car seemingly okay.

The field were forced to drive through the confetti of debris at turn one, and Lewis Hamilton picked up a left rear puncture. Hamilton radioed the team to retire the car, but the team sent him back out with a fresh set of tyres.

Kimi Raikkonen was bottled up behind Paul di Resta as a result of avoiding Hamilton off the start, but was extremely quick.

On lap 5, di Resta and Raikkonen had a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle with di Resta through four corners, never once touching. The Finn eventually triumphed and set off after Webber.

Lap 8 saw Jenson Button take fourth from Hulkenberg at the hairpin, the Briton having a far better race here than in any of his last six.

He closed in on Michael Schumacher and ran in close company before he took Schumacher, again at the hairpin.

di Resta was the first of the front runners to pit, his Force India team pitting him on lap 11. Raikkonen pitted next lap for options.

Webber was in seventh behind Maldonado while Vettel continued to stay within a second and a half of leader Alonso.

Webber fitted the harder tyre on lap 13 with Hulkenberg doing the same. The Force India got out in front of Grosjean and Petrov, but Webber was stuck behind the two slower drivers.

"I had no pace today and wasn't quick. I couldn't stay with people that I normally can, so we'll look into it and come back in Budapest," Webber said.

"I'm disappointed, as I expected to get more out of today's race. Normally Sundays have been okay for me, but not today."

Schumacher pitted during all of this, coming out of the pits as compatriot Hulkenberg came past in the Force India.

Schumacher chucked his Mercedes down Nico's inside and Raikkonen cheekily slipped through with him, the Finn almost getting around Schumacher's outside in the process.

The Saubers were running surprisingly well in fourth for Perez and fifth for Kobayashi on lap 17, neither of them yet stopping to change their harder prime tyres.

Alonso and Vettel were also still running on their first sets of soft tyres, whereas the Saubers were on the medium compound.

Button too, had stayed out and was running third on the road before pitting on lap 19.

Raikkonen got past Schumacher and into fifth place on lap 21, putting him in clear air and allowing him to chase down Jenson Button. The McLaren driver was told by his pit crew that he was racing for the win as Raikkonen closed.

Vettel's Red Bull was much happier on the medium compound and he began to catch Alonso who was on the same rubber. Webber was well behind the leaders, over 20 seconds behind Alonso on lap 24.

Button chipped away at the four second lead of Vettel and Alonso, his McLaren team urging him on. Nico Hulkenberg fell from sixth to eighth as Perez and then Webber rounded him up on lap 31.

Lewis Hamilton was lapped by Alonso and Vettel under blue flags, but Lewis then harried Vettel and passed him into turn 8.

The twist was that Jenson Button was drawing closer and Hamilton's move displeased the reigning world champion, despite Hamilton then pulling away from the Red Bull.

Vettel's problems were compounded by his KERS misbehaving, his team telling him he was unable to use it to the system's full extent.

Hamilton began attacking Alonso with the benefit of DRS and fresher tyres. Hamilton was under no obligation to stay out of the way and enthusiastically attempted to unlap himself.

The fast-moving Raikkonen pitted for the second time on lap 38, the 2007 world champion having made it through to fourth in the Lotus.

Alonso and Vettel pitted together on lap 42, the Ferrari driver again getting out in front. Vettel then found himself behind the McLaren of Button who had a fantastic stop a lap earlier.

Button hunted Alonso down, having slashed a pre-stop four second gap to just seven-tenths with twenty laps to go.

Webber had fallen as low as tenth before again starting to push forward. The Australian was out of sorts and behind Nico Rosberg who had started 22nd.

Hamilton retired his car on lap 58, seemingly giving up after his first lap drama.

Sebastien Vettel closed on Button a few laps after the McLaren driver got a message to change his engine map. Vettel had been saving his tyres behind the silver car and on lap 65 was right behind at the hairpin.

On lap 66, Vettel attacked and passed Button grabbing second on the penultimate lap. Button was on the radio, however, pointing out that Vettel was off the circuit when he passed.

The stewards agreed and after the race Vettel was handed a twenty-second penalty, dropping him from second to fifth.

The drivers had been sternly warned by the FIA before the race that off-track excursions would not be tolerated, a particular problem at the narrow Hockenheimring.

Kimi Raikkonen came home fourth (before moving up to third post-race), probably frustrated he couldn't do any better but amazingly, making up six places on his own in the course of the race. He was followed home by the Saubers of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez.

Michael Schumacher's three-stop strategy left him in seventh and Mark Webber salvaged eighth place after a pretty awful afternoon.

Hulkenberg and Rosberg finished off the top ten and Daniel Ricciardo brought his Toro Rosso home 13th, falling victim to a hard-charging Felipe Massa in the closing laps.

"We tried a bit of everything today," Ricciardo said after the race. "But unfortunately we did not have any answers."

Alonso had a faultless weekend and is now 34 points ahead of Mark Webber, a lead that will be insurmountable before very long.

"Clearly, I didn't have a moment to relax, but I think I was calmer than the team in the garage and on the pit wall and our fans sitting in front of their televisions!" Alonso said.

"If I think back to where we were in Jerez, or Australia at the first race, I have to thank everyone at Maranello for the fantastic way in which they reacted to the situation."

Formula 1 returns next week at the Hungaroring for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

 

Results

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
Rtd - Lewis Hamilton - Britain - McLaren-Mercedes 56 laps completed

Fastest lap: Michael Schumacher - Germany - Mercedes-Mercedes - 1m 18.725s lap 57

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