Alonso fends off Vettel and Button to win German GP at Hockenheim
22 July, 2012
Jul.22 (GP247) Fernando Alonso made no mistake in his lights to flag victory in the German Grand Prix, at Hockenheim, fending off a race long threat from Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button which gives the Spaniard an even greater championship points lead exactly halfway through the season.
Two weeks earlier Alonso had victory snatched from his grasp at Silverstone, and it appeared that something similar would transpire at Hockenheim as Button and Vettel stalked the Ferrari driver relentlessly in the final stint of the race with the trio on the harder Pirelli compound tyres.
With ten laps to go, Button looked to be lining up a challenge on Alonso but the Spaniard had all the answers on the day and managed to stay ahead and in fact with half a dozen laps left he managed to pull away to score his third victory of the season.
Late on, with Alonso certain of victory, Vettel started to attack Button and with a couple of laps to go the Red Bull driver pounced at the hairpin, going around the McLaren which hogged the inside line and drifted out wide on the exit giving Vettel no room and as a result the German ran off the track as he powered out of the hairpin, and into second position in the process where he stayed until the chequered flag.
In parc ferme Button edged up to the German and said, “They are going to investigate your overtake you know.”
Vettel responded, “I didn’t know where you were.”
Stewards took a dim view of the move by Vettel and slapped him with a 20 seconds penalty after the race, which demoted him from second to fifth.
He said afterwards, to Niki Lauda, on the podium, “I don’t really know politics but it is true that the situation is not great in Spain but a Spanish driver in an Italian car, designed by a Greek man is good to win here. We enjoy the win. Starting on pole was the key factor because it was difficult to overtake and we were not the fastest but we kept the position.”
Later the Spaniard commented on the race proper, “It was tough and not an easy race. Maybe we were not the quickest in dry conditions but we were competitive and it was enough to maintain the lead. Great strategy calls from the team to keep me ahead through the pit stops.”
“I knew it would be a long race to the end, with Jenson putting pressure, but the car was feeling good on top speed and traction and that was enough to keep the lead into Turn 6. After that overtaking is not so easy,” added Alonso
“The pace was there but it was extremely difficult when I was close to Fernando and Jenson we seemed to lose a lot and not be able to stay close enough to try to something under braking. I am not entirely happy, it could have been a bit better if it was clean air most of the race but that was not the case. Second place was the best we could get today and I am happy with that,” reflected Vettel prior to being demoted for his move on Button.
It was a great comeback for Button who started from sixth on the grid and had not been on the podium since China in April. The McLaren MP4-27 showing strong pace again in dry conditions, able to hunt down Alonso and Vettel, close the gap and the pit crew deliver an astounding 2.5 seconds tyre change which allowed Button to peel into second place (ahead of Vettel) after the final stop.
Upon which the 2009 world champion set about chasing Alonso, but ran out of tyres when it which allowed Vettel to close up and overtake with the finish line in sight. But a couple of hours later he was re-instated in second place.
A good day at the office for the McLaren driver, “It was a close race and I couldn’t quite get Fernando at the end. When you are in the middle of three you really have to fight, and I was pushing a little bit more in the early part of the stint, whereas when you are in front you can coast a bit in the bits where you don’t need to push.”
“It was close but Fernando knows, as we all do, where to use KERS to keep someone behind you. I ran out of steam at the end of the straight and the gap was a little bit too big to get back. It was a fun race and it’s nice to be on the podium again. I had my feeling back the last two races but the pace hasn’t been there, but today it was. We are there or thereabouts at the front, still a little way to go,” concluded Button.
Kimi Raikkonen made it four world champions in the top four positions (until Vettel was dropped down to fifth) when he crossed the line to claim fourth place, which later became third, for Lotus. The E20 seemed temperamental around Hockenheim, but Raikkonen did well to maximise the periods when it was operating optimally to and help himself to a healthy haul of points after starting tenth on the grid.
Next up were the Sauber duo of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez who crossed the line fifth and sixth respectively, after starting 12th and 17th. The impressive C31 more often than not the fastest piece of kit out there, and better grid positions may well have seen them challenge for a podium spot. They were also dealt a dollop of luck when Kobayashi inherited fourth place, thus his best result this season, after Vettel’s indiscretion.
Local hero Michael Schumacher started from third on the grid, managed to get a good start but thereafter spent the afternoon defending as his Mercedes W03 lacked pace to challenge for the top spots. With less than 20 laps to go Schumacher was in fifth with tyres worn and the Sauber pair closing in fast, when he decided to gamble and stop for a set of brand new soft tyres. But it did not pay off and seventh was his reward for the hard graft in front of his home crowd.
Schumacher reflected cryptically, “It was busy but in the wrong way. We did not have the bit extra to get Sergio Perez under pressure and start overtaking. It wasn’t qualifying I had to save fuel at certain moments. We take the result and see what happens in future. I think we might see some interesting happenings in the future that does not concern just one car but several cars. It will be interesting.”
What a difference two weeks can make in F1! Mark Webber, who won the British GP in such fine style, struggled all afternoon at Hockenheim. Compromised by a five place grid penalty, he never really recovered from eighth on the grid where he stayed until the end of the race, although he remains second in the championship standings he lost a big chunk of points to Alonso.
Force India again failed to deliver on their qualifying promise and Nico Hulkenberg spent his afternoon looking in his mirrors and battling, unsuccessfully, with the Sauber duo. In the end fourth on the grid became ninth when the chequered flag dropped and disappointment all round for driver and team.
Starting 21st on the grid seemed to inspire Nico Rosberg, who avoided a start straight melee in front of him, and proceeded to carve his way through the field to claim a final point. Not the result he would have been hoping before the weekend began, but a good result on the day nevertheless.
Rewind to the start and drama started almost immediately, as the 24 cars dragged off the line, when bits and pieces started flying around the mid-pack area after what appeared to be contact between Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Fleipe Massa (Ferrari) and Bruno Senna (Williams) – all three were forced to pit for repairs and none of them getting back into any kind of point scoring position.
The result of the close encounter was a track full of debris on the next lap, which the leaders ran through without problem but luck was not on Lewis Hamilton’s side as he suffered a puncture and had to make his way round the track for new tyres. He made the change and rejoined, became embroiled with the leaders – much to Vettel’s disdain – and then parked to retire from his 100th grand prix.
German Grand Prix, Hockenheim – Sunday, 22 July 2012
|2||3||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||67||+6.9 secs||6||15|
|3||9||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||67||+16.4 secs||10||12|
|4||14||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||67||+21.9 secs||12||10|
|5||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||67||+23.7 secs||2||18|
|6||15||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||67||+27.8 secs||17||8|
|7||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||67||+28.9 secs||3||6|
|8||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||67||+46.9 secs||8||4|
|9||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||67||+48.1 secs||4||2|
|10||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||67||+48.8 secs||21||1|
|11||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||67||+59.2 secs||9|
|12||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||67||+71.4 secs||13|
|13||16||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||67||+76.8 secs||11|
|14||17||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||67||+76.9 secs||15|
|15||18||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||66||+1 Lap||5|
|16||21||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham-Renault||66||+1 Lap||18|
|17||19||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||66||+1 Lap||14|
|18||10||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||66||+1 Lap||19|
|19||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault||65||+2 Laps||16|
|20||25||Charles Pic||Marussia-Cosworth||65||+2 Laps||20|
|21||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||64||+3 Laps||23|
|22||24||Timo Glock||Marussia-Cosworth||64||+3 Laps||22|
|23||23||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT-Cosworth||64||+3 Laps||24|
|Ret||4||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||56||+11 Laps||7|
Note: Sebastian Vettel penalised 20 seconds for illegal overtaking manouevre