German GP – Cool, calm and collected, Fernando Alonso wins in Germany
Hockenheim, 22 July – Fernando Alonso produced another amazing drive to take his third win of the season to extend his lead to over 30 points in the Drivers’ championship, over his closest rival, Mark Webber, who crossed the line down in eighth place. In the other F2012, Felipe Massa had an another unlucky race, which began with a collision soon after the start, that forced him to pit for a new nose. The Brazilian rejoined twenty first and managed to finish the race in twelfth spot. Alonso had a very difficult race, but managed to keep the lead throughout: he made a rocket-like start after which the Spaniard perfectly managed the gap over first Vettel in the Red Bull and then Button in the McLaren, the time always staying around the one second mark. At the end, the English McLaren driver saw second slip from his grasp with a few laps remaining, finishing third behind the home grown hero, Sebastian Vettel.
The next round of the championship takes place in just one week’s time at the Hungaroring, in Hungary, before the usual summer break begins.
German GP – Alonso the missile, Felipe the misfortunate
Hockenheim, 22 July – The F1 dictionary is beginning to run out of superlatives to describe Fernando Alonso’s performances this season, so let’s describe his win in today’s German Grand Prix, as superlative! Having taken pole in the rain yesterday, keeping the advantage through 67 dry laps today was never a foregone conclusion, but fighting off intense pressure, the Ferrari man actually led from start to finish to record his third win of the season. His team-mate Felipe Massa was less fortunate: starting in the always risky mid-field, the Brazilian was involved in an accident that meant he had to make an immediate visit to pit lane, on the opening lap, to change the nose on the F2012. He worked his way back up to twelfth at the flag. For his third German GP win, Alonso was joined on the podium by Sebastian Vettel, second for Red Bull and Jenson Button, third in the McLaren.
Finally after all that rain, as the cars lined up on the grid, it looked something like a perfect summer’s day with sunny skies and some fluffy white clouds and an air temperature approaching the mid-twenties. As the lights went out, Fernando made the most of the F2012’s great launch off the line and led away almost unchallenged, but Felipe required a nose change at the end of lap 1 following a collision. Hamilton also had to bring the McLaren in with a puncture on lap 3.
On lap 4, Fernando had Vettel’s Red Bull in close formation behind him and then there was a gap of almost four seconds to third placed Schumacher in the Mercedes, and behind came Hulkenberg in the Force India, then Maldonaldo, Webber, Raikkonen, Di Resta and Perez, the Mexican making up up seven places, completing the top ten. Lap 8 and Button got his McLaren ahead of Hulkenberg to take fourth. Button then passed Schumacher for third on lap 10, as Di Resta began the first run of pit stops. At the front, Fernando had a 1.3 lead over Vettel, while Felipe’s early troubles saw him down in 19th place.
Hulkenberg, Webber and Rosberg all pitted on lap 12 while Maldonaldo came in from sixth on Lap 13 in the Williams. Schumacher pitted on lap 14 from fourth place in the Mercedes, coming out to get the better of Hulkenberg, which also saw Raikkonen get past the Force India. Fernando ran a bit wide at a corner on lap 17 so the team brought him in immediately for his first tyre change on the F2012, taking on the harder Medium tyres for a longer second stint. Lap 19 and Button brought his McLaren in, followed by Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso. Vettel pitted on lap 20 which meant he was still second, 3.3 seconds now behind Fernando, while Sauber’s Kobayashi was third, the only driver who had not yet changed tyres until he eventually came in on lap 22. Felipe came in from 16th place on lap 24 to change tyres.
In this part of the race, it seemed that Vettel was faster than the Spanish Ferrari driver and on lap 27, only one second separated the two leaders. One lap later, the German was close enough to start using his DRS and on lap 29, the gap was just 0.7 and closing. On lap 31, the two men came up to lap a Marussia which gave Fernando a bit of breathing space as the gap went back to 1.1. Profiting from this Spanish-German battle was Jenson Button in third, who had brought his McLaren to within 2.8 seconds of the Red Bull and was lapping faster than the leaders. On lap 34, just over half-distance, Felipe was having a lonely race in fourteenth. Lap 35 and now Fernando’s mirrors went from blue to silver, as although well down the order, one lap down, Hamilton, on fresher tyres, got his McLaren ahead of Vettel to take station behind Alonso. Schumacher was the first of the front runners to make his second pit stop from fifth place on lap 36. Lap 41 and Button pitted, followed by Perez from fifth and Webber from eighth.
The next lap was a key moment as Fernando dived into pit lane with Red Bull covering the Ferrari move bringing Vettel in at the same time. But as the two men emerged from pit lane, Button was able to pull alongside the German to take second place, with the three leaders all on the Medium tyre and set to go all the way to the chequered flag. Button was now close enough to use DRS and with 20 laps remaining, the McLaren was effectively riding on the Ferrari’s rear wing, while further back, Felipe made his third and final stop on lap 48. While Vettel drifted back from the leading two, Button was only 0.6 behind Fernando with ten laps remaining, but after dealing with some backmarkers, Fernando managed the gap, extending it enough to look comfortable for the final laps. However Vettel had put together a late charge and on the penultimate lap, he got past the McLaren, using rather more than just the race track to do so to take second place. His Red Bull team still heads the Constructors’ classification on 238 points, with the Scuderia second, reducing the gap from 64 to 61 points, while pulling further away from McLaren in third. As for Fernando, he now has 154 points at the top of the Drivers’ classification, 34 more than Mark Webber who came home in eighth place today.
We have now completed half the season, but the F1 circus cannot pause for breath just yet as it now moves further east to tackle the Hungarian Grand Prix in just seven days time, the final race before the summer break.
After the race, the Stewards investigated Vettel’s penultimate lap move on Button and gave him a 20 second penalty that drops him to fifth place. This means that Button is now second, ahead of Raikkonen and Kobayashi.