Mark Webber managed to finish third at the German Grand Prix just behind Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton who placed first. Hometown favorite Sebastian Vettel remains atop the F1 Drivers’ Championship standings despite his fourth place finish.
In the early stages, an Alonso mistake let Vettel back through before a brave overtake saw the 2005 and 2006 world champion regain third. An uncharacteristic spin from Seb, who looked off all weekend, then meant that Hamilton, Webber and Alonso split from the rest at the front.
Behind them, Felipe Massa showed excellent pace and guile to pass Vettel for fourth and hold the reigning world champion at bay as his pace improved.
Meanwhile, Renault’s Nick Heidfeld found himself in the wars, a clash that ended Force India driver Paul Di Resta’s afternoon early earning the German a drive-through penalty that he was unable to take before a second coming-together, this time with Sébastien Buemi, put him permanently in a gravel trap, while Buemi’s Toro Rosso limped on with a right rear puncture. The Swiss was later handed a five-place grid penalty for the next race in Hungary over the incident.
In a race with a surprisingly high attrition rate, Jenson Button, battling valiantly back from a poor start, was a high-profile casualty as the McLaren team decided to retire his car as a precaution after apparent hydraulic problems.
The first round of pitstops for soft tires saw Webber leapfrog Hamilton – the second stops, again for softs, gave Hamilton the advantage back, with Alonso an ever-present threat, but as the mandatory change for harder option tyres loomed, those on the pitwall were faced with a tricky decision on when to make their move. With abnormally low track temperatures of around 15 degrees at the Nürburgring, no one was quite sure how well the new rubber would respond…
McLaren blinked first, and it turned out to be a great decision
McLaren blinked first, and it turned out to be a great decision from Martin Whitmarsh and co, as Hamilton immediately showed good pace. Alonso and Ferrari were next, as the pitcrews dived in and out of the pitlane on a lap-by-lap basis, with Webber and Red Bull last to make the change, all of which left Hamilton home and dry and Alonso up to second, Webber once again having to settle for a solid points haul with third.
But Red Bull did benefit from a late mistake by the Ferrari team. Despite a missed radio call to come in a lap ahead of Massa for new tires, when Vettel followed the Brazilian in on the very last lap, a slow stop from the boys in red meant Seb indeed stole fourth place from the hapless Massa at the death to keep his points lead in the championship a massive one.
Further back, Force India’s Adrian Sutil was a commendable sixth in his home race, while the all-German Mercedes pairing of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, for whom a spin off a piece of soaking-wet astro turf ruined his early progress, were seventh and eighth. Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber and the sole remaining Renault of Vitaly Petrov completed the top 10.
German Grand Prix podium
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren – 1:37:30.334
2. Fernando Alonso (SPA), Ferrari – +3.9 secs
3. Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull – +9.7 secs
F1 Drivers’ Championship standings
1. Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull – 216pts
2. Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull – 139pts
3. Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren – 134pts
4. Fernando Alonso (SPA), Ferrari – 130pts
5. Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren – 109pts
F1 Constructors’ Championship standings
1. Red Bull – 355pts
2. McLaren – 243pts
3. Ferrari – 192pts
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