Hamilton comes out on top in three-way battle

2011 German Grand Prix review

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nurburgring, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Nurburgring, 2011

Lewis Hamilton claimed his second Grand Prix win of 2011 in an exhilarating race at the Nurburgring.

Hamilton fought throughout the race with Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber in a battle of wits in the pits and guts on the track.

Three-way battle

Webber bogged down at the start and Hamilton out-dragged him on the run to the first corner. Behind them Alonso dived to the inside and took Vettel for third place.

Vettel briefly took third after Alonso went off at turn two on the second lap. But a few laps later he surrendered the position and shortly after made a mistake of his own, spinning at high speed at the RTL Kurve.

Webber hunted down Hamilton and pounced as the McLaren driver ran wide at the chicane. But Hamilton fought back and squeezed down the inside of Webber going into turn one.

Red Bull strategy got Webber back into the lead – he arrived in the pits before Hamilton and despite being held up on his out lap, was quick enough on his next tour to get ahead.

Hamilton emerged from the pits with Alonso in his wheel tracks to find Webber in front of him, chasing Felipe Massa, who was yet to pit, into turn one.

The strategy that worked for Webber at the first round of pit stops failed the second time – Hamilton came out narrowly ahead of the Red Bull, edging Webber onto the kerbs at turn two to stay ahead.

But the next time by Alonso, who had been third, emerged from the pits ahead of both of them. Hamilton was close at hand and drew along the outside of the Ferrari at turn two.

This was the moment that decided the race. Alonso gave Hamilton more room than Webber had received, and the McLaren was through into the lead.

Last-lap pit stops

Hamilton made a rapid escape, pulling out more than a second on Alonso over the rest of the lap. Despite knowing he would need to make a final stop to switch to the much slower medium tyres, Hamilton drew away from his two pursuers.

The teams had been wary of switching to the harder tyres, but in the end it proved not quite as slow as they had expected. This time Hamilton was the first of the three to pit, and though Alonso stayed out hoping the McLaren would hit trouble, it proved to be in vain.

Vettel arrived in fourth after a troubled race, part of which was spent with the brake bias wound forward due to a problem with his car. He spent over half the race tracking Massa’s Ferrari, trying to find a way past.

The pair finally made their switch to medium tyres together on the final lap. A slow change by Massa’s crew handed Vettel fourth place.

Button retires

Their battle should have been joined by Jenson Button, who made a late first pit stop having been stuck behind Vitaly Petrov after the start. But he retired with an hydraulic problem shortly before half distance.

Adrian Sutil finished sixth after a great drive in his home race, the highest driver to finish using two pit stops. That elevated him on front of the two Mercedes drivers.

Michael Schumacher had been looking for a way past his team mate when he had a very similar spin to Vettel at the same corner. He finished 9.9 seconds behind Nico Rosberg.

Kamui Kobayashi rose to ninth from 17th on the grid and Vitaly Petrov claimed the final point after running a long first stint which saw him lose several places.

Just outside the points were Sergio Perez and Jaime Alguersuari. Paul di Resta finished less than half a second behind the Toro Rosso after being tipped into a spin by Nick Heidfeld on the first lap.

Heidfeld later retired after tangling with the other Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi, who squeezed him off on the approach to the chicane. Buemi picked up a puncture and finished 15th behind Pastor Maldonado.

Heikki Kovalainen with 16th, two laps in front of Karun Chandhok, the last runner who had a spin during the race.

In between them were the Virgins of Timo Glock and Jerome D’Ambrosio, and the sole HRT of Daniel Ricciardo. His team mate joined Rubens Barrichello in retirement earlier on.

Hamilton’s win has made little difference to Vettel’s points margin. Any of the top three finishers might hope this is a turning point in their seasons, but they’re going to have to do a lot more winning before Vettel has anything to worry about.

2011 German Grand Prix

Browse all 2011 German Grand Prix articles

Image ?é?® McLaren

Advert | Go Ad-free

133 comments on Hamilton comes out on top in three-way battle

  1. I think Vettel had already surrendered his position before spinning, am I wrong?

  2. Fixy (@fixy) said on 24th July 2011, 16:42

    I knew it. I knew Massa’s stop would have been disastrous. I knew Vettel would have passed Massa after the he was behind all the race because of the mechanics. It’s not the first time this year Massa’s stops go badly.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 24th July 2011, 16:44

      It really seems like those are bound to happen for Massa, doesn’t it.

      • rayan said on 25th July 2011, 4:38

        ss bcoz ferrari concentrate only on one driver…not as mclaren or redbull the teams create way for their drivers to move forward…but ferrari uses massa as a prey for alonso almost in every race..

    • Antranik (@antranik) said on 24th July 2011, 16:50

      Ferrari really need to get their pitstops sorted out…

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 24th July 2011, 16:53

      I have to agree with you. Just one pit stop for Alonso was good today. the others were not good, Massa’s last one was disastrous.

    • David BR said on 24th July 2011, 16:54

      Two precious Alonso-points handed to Vettel.

    • If Ferrari carry on like this there pit crew will be the joke of the paddock again like in the early 90s.

    • antifia said on 25th July 2011, 8:23

      El Sonso is drinving way better than Massa, no doubt about that, but one wonders how resources are allocated these days at Ferrari. Massa’s mechanics seem to wear left-hand gloves in both hands – they’ve done well when they screw just one of Massa’s stops up in a race.

      • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 26th July 2011, 8:49

        One of Massa’s earlier stops was 3.2 seconds, tying the best pit stop time of the race, they just seem to always choke on his car under pressure.

        Massa drove really well today, keeping Vettel behind and should have had 4th.

        If Ferrari could get their pit work more consistent they would have had 4th and could have had 1st as well.

  3. BasCB (@bascb) said on 24th July 2011, 16:44

    Small typo Keith,

    That elevated him on front of the two Mercedes drivers.

    should be “in front of…”

  4. David BR said on 24th July 2011, 16:44

    Webber hunted down Hamilton and pounced as the McLaren driver ran wide at the chicane.

    i.e. the moment his engineer chose to have a radio chat, just as Webber was closing in on him! As Hamilton pointed out I think…

    • Mike said on 24th July 2011, 22:35

      But that message would have been delayed by much more than that, it would have been before that incident.

      • David BR said on 24th July 2011, 23:04

        Really? But why did Hamilton then ask his team not to talk to him while he’s racing? (!) At least that’s how it was reported on Brazilian TV.

        • Mike (@mike) said on 25th July 2011, 3:49

          When we hear a radio message it is delayed quite a bit. It could be an exception and the message was aired live, but I think that is highly unlikely.

          In my opinion it is more likely the message was radioed even up to a lap before hand, and it was just coincidental timing to match up when Hamilton made the mistake.

  5. Duckduckgo said on 24th July 2011, 16:47

    Force India showed that the pace in FPs was not gifted. Sutil had a wonderful drive.

  6. Eggry (@eggry) said on 24th July 2011, 16:48

    Great 3-way battle. Now I wish this continues. of course there’s no place for Vettel, I hope!

    • Doance (@doance) said on 25th July 2011, 4:20

      As long as Vettel is part of the three man battle, instead of him having a one man race. We saw a 3-way-battle in Valencia although Vettel always looked most likely to win.

  7. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 24th July 2011, 16:51

    But a few laps later he surrendered the position with a mistake of his own, spinning at high speed at the RTL Kurve.

    Actually Alonso overtook him before he spun out.

  8. Mitchtj said on 24th July 2011, 16:52

    Vettel showed off his amazing overtaking ability in the pits.

  9. brum55 said on 24th July 2011, 16:55

    Alonso overtook Vettel before Vettel spun off.

  10. Where are the hamilton haters today :-). care to congratulate him for a brilliant performance. His overtake on Alonso was awesome!

    • DASNAN said on 24th July 2011, 17:25

      Was a good performance and good overtake, however Alonso was a sitting duck on cold tires. Hamilton had so much better drive and was already ahead of Alonso at the point Alonso could have squeezed him off the track.

      Glad to see Ferrari doing well in cold conditions tho!

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 24th July 2011, 17:27

      If you’re a Hamilton fan, Why do you find Hamilton haters?

    • mikef117 said on 24th July 2011, 17:37

      Speaking as a Hamilton fan he had a great race and deserves the praise, but I would not celebrate too much yet as I think his pace was more down to him/the team calling the weather right….and we all know how successful you can be at that.

      Just my personal opinion of course, but I suspect that RB went for a wet set up, like Button and as it didn’t rain they were compromised – I think this is the problem Vettel had, cooling his brakes.

      Let’s see if next week in Hungary he can still be in front of Ferrari (who we know don’t like cold weather as trouble to warm up the tyres) and within touching distance of RBR.

      I do think the “myth” that Vettel cannot overtake is becoming less of a myth every race he is not on pole though.

      • Alistair said on 24th July 2011, 17:51

        The cooler temperatures certainly helped; but the overtakes, defensive driving, tyre management, and outright speed were Lewis’s (as shown by Button’s performance, Button who was not on a wet set-up and mystified by the gap to Lewis.)

        I don’t think RBR were on a wet setup. First, we’d have heard that excuse. Second, why do they all look and sound worried: McLaren and Ferrari have caught them up; hence, Vettel’s mistakes.

        I have always said that Vettel can’t overtake. Compare him with Lewis! I have also said that he is an unknown, because his only benchmark is Webber, whom he has struggled to beat sometimes, especially last year; and we all know that Webber is not first rate.

        • Q85 said on 24th July 2011, 19:28

          as good as the pass on fernando was, it really wasnt the mega pass it was being made to be. Ferrari take 4-5 laps to get its tyres going. so it was pretty expected. And fernando isnt the sort of driver that will just drive you clean off the road in those situations either. He plays the long game.

          Fair play to him for making it stick tho. great drive

          But I do feel he must remember the good days like today when he has his next bad day and comes out with comments that put members of his team down.

        • juan fanger (@juan-fanger) said on 25th July 2011, 8:24

          Sorry, we don’t all know that “Webber is not first rate”.

          He has outperformed every teammate for many years – until Vettel who is undoubtedly the fastest driver in the field. Yes, faster even than Hamilton (read the WDC tables for the last 3 years), but apparently not very good at overtaking.

          But then, Hamilton has his problems with overtaking, too. Disastrous and dangerous at Monaco, he also ineptly shoved Webber off the track at Canada and gave him another tap at Germany to stop him going past. Perhaps it’s Hamilton who is not first rate?

          • antifia said on 25th July 2011, 8:45

            But Webber’s former teamates were not that impressive, were they? Coultard, Pizzonia…

          • boris the one-eyed wallaby said on 25th July 2011, 14:19

            antifia – Webbo also saw off both Quick Nick Heidfeld and Britney Rosberg and they’re a useful benchmark: Nick matched Kubica over a couple of seasons and Nico is consistently beating Micky Shoe.

            Perhaps Webber is the 2nd best driver of the last 10 years! (behind Vettel)

        • antifia said on 25th July 2011, 9:03

          A less partisan read of the race would perhaps recognise that everybody was having troubles overtaking yesterday (a worring sign concerning the direction Pireli is going). Button spent a third of the race before he could overtake a very slow Renault in front of him. Massa spent the same amount of time behind Rosberg. The three guys in front could not once overtake each other either (except for that move of LH in special circunstances). Looking at Vettel, he was in a situation that, for his detractors, it was like shooting fish in a barrel: If he went all guns blazing against Massa and broke a wing or something (something that he could expect Massa to accidentally inflict on him, given how welcome it would be for Alonso’s chances in the championship) they would be trashing him today. If, on the other hand, he did the smart thing under the circunstance, and minimized his losses, as he did, they can come and accuse him of not having race craft and all that. The guy gets once outside the podium (just) and he is rubish.

    • Gill said on 24th July 2011, 17:42

      I am a Ham hater but I love F1 and Ham drove brilliantly whole weekend. No doubt. Had the track temperature a bit more, this could have been different :)

    • alex said on 24th July 2011, 20:22

      After some poor races and mistakes, a great race. Congrats to Hamilton, definitely.

    • Klaas (@klaas) said on 25th July 2011, 6:31

      Where are the Hamilton haters today? Probably in the same place as Hamilton fans last weekend :)

  11. jake said on 24th July 2011, 17:31

    the renaults love flying around in the air dont they..

  12. Alistair said on 24th July 2011, 17:42

    Amazing drive from Lewis. In the third best car (so 5th or 6th when we consider no: 2s), he managed to make some amazing* and crucial overtakes and defensive moves against inherently faster machinery, as well as look after his tyres throughout. Vettel wins are processions and boring: good driver; best car by a mile. Lewis wins are often sensational: best driver by a mile; good car.

    Whereas Vettel (who was hopeless today) and Alonso have no proper benchmark at their teams, and so it’s easy to shine there, Lewis has a previous champ in the other Mclaren; and in both qualifying and the race, Lewis outclassed him. Those crucial overtakes that only Lewis can do and his sheer outright speed put him above Jenson.

    *when was the last time a driver passed Alonso round the outside….? Was it Lewis at his first ever race? I haven’t seen that too often…

    • brum55 said on 24th July 2011, 18:19

      McLaren were as good as the Red Bulls as they have been many times this season. Ferrari were fast but the amount of time it took to heat the tyres was a clear weakness and cost them the victory as it made Alonso a sitting duck for Hamilton.

      It is just unfortunate that Hamilton drove so poorly in the two races where they were better (Monaco and Canada) as well as not being able to get pass Vettel, who was struggling with KERS in Spain. He could be 50 pts nearer to Vettel than he currently is. He hammered Jenson today so fair play there.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 24th July 2011, 19:54

        Hey Brum, it’s swings and roundabouts, if you take a long time getting heat in your tyres it usually means they are going to last a lot longer.But sure the top 3 all raced well and very competitive cars.

        • brum55 said on 24th July 2011, 20:35

          Good point but when both Hamilton and Alonso were on their 2nd stint Hamilton was able to lap a second quicker and have a 3s lead by the time Alonso could get his tyres to speed. He enjoyed a similar advantage on the final stint and the difference between the two was 4s by race end (where Lewis posted the fastest lap).

          I’m not trying to discredit Hamilton but the notion that Ferrari was superior to McLaren is wrong. McLaren was as fast as Red Bull due to their ability to generate heat into their tyres quickest which was a great advantage at such a cold track but will hinder them at hotter tracks.

        • SubFl said on 25th July 2011, 0:18

          They are mot as sticky but they still wear especially when sliding and lockup.

    • infy (@infy) said on 24th July 2011, 18:19

      Alonso was on ice cold tires. It would be a worthy overtake if they were in normal racing conditions.

      Ham also probably had the fastest race car here today.

      • joebloggs said on 24th July 2011, 22:17

        Alonso was not on ICE cold tyres. They were probably warmer than the track, having just had their warming blankets taken off. But the comparison between Alonso’s inability to defend against Hamilton compared with Hamilton’s successful defense against Webber is why people are talking about it. And the overhead shot showed that Hamilton was so much quicker at making the move than Webber was, giving Alonso no chance to defend. Therefore, I suspect most of the unbiased world saw it as a very worthy overtake, and one of the moves of the race.

    • Tom said on 24th July 2011, 18:24

      How did you get 3rd best? The RBR wasn’t outstanding this weekend, I’d say it was pretty competitive between the top 3. Differences were mainly down to setup, high top-speed/downforce differences then overall performance differentials.

      Hamilton did a brilliant drive, but there’s no need to make it David vs Goliath. I think most people would agree that in raw pace Button has rarely matched Hamilton, and the Hamilton/Button combination is pretty similar to Vettel/Webber in terms of driver potentials.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 24th July 2011, 18:25

      Fernando and Vettel have no benchmarks in their team? That’s a load of rubbish. Jenson is a circumstancial WDC, and I think Alonso or Vettel would ‘shine’ as much as Lewis is if they were paired up against Jenson.

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 24th July 2011, 19:25

      I believe great drivers shine much more when they have proper benchmark. Not to mention Webber and Massa are good benchmarks.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 24th July 2011, 20:01

        I think this weekend showed the RBs achilles heel, that is being fast through the corners but slow on the straights is not a good strategy unless you are in front. Webber has no-one but himself to blame for his starts but today we saw that Vettel can’t do any better with reasonably quick cars in front of him.

    • F1 98 said on 24th July 2011, 23:35

      I think

      Hamilton=Senna. Alonso=prost

      Vettel=schumacher. Webber=Mansell

      I’m still a fan of Alonso though senna is the best

    • IceMan said on 25th July 2011, 5:46

      I don’t think McLaren were third best car in this race. They were on par with RedBulls and slightly faster than Ferrari on cold tyres. If they were the third fastest ideally he should have blown away everyone in all the races or atleast ended up in podiums. We should not get carried away. Excellent drive from Hamilton though. Way to go Lewis.

  13. ralph schumi said on 24th July 2011, 19:02

    Vet FAILED to pass Massa, FAILED to pass Ham in the last race. He ended up having to pass them in the pits. How can Vet fans still argue that this boy can overtake? The only car je overtakes easily is Webbers, probably becausr RBR have places a button in his cockpit that boosts his car n retards marks car!!
    The top 3 in F1 right now r HAM,ALO,VET(only because vet can qualify better than webber for some reason but in race mode, mark can do more)

    My brothet , MSC needs to come join me in DTM

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 24th July 2011, 19:23

      The top 3 in F1 right now r HAM,ALO,VET(only because vet can qualify better than webber for some reason but in race mode, mark can do more)

      I wouldn’t say that part in bold (or that bit about “boosts” and “retards”. This is the first time in 15 races that Mark’s finished ahead.

      • David BR said on 24th July 2011, 20:05

        But the 2nd consecutive race he’s beaten him in qualfying. So whatever the reason, it looks like Webber’s back to fighting with Vettel on equal terms, which can only be ominous for Vettel and Red Bull with Alonso and Hamilton chasing hard and Button lurking to take important points too (unlike Massa, sadly).

        • Todfod (@todfod) said on 25th July 2011, 9:36

          I’m guessing its the engine mapping and EBD restrictions that are helping Mark make a comeback. He didn’t gain the same amount of advantage that Seb gained from it.

          • Robbie said on 25th July 2011, 13:37

            Brundle hinted at one factor that is helping MW these days…the Pirelli’s are getting more durable and when he (MB) mentioned that to MW prior to the race, MW said that for sure that is helping him…guess he struggled more with tires that fall off quickly and then are nowhere for him.

    • katederby (@katederby) said on 24th July 2011, 21:47

      Not sure when I’ve seen Vettel overtake Webber and never mind “easily”… often it’s because Vettel has qualified ahead of Webber that he doesn’t need to.

      Great race though, 3 drivers battling and no crashing, good stuff.

    • antifia said on 25th July 2011, 8:32

      Mark do more on race mode? That doesn’t hold water, does it? Out of 10 races this year, Vettel outscored Mark in 9. Concerning the passes, well, nobody was passing anybody (except for that pass of LH on FA when the later’s tyres were still cold). Webber sat behind LH and then FA for the entire race and nobody comes up with this thing about him not being able to overtake.

      • Sally said on 25th July 2011, 8:46

        Perhaps because he has actually spent a lot of time at the rear end and the mid field earlier in his career and proved he can. Seriously, get a clue.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 25th July 2011, 13:24

        and perhaps because he came from 18th. to the podium in China for those new to the sport or short of memory.

        • antifia said on 25th July 2011, 13:37

          You guys are going to milk that for all it is worth, aren’t you? What you seem to forget is that Vettel overtook all the slower cars in front of him this race (just like Webber did in China) and only got stuck behind a Ferrari – oh, wait, wasn’t it just like Webber? And Sally, the 10 out of 9 remain uncommented – add to that the fact that Seb also beat Mark in the previous 2 years and I don’t think it is those who say that Vettel is a better racer than Webber that are the clueless ones.

  14. Cacarella (@cacarella) said on 24th July 2011, 19:03

    We might have been robbed of a more exciting finish between HAM and ALO, if the Ferrari didn’t have enough fuel to make it to the podium Fernando may have been in ‘conserve fuel’ mode for the last 8 or so laps.

    OR, It’s just wishful thinking.

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 24th July 2011, 19:20

      Aonso said fuel did not compromise battle with Hamilton just not fast enough with medium tyre. However, yes, I guess he could be faster later part of last-soft stint as former ones. But he was barely faster than Hamilton at the moment. So it’s possible he was already suffered from low fuel.

    • Lee said on 24th July 2011, 22:14

      I was quite surprised their was no punishment for stopping on the circuit. I was sure that the rules were changed (or at least clarified) after Hamilton stopped (I think in Canada last year). I thought the drivers now had to make it back to the pits with the required fuel?

      Can anyone confirm if this is or is not the case?

      • antifia said on 25th July 2011, 8:37

        I was under the same impression, but given that up to now nobody from the organization, the teams and the media taked about it and Alonso is still 2nd, I believe we were both mistaken.

  15. DaveW said on 24th July 2011, 19:59

    The key was the re-pass. The McLaren is slow on full tanks and if Webber had got by early Hamilton would have lost a lot of time before his tires came in, maybe too much. The way Hamilton just drove down on the paint on the inside, it could have been a big wreck, but he isn’t taking no in these situations. The pass on Alonso was not academic. Hamilton looked took a very square corner taking the angle a car coming out of the pits could not. Also, he only won by a couple seconds, and when you look at the couple scruffy moments for Alonso in RTL Kurve, being squeaky clean also helped Hamilton win. Also, VMM, for a change, blazing pit stops. That won the race as much as Hamilton’s heroics.

    • David BR said on 24th July 2011, 20:15

      The pass on the inside by the pit wall was phenomenal, Webber seemed almost to wobble in surprise as he realized too late what was happening. The pass on Alonso managed to combine aggression and technical perfection, and again unexpected. And both were reminiscent of how he recovered his position against Button last year at the Istanbul GP, only this time virtually instantly.

    • Younger Hamii said on 25th July 2011, 0:25

      I’ve really hated your Anti-Hamilton Comments last year and this comment is another but i actually Agree with you,Lewis was a bit fortunate today,im not gonna go beyond that statement because im a Lewis and McLaren fan but the great start wasnt lucky,the overtakes werent lucky they were all down to Lewis’ Abilities and Aggressive,Passionate Race Craft that adds to his raw speed that creates a Conclusion that Lewis Hamilton deserved this Victory and was brilliant all round

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.