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.

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

  1. Sean said on 24th July 2011, 21:06

    When Gilles drove like Lewis did today, the world adored him for it. Very few drivers have had the audacity to make that outside pass, or to keep pushing to set fastest lap at the end of a race that was already in the bag, or, in most cases, even be in that race against super-strong packages like Webber and Alonso. Given where McLaren have been, where Button was, and how strong RBR and Ferrari have come on, I thought third would be a strong result for him today. That was a remarkable drive in a nailbiter of a race.

  2. Tom L. said on 24th July 2011, 21:22

    Funny how all the people who were saying what a good idea it was to get Chandhok in the Lotus have all gone quiet…

    • Deurmat said on 24th July 2011, 22:30

      exactly, I couldn’t understand that people said last year that Chandok was a better driver than Senna. They were as far as I am concerned very evenly matched with Senna slightly better. I hope that Senna can impresses/proves me wrong next weekend.
      Chandhok also said that he had no or little problem with the car’s power steering, what is supposed to be Trulli’s excuse.

      • Tom L. said on 25th July 2011, 10:46

        “Chandhok also said that he had no or little problem with the car’s power steering”

        Well that reflects even worse on Chandhok unfortunately… he had no issues with the steering and still managed to finish a lap behind a guy in his second ever GP, driving an HRT…

    • Gabriel said on 25th July 2011, 3:17

      Once upon a time, there is great races cars, named Lotus, but now they are moving quibble

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 25th July 2011, 22:34

      A bit premature to really judge what Chandhok can or can’t deliver. Let’s be realistic.

  3. shadow13 (@shadow13) said on 24th July 2011, 21:25

    It was a very good race and a good drive by Hamilton but his pass on Alonso was not brilliant. The Ferrari just had cold tires, as we all know. Also I think the top 3 teams were all relatively equal today. Alonso and Hamilton drove well and Webber was decent. I don’t think anyone can say that Vettel and Alosno only look good beacuse they’ve got poor teammates. For a start Alsonso is a 2 time world champion, and Vettel is a world champion. Button is a very average driver who in 2009 was in comfortably the best car with an uncompetitive team-mate. In my opinion all the top 3 teams have a number 1 and a number 2. Also on a different note, Chandhok was woeful so now hopefully they will give Trulli his seat back.

    • DaveW said on 24th July 2011, 21:44

      Hamilton had cold tires when he fended off Webber coming out of the pits. So if Hamilton’s pass was not skillful then Alonso’s defense was inadequate.

      • Franz said on 24th July 2011, 21:47

        +1 DaveW. You don’t just drive around the outside of Fernando Alonso without it taking a great deal of skill… cold tires on the Ferrari or not.

        • Kelly (@kelly) said on 25th July 2011, 1:25

          Alonso made a mistake with Hamilton. Hamilton made no such mistake with Webber. No magical skill in that one really.

          • Jay said on 25th July 2011, 1:39

            Good drive from Lewis this weekend, he made the most of the conditions. Very well done.

            The pass on Alonso, well..in my opinion, we know the Ferrari needs a couple laps to get the tyres up to temp, so that was a factor. Hamilton and Webber were carrying so much more pace coming down the straight..that was the next factor..the third factor was that Alonso actually made a slight mistake coming out to turn 1. Good pass by Lewis.

            If the track was warmer yesterday, Alonso would have won.

            I guess Vettel drove a mature race today. Why throw points away when he could afford to stay where he was? I dont think Vettel’s been put in a position where he needs to pass to win yet, so I think it may be a little unfair to write him off just yet.

  4. skd said on 24th July 2011, 22:15

    where are all the people saying Button is better than Hammy now?

  5. th14 said on 24th July 2011, 22:20

    FACT: Vettel is woeful in traffic.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th July 2011, 23:08

      Whenever someone writes ‘fact’ in capital letters like that, what follows it is invariably an opinion being presented as a fact.

      • th14 said on 24th July 2011, 23:13

        Thanks for the lesson but i think its quite obvious that it was my opinion being presented in a way that will provoke debate.

    • Kelly (@kelly) said on 25th July 2011, 1:59

      FACT: He didn’t crash like a lot of people suspected he would.

      Seriously though I’m not a Vettel fan but I thought it was a good drive by him after a tough weekend. Got it home in a respectable fourth and didn’t lose too much of his WDC lead and more points for the constructors.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 25th July 2011, 4:19

        This is true but did he show himself to be better than Webber in those circumstances? I don’t think so.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 25th July 2011, 7:03

          Indeed, Webber had the better of him here. Shame about at least 8 of the other races this year..

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 25th July 2011, 13:36

            But as I pointed out earlier on this kind of track ie.not a go-kart track, the RB7 needs to be out in front to shine, once behind a top3 car it loses its advantages, Webber has not had the clear track advantage due to his poor starts and reliability problems, but has made some passes this year.

  6. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 24th July 2011, 22:58

    Hamilton was superb today. Senna-esque performance with brave overtake moves, raw speed, that yellow helmet in a mclaren, it gave me goose bumps.

  7. 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 25th July 2011, 0:17

    Vettel drove today like a man who didn’t want to risk a dumb collision, OK he struggled for pace all weekend but really thats his worse race since Spa 2010.
    luckily he got out of jail only losing 3pts of his lead. Webber will be annoyed, he smashed Vettel all weekend yet only gained 3pts and i hope Vettel won’t be as bad in the future races so he should be better off next time.

    • th14 said on 25th July 2011, 1:09

      or he drove like a man who doesn’t have what it takes to make the pass even when its to his advantage. it was clear that he was faster than massa especially when he was setting fastest laps but just couldn’t go anywhere with his pace

      • Kelly (@kelly) said on 25th July 2011, 1:31

        Massa was doing what was needed to keep Vettel from the front and certainly had the speed of the top 3 when he needed it. Hopefully we see more of that in the coming races.

        MVP for the race: Massa.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 25th July 2011, 4:26

        I think it is the nature of the car, out front it makes up time through the twisties but loses on the straights, with a car in front it can’t gain time in the twisties but still loses on the straights.Webber has to go to starting school and Vettel has to get back on pole, although now he can afford not to.

  8. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 25th July 2011, 2:17

    Great race some great move in the non DRS zone.The battle between the top was great to watch as they were fighting hard & no one was sure who will be in the lead.I think Ferrari may have made a error while Massa was leading after the top 3 second pit stop they could have left Massa for a lap or two more so that he could slow down the leader & help Alonso to attack who was in the tail of the leader.
    The biggest loser was Webber a bad error by the team by bringing him way too soon for his second stop as they could have stayed out as his lap time was good & again should have come early for the third stop.
    Hamilton fought hard & for the last two race we have seen the real Hamilton.He was aggressive,especially his pass on Webber & Alonso shows that.Last lap pit stop was fun.Karun was very disspointing,I hope he is not given any more chance by Lotus,his car is very well capable of going ahead of HRT & Virgin.
    Good race for Kobayashi & Sutil but Schumacher always have good race pace but then makes a silly mistake which make me think whether he is 7 times WC!

  9. Mike (@mike) said on 25th July 2011, 3:52

    I think Hungary is going to be very interesting. The Red Bull once again produces the most down force (like last year) and last year, their advantage at Hungary was astonishing. If Ferrari or Mclaren (with their apparent great low speed handling) can match Red Bull there, I think we can consider the championship still a contest.

    • David BR said on 25th July 2011, 5:12

      That’s true. On the other hand, if Vettel bags another 25 there, it really is all over.

  10. Rob said on 25th July 2011, 4:03

    Interesting race and lots to see, and loved seeing Alonso jump on the Webber’s car at the end.. one thing for me this race highlighted to me was Vettel’s insufficiency as a complete ‘racer’, and while his ability does mean he can become a WDC – I don’t feel this means he is the ‘best racer’. He is definitely a brilliant ‘time trialer’ – virtually unbeatable in perfect conditions on an empty track.

    But when it comes to racecraft, dealing with traffic, trying to overtake a Massa (who I feel would been overtaken by Webber had the roles been reversed) it’s certainly a little less than shiny. To emphasise this, the pit-wall communique telling Vettel to not get too hot under the helmet behind Massa (I can’t imagine ever witnessing the same being told to Webber – a classy racer with overtaking credentials)….

    The fact that Vettel’s pass came in the pit stop just shows me that while he’s fast in a bubble/upfront etc, he’s not yet complete.

    I’d love to see a contact vs overtaking attempts ratio between the leading drivers actually…

    Gutted for Button…

  11. suka (@suka) said on 25th July 2011, 7:16

    For whatever reasons the race turned like this (Hamilton skills, Alonso skills, Webber skills, Vettel skills…), I am just grateful to have the season the way it is now.

  12. antonyob said on 25th July 2011, 8:53

    lets not forget the transgressions from Alonso and Hamilton. I hope Coulthard also noticed and reported the vigorous shaking of a cable fence by Lewis.

    Excellent co commentator, bit of an old woman tho.

  13. katederby (@katederby) said on 25th July 2011, 9:02

    Vettel has been excellent all year and at a time when he had few mechanical issues and the RB7 was the pick of the bunch.
    Lucky? No, skilful but… had his spin on the wet limits of the track been at a circuit with walls such as Monaco,Canada,Korea then his 4th place would have been a DNF. Now that was lucky!

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