Alonso resists Vettel and Button to win in Germany

2012 German Grand Prix review

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Hockenheim, 2012Fernando Alonso scored his third victory of 2012 in the German Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver controlled the race from the start despite coming under attack from two different drivers over the course of 67 laps.

Sebastian Vettel took second place off Jenson Button on the penultimate lap of the race.

Vettel doesn’t let Alonso get away

The top four drivers held position at the start but Vettel had to fend off a strong attack from Michael Schumacher at the hairpin. That gave Alonso the chance to make his escape.

Nico Hulkenberg held fourth and Button appeared behind him having picked off Pastor Maldonado.

Vettel quickly shook off the Mercedes and went after Alonso. By lap four he had the gap down to just six tenths of a second but wasn’t able to launch an attack on the Ferrari ahead.

Meanwhile Button was making progress. On lap eight he used DRS to attack Hulkenberg, squeezed down the inside of the Spitzkehre hairpin and captured fourth place.

Three laps later he repeated the move on Schumacher for third, and pressed on in pursuit of Alonso and Vettel.

Disaster for Hamilton

By this point the race had already gone disastrously wrong for the other McLaren. Lewis Hamilton had dropped a position to Mark Webber at the start, but that was the least of his problems.

As the cars came around to begin lap two the first turn was littered from a collision which removed Felipe Massa’s front wing.

It seemed inevitable someone would collect a puncture and so it proved. Hamilton twitched wide onto the run-off as his left-rear began to deflate. A slow lap back to the pits destroyed his race.

The rules allow for the cars to be directed through the pit lane during a safety car period which might have avoided the incident. But Hamilton had no objections to the decision not to do this: asked if they safety car should have been summoned, he simply answered “no”.

Perez makes progress

While Hamilton was slipping back Paul di Resta took the opportunity to nip past Kimi Raikkonen. But it didn’t last – Raikkonen took the place back on the outside of lap eight a few laps later.

Shortly afterwards both were in the pits – di Resta ducking in first on lap 11, Raikkonen the next time by to cover the Force India. This sparked off a sequence of defensive pit stops from other drivers but not the lead trio of Alonso, Vettel and Button.

Nor did either of the Saubers pit just yet. Sergio Perez had made excellent progress from 17th on the grid passing Daniel Ricciardo, Kamui Kobayashi and di Resta.

“We stay out,” said his race engineer. “Some people are pitting but it’s too early, Checo.” He eventually came on in the 18th lap, by which time the leaders were also being told to up their pace in anticipation of their first stops.

Hamilton a headache for the leaders

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hockenheim, 2012Alonso came in first on lap 19, discarding his soft tyres for mediums. Button came in on the next lap and did the same, as did Vettel on the lap after that.

Both Alonso’s pursuers were quicker than him at this phase of the race and Vettel started to draw back in range once again. By lap 31 the gap was down to six tenths of a second again.

At this point the cards fell in Alonso’s favour. Coming around to lap Charles Pic the Ferrari driver was able to open his DRS and pull ahead of Vettel, who was unable to clear the Marussia before they reached the Spitzkehre hairpin.

Vettel then had more trouble with an unlikely backmarker: Hamilton. The McLaren driver had emerged from his second pit stop in front of the leaders and was obliged to them past because of the blue flags.

But he was clearly quicker on his fresher tyres and was able to unlap himself from Vettel. The Red Bull driver, who was struggling with a KERS glitch, was not much impressed.

“I don’t see the point in him trying to race us,” said Vettel afterwards. “It is a bit stupid to race the leaders.”

He might have been less put out had Hamilton done the same to Alonso, but Hamilton couldn’t quite make it past the Ferrari, who edged off his line occasionally to dissuade Hamilton from making a move.

Button and Vettel swap places

While Alonso grappled with Hamilton, the other McLaren made for the pits.

He might have done so with gritted teeth a few races ago when McLaren seemed incapable of making a clean pit stop. But these days it’s as if a different crew are changing the tyres and Button was stationery for just 2.31 seconds – a new record.

This was bad news for Vettel as Button used the benefit of his fresh tyres to pass as the Red Bull was accelerating out of the pit lane, defending carefully at the Spitzkehre. Alonso had come in at the same time and now Button’s sights were fixed on the Ferrari.

With 26 laps to go, and aware of Ferrari’s late-race tyre trouble in the last three Grands Prix, Button looked to be in a strong position. Sure enough he closed to within six-tenths of a second of Alonso and looked set to launch an attack.

But as the race wore on the McLaren gradually began to drop back. As the laps ticked down Button’s concern shifted from the Ferrari in front to the Red Bull coming back at him.

Vettel made his move on the penultimate lap. Button made him work for it, covering the inside line and leaving him little space at the exit of the corner. Vettel completed the pass but he had to take to the run-off at the exit of the corner to do it. The stewards were alerted to the move and are considering whether Vettel broke the rules.

Alonso takes the win

Alonso had pushed the limits of the track in places as he pressed on in the lead but there was no threat to his position in the final laps.

Raikkonen was fourth having passed Hulkenberg when the Force India driver was taken by Schumacher, before hunting down and passing the Mercedes.

Schumacher had been running fifth until making a third pit stop on lap 53. That dropped him behind the Saubers but he was unable to take them back before the end of the race.

Webber struggled to make progress from eighth on the grid and finished where he started. The Red Bull’s shortage of straight-line speed was obvious when battling for position.

Hulkenberg and Rosberg scored points in their home race having three-stopped, the Mercedes driver chasing the Force India across the line.

Massa out of the points

Di Resta was 11th ahead of Massa and the two Toro Rossos, who repeated their finishing positions from Silverstone.

Vitaly Petrov was 16th for Caterham ahead of the delayed Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean – both pitted after the first lap, Grosjean having clipped the slowing Massa. The Lotus driver later had a big moment in the gravel at turn 12.

The only driver who failed to finish was Hamilton. He’d voiced a desire to retire earlier in the race before his team encouraged him to try to make it through on just two pit stops. His jousting with the front runners put paid the that, and a third pit stop destroyed all chances of salvaging a result.

As the season passes its halfway point Alonso’s lead is up to 34 points over Webber. Vettel told his team he’d “driven like a lion” to capture second and remains third in the championship, 36 adrift of Alonso.

Update: Vettel demoted to fifth with 20-second penalty

2012 German Grand Prix

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Image ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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59 comments on Alonso resists Vettel and Button to win in Germany

  1. Eggry (@eggry) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:23

    Bad weekend for the team mates of podium finishers. Definitely F2012 wasn’t the fastest but it was fast enough to hold the position and strategy and tyre management made it.

    • JB (@) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:33

      +1

    • Pedro Costa (@pnunocosta) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:34

      I start to believe that the F2012 wasn´t the weakest car in the podium in this race:
      – nobody attacked Alonso, not even Hamilton managed that with much fresher tyres
      – Alonso was lapping a few tenths slower than Massa in the last third of the race in similar conditions
      – Alonso managed his tyres pretty well and I believe he made his best lap on the 64th
      My guess is that the spaniard made a conservative and controlling race and he could have been faster if he wanted to.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 23rd July 2012, 0:06

      As you say a bad day, 3 times this year Webber has had problems that started him behind slower cars and 3 times he has been amongst the 1st. to pit and has been stuck in traffic for the rest of the race, is it Webber or is it the team making the call ? I don’t know but it is time they realised it’s not working.

  2. Manter MBS (@sridharbhanu) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:23

    It was horrible Tyre strategy by Force India. I expected at least 5/6 position…!

  3. carbon_fibre (@carbon_fibre) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:25

    I think it’s safe to say that the three top teams are equal now in terms of performance.Alonso was losing a couple of tenths in the second sector but that’s because Vettel/Button/Hamilton had DRS.

    • @carbon_fibre I’m not sure. The Ferrari still isn’t that great in the dry although it is competitive but Alonso seems to have made the most out of two wet qualifying sessions. The Red Bull seems like a good car now but the Mclaren has made leaps and bounds in the dry. If we’d have had a dry Saturday maybe they’d have had a much better time of it. I think it’s probably close between them all but I still think Alonso’s going to have a really hard fight for this title.

  4. Hamilton and Massa both did fairly well I think to catch up although I was slightly surprised/disappointed in Hamilton defeatist attitude at first. The top 3 were just magnificent and congrats to them all.

    • Dave (@davea86) said on 23rd July 2012, 4:55

      @steph It’s especially surprising when Hamilton un-lapping himself past Vettel surely made a difference for Button, considering how close it was when Button came out in front of Vettel after the second stops. Retiring a car so early in a race closes off a lot of tactical options when he’s being lapped (or un-lapped) or they could use him to gauge a tyre’s performance before Button went on them. Worst case he can make the race a test session for all the upgrades McLaren brought to Germany.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 23rd July 2012, 20:21

      @steph Yeah, it was a little disheartening to hear Hamilton write off the race. Not like him at all. I guess they got some useful info from running and clearly the car is better as Button did so well with it.

  5. nemo87 (@nemo87) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:34

    Did anyone else catch that McLaren set a NEW WORLD RECORD for the fastest ever pit stop @ 2.31s!!!!

  6. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:36

    Alonso has been all but unstoppable so far this year, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him win the championship. If Vettel incurs a penalty it will only help him extend his advantage further, and with his Ferrari’s fanatstic reliability a retirement looks increasingly unlikely. The break will definately prove crucial in seeing which teams can retain their performance level relative to others; I think we may see a repeat of 2010 where Vettel won 3 of the last 4 races to take the championship from Alonso and Webber.

  7. Brace said on 22nd July 2012, 16:41

    There’s justice! Vettel got 20s penalty for his move on Button!

  8. sumedh said on 22nd July 2012, 16:56

    Alonso has been driving brilliantly all year. But it has to be said that he has gotten very lucky as well.
    Every time Alonso has won, no Red Bull (his likeliest title challengers) has been on podium. Extending his advantage over them.
    On the other hand, the three occasions when Red Bulls have won, Alonso has finished 3rd once and 2nd the other time. Limiting his damage every time.

    Meanwhile, Mclaren really need to make up their mind over whom to support for the rest of the year. They have a fast car alright, but both drivers are far adrift of Alonso. The equal-treatment policy will only play into Alonso’s hands.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 22nd July 2012, 17:14

      (Didn’t finish the last post properly)

      Every time Alonso has won, no Red Bull (his likeliest title challengers) has been on podium. Extending his advantage over them.
      On the other hand, the three occasions when Red Bulls have won, Alonso has finished 3rd once and 2nd the other time. Limiting his damage every time.

      That highlights how consistent Alonso has been, rather than lucky. Extending the advantage in the races you win (and he’s won the most races), and scoring well when you don’t win, is how you win championships.

      • chiliz said on 22nd July 2012, 22:29

        I totally agree with you David on this and I’m not sure how Alonso’s performance can be tagged as luck when he’s done what he needs to and his rivals haven’t.

  9. William Brierty said on 22nd July 2012, 17:16

    No driver other than Alonso would have won that race under that sheer quantity of pressure, in what to me looked like the third fastest car in the race. Grid position to me, looked as if it had a higher influence on proceedings than I expected, so in essence Alonso won that race in little over 100 seconds on Saturday. I think most of you guys would agree with me if another driver was on pole, either Vettel, Hamilton, Webber or Button (lol), that they’d have won, but utterly due to Ferrari’s pace in the wet and Alonso’s brilliant treatment of the tyres, he deservedly won. I don’t know about a Lion, Vettel’s weekend showed greater resemblence to a Meerkat. I think this GP really demonstrates the fact that he is not yet on the same level as Alonso and maybe Hamilton, because he clearly had the fastest car, but instead of winning he finishes a questionable 2nd, and cocked up his final quali lap, ran wide 5 times during the race and, in my opinion, illegally obtained 2nd place from Button. And remember this is the man who went the first six races of last season only making one mistake, and that was in FP1. Button’s, in fact McLaren’s performance in general made a massive leap, comparable to the gain in performance experienced by Ferrari between the Bahraini and Spanish GPs, which is made the more obvious by the fact that Button had the win within reach, and perhaps in Hamilton’s hands the win would have been McLaren’s – but credit given where credit’s due it was a great drive from Jenson. And on a final note can Ferrari really ignore the utter brilliance of Perez’s drive? Can they not help themselves from contrasting Perez’s brilliant drive, to Massa’s? I’m sure Domenicalli has dreams about the position Ferrari would be in the WCC if Perez was with them.

    • William Brierty said on 22nd July 2012, 17:22

      Haha! Vettel has rightly got a penalty. OK, maybe 20 seconds was a bit harsh, but ontop of the move on Button, Vettel was getting overly well acquinted with the extremes of the racetrack.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 23rd July 2012, 0:20

      Your assessment of the cars is fanciful at best, the tyres make it hard to judge but the RedBull has shown serious deficiencies of late and never looked the best at any time this weekend.

    • Abel Archundia (@aquataz68) said on 23rd July 2012, 9:37

      right on – Vettel’s wobbly drive, biting the sides several times, appeared mental. He failed to deliver on great expectations while Alonso flawless weekend drive got him 1st.

      Perez’s drive Sunday was wonderful, yes! +11 places, aggressive driving yet nursing tyres,etc…. brought the points home. He still has a couple of “if’s” to clear though : race to race consistency and Quali performance. Having said that, only in his second season, he is showing he can learn. Not sure he would be a good fit with Ferrari unless they committ to develop-in-seat, and they never have.

      • William Brierty said on 23rd July 2012, 13:52

        @HoHum Yes, the tyres make things difficult to evaluate, but I think few people would deny the fact that the Red Bull is definitely the fastest car at the moment, and not the Ferrari. I think the way you attribute Red Bull’s poor German to the RB8’s “deficiencies” is rather fanciful. The fact of the matter is that Red Bull ran a lower downforce setup, hoping that this would defend Red Bull on the long parabolica straight. Apparently they assumed that the car’s natural downforce would still allow them to carry reasonable apex speed through the track’s few fast corners, but this was not the case, as the numerous offs by Vettel and Webber proves. Also their low downforce setup hurt them in the wet qualifying, but Vettel was still under the impression afterwards that pole was achievable. And despite the low downforce, and the sliding that results, Vettel’s tyres were in much better condition than those of Alonso and Button after the race. You seem to be mistaking a simple wrong direction on setup for more fundemental issues.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 24th July 2012, 1:31

          I think you described one of Red Bulls deficiencies rather well.

          • William Brierty said on 26th July 2012, 21:46

            Were you awake last year? Red Bull dominated, but they were seldom ever in the top 16 in the speed traps, but their “draggy” car gave them downforce figures in a different league to their rivals. I would hardly that a “deficiency”.

  10. Slr (@slr) said on 22nd July 2012, 17:37

    Alonso was magnificent once again, he showed us all why he is the class of the field. Since 2005 he has possibly been the best driver every season except 2007.

    • how can be a driver do his best when your boss said: We are racing AGAINST Alonso….

      • William Brierty said on 22nd July 2012, 19:00

        The team’s favour of Hamilton in 2007 did make Alonso uncomfortable, but the main reason for his dip in form was almost certainly the sheer shock and horror that he, a man that had dominated the past two seasons and in the eyes of many the reason behind Schumacher’s retirement, was being beaten by a rookie on raw pace. Alonso’s respect for Hamilton’s sheer speed grew in the next few seasons, but I’m sure he soon became safe in the knowledge that he is a better all rounder. Alonso’s favourie game is to mentally break his teamates, the careers of Fisichella, Piquet, Massa and to some extent Trulli, were ruined by Alonso’s magnificence, but Hamilton’s inner-team support meant that he thrived, and did not merely take an awe-struck step back. I’m not sure about Alonso being “the class of the field” in 2009 – in fact I believe that title goes to Hamilton, who dragged the worst McLaren since 1996 to two wins and four poles.

  11. the race have 3 key points….the first : 3-4 laps before the first stop (alonso and ferrari the fastest), the second : 3-4 laps befor the second stop (alonso and ferrari the fastest), the third : 3-4 laps before the end of the race (alonso and ferrari the fastest)….now i have a question for all of u : it was a car and tyre mangement or they where faster then him in the stage when alonso was slower???? think about it….and second if Alonso was not leading or traying to catch somebody the strategi will be totaly diferent and focus in the fact that the last 3-4 laps in the 3 key points, Alonso will be less then 1 second to the other guy and jump it in the pit…this is Fernando Alonso… enjoy

  12. Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 22nd July 2012, 17:59

    One thing is very certain: Alonso will win his 3rd title this season. I had mentioned previously that all Alonso needs is a car capable of fighting for some wins and regular podiums and he will show the rest of the field, his true class! It never became true until this season and here we go! If Ferrari keeps up with this performance, it is Alonso’s era of domination.

    I have never seen so many footages of a car getting passes in a DRS zone. Yes, I am talking about the Force India.

    Lewis was very unfortunate as he would have been in the mix with the top 3. McLaren have made a big step forward but it’s a bit late since they have lost a lot of ground. Another mention is there pitstops. They have improved from bad to best!

    Finally, Seb was very frustrated and he will now realise the quality Fernando since both there cars are more or less equal.

    • very good comment

      • brum55 said on 22nd July 2012, 19:15

        I thought Alonso would win the 2010 WDC after Korea 2010 but the Red-Bull was too good and driver ability alone can only get you so far.

        As an Alonso fan I still fear a Vettel domination for the rest of the year and I’ll definitely not write off Hamilton until he is mathematically out of it.

        • William Brierty said on 22nd July 2012, 20:06

          @brum55 You fear Vettel domination? He is utterly down-todden by his own recent poor form and the fantastic form of Alonso and to some extent Webber. And whilst Hamilton mathematically in with a chance, technically the are out of both championships, so unless Hungary heralds the start of “Hamilton domination”, which has never happened before, forget Hamilton – AND THAT’S A LEWIS FAN SPEAKING! The only man who can stop Alonso is Newey, and even then, the RBR guys will have to battle Alonso, who I believe is the 5th greatest F1 driver EVER, in the form of his life and gunning for a third world title. And you seem to be forgeting that on pure driver meritt, Alonso won the 2010 WDC, only the mistakes of Ferrari, not the pace of Vettel or Red Bull, cost him the title.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 22nd July 2012, 22:37

            And you seem to be forgeting that on pure driver meritt, Alonso won the 2010 WDC, only the mistakes of Ferrari, not the pace of Vettel or Red Bull, cost him the title.

            And you’re forgetting about the reliability of the RB6, that did take away 60 points from Vettel and give Alonso 2 of his wins… Alonso drove a good season, but just saying that you can’t consider Ferraris mistakes and forget about other factors.

          • brum55 said on 22nd July 2012, 22:39

            Vettel’s performances were worse in 2010, Turkey & Belgium spring to mind and also Webber seems more competitive this year than last. McLaren seemed so quick in dry this weekend. If Button was fast I’m sure Hamilton will be at least as fast. Fighting 2 good drivers and 2 exceptional ones in faster cars will be an uphill battle.

        • William Brierty said on 23rd July 2012, 16:31

          @David-A I can’t consider all the factors from an entire year. I was simply stating that had Ferrari had the insight to pit under the saftey car at the UAE GP, Alonso would have been the champion, and that he drove a near perfect season.
          @Brum55 You still think McLaren’s a threat to Alonso? He has more than a 60 pt over Hamilton, and whilst McLaren quite fast in terms of raw pace, the MP4-27, even with Jenson “silky smooth” Button at the wheel, chewed up its tyres at the end of the race. They are perhaps now the 3rd fastest team, which is better than the 5/6th fastest like they were in Britain. Alonso is also bloody good at defending a points lead, so with McLaren out of it, Vettel seemingly returned to his inconsistant spec, the only real challenger to Alonso is Webber. Sorry Mark, but that’s just not a fight. Hang on, who are you referencing as “exceptional”?

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 23rd July 2012, 18:24

            I wouldn’t say he was “near perfect”. He had lacklustre pace in Turkey, and made errors in China, Monaco, Belgium and Britain. None of the title contenders were near perfect in 2010. Fernando even made less mistakes in 2011.

          • William Brierty said on 26th July 2012, 22:06

            Vettel’s 2011 campaign is now the benchmark for a “perfect season” and even he had “lackluster” performances in Germany, Hungary and Japan. And you said it, all of the title contenders made errors in 2010, but Alonso made the fewest in my opinion.

    • William Brierty said on 22nd July 2012, 19:49

      No. Only two things are certain. Alonso will remain the class of the field for the remaining races, and will score 100% of the points that his car and strategy can offer. But, other cars (ahem – Red Bull) may offer more than Alonso’s at the final races. Forget McLaren, only Adrian Newey stands between Alonso and a 3rd title. But leaves the question, are Vettel and Webber good enough, even if they have the fastest car, to beat Alonso? Surely the answer is no. Really, as we saw in 2007, Hamilton is the only man that can beat Alonso when things are equal (ish), but as I said above, McLaren have put themselves COMPLETELY out of both championships. So in reality, you are right, there is 80% chance of Alonso becoming champion this year, but Ferrari would do well to heed my warning about Newey’s brilliance.

      • suka (@suka) said on 22nd July 2012, 22:46

        With the new rules this season,the driving skill is better represented and that is where the likes of Alonso, Hamilton, Schumarcher rise above others.
        Only the software aids and tweaks can make RBR drivers look better.

        • William Brierty said on 23rd July 2012, 16:42

          Can’t agree more. Last year the brilliance of Vettel laid in his blown-diffuser cushion, this year he has returned to his inconsistant self.

  13. Mariano (@mariano) said on 22nd July 2012, 22:14

    I think that Alonso’s main asset right now is his exceptional sate of mind. He looks very mature and solid from a psychological point of view. In my opinion Vettel is a very good driver but in many occasions he has childish reactions that affects negatively his performance.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 23rd July 2012, 20:24

      @mariano I think you’re probably right. His relationship with the team is phenomenal. Ferrari were rarely on it at all last year yet he kept making pep talks in the press conference and such. A really admirable part of his character.

  14. schooner (@schooner) said on 22nd July 2012, 23:12

    Alonso drove a great race, and certainly deserved the win. I think my favorite bit though, was watching Hamilton (in his lapped car) pass Vettel, and then Vettel flapping his hands about and getting all indignant about it. He was like…”how dare you!”

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