Fernando Alonso of Ferrari won yesterday’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim to clinch his third victory this season and extend his lead in the Formula One drivers’ standings.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel finished second on the track, 3.73 seconds behind, before being demoted to fifth after a 20-second penalty for an unlawful overtaking maneuver on Jenson Button. McLaren’s Button was promoted to second.
It was the 30th career win for Spain’s Alonso, a two-time world champion who dominated the race from pole position. It’s the third time he’s won the German Grand Prix.
“Starting on pole was the key factor,” Alonso, 30, told the post-race ceremony after his second straight race starting at the front of the grid. “It was difficult to overtake and we were not the fastest but we kept the position.”
Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus finished fourth ahead of Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, and they were promoted one position after Vettel’s penalty. Sergio Perez of Sauber was sixth, followed by Michael Schumacher of Mercedes, Mark Webber of Red Bull, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Nico Rosberg of Mercedes.
Alonso, now having won two of the past three races, leads the standings on 154 points, followed by Webber (120), Vettel (110), Raikkonen (98), McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton (92), Rosberg (76) and Button (68).
Button, benefiting from an upgraded McLaren car, started the race in sixth position before charging up the field. He said over team radio that Germany’s Vettel had gone off the track to get past him on the penultimate lap.
“I had a great race out there, it’s nice to be fighting at the front again,” Button said after the 67-lap race.
Vettel, two-time defending world champion, has never won his home grand prix. He said it had been a difficult situation involving Button.
“I tried to give him enough room but it’s difficult to see and I went wide. We were all struggling with our tires, Jenson in particular, so I think that’s why I was able to get past him,” he said. Stewards decided he had gone off the track while carrying out the maneuver and therefore imposed the penalty.
Red Bull was also surrounded by controversy before the race when stewards investigated a possible breach of technical regulations relating to the cars’ engine throttles.
No action was taken against the team after stewards met with representatives of Red Bull and engine supplier Renault and decided rules weren’t broken. Even so, race officials said they didn’t accept all the team’s arguments.
Alonso started the race well while drivers behind him tried to avoid debris on the track after a crash involving Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean of Lotus and Williams’s Bruno Senna.
Button’s teammate Hamilton, starting seventh in his 100th Grand Prix, dropped to the back of the field after puncturing and said over team radio that he needed to retire. He continued in the race after pitting but said the car didn’t feel stable, finally retiring 10 laps from the end.
“I saw the debris come up and it damaged” the car, Hamilton said. “The car felt terrible after that, the rear floor is damaged. The only positive I can take from this weekend is Jenson’s result.”
Alonso changed on to harder tires after 18 laps and resumed in third place behind Vettel and Button. Those two then pitted, and Alonso regained the lead. The trio were followed by Raikkonen and Schumacher in fourth and fifth, a pattern that remained for several laps.
A pit stop by Button prompted Alonso and Vettel to do the same, and the McLaren driver managed to get ahead of the German to take second spot behind Alonso. That remained the leading sequence beyond lap 50, with Alonso a second ahead.
Button reduced the gap and kept up the pressure on Alonso, who then responded by regaining his time advantage and extending it to 2 seconds with three laps left.
Alonso kept his grip on the race, while on the second-to-last lap Vettel ran wide to overtake Button, a move that resulted in his time penalty.
Vettel criticized Hamilton for trying to unlap himself by overtaking him toward the end of the race.
“That was not nice of him, I don’t see why he tried to race us,” Vettel said. “If he wants to drive fast then he can drop back, find a gap and go fast then, but it was a bit stupid to disturb the leaders. He was a lap down, so I don’t see his point.”
McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh defended his driver.
“He was quicker, he overtook and he pulled away, so I’m not sure what stupidity there is in that,” he said.
Red Bull leads the constructors’ competition on 230 points, followed by Ferrari (177), McLaren (160), Lotus (159) and Mercedes (105).
The next event, the 11th in the 20-race season, is the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest on July 29.