Fernando Alonso celebrates winning the Grand Prix of Germany. [Photo courtesy of Press Association]
Alonso Takes 3rd Consecutive Win In Germany
by Mark Gero
HOCKENHEIM, Germany- With his second pole position in a row the previous day, Fernando Alonso only had to lose his lead once because of a pit stop, but took the lead once again and dominated the Grand Prix of Germany at the Hockenheimring on Sunday afternoon to win his third consecutive race and increase his lead in the Formula One World Championship. Sebastian Vettel took second when he passed Jenson Button with only two laps to go.
"It was a very close race from start to finish." Said Alonso. "We did not have the quickest car. McLaren and Red Bull had a little bit extra but not enough to get past. The team took a few strategic decisions that were spot on, at the time of both stops and I knew that I had to concentrate, especially at Turn 6, defending my position by using the KERS. Then, in the third sector, there was no room for overtaking. I tried as much as possible to manage the tyres at all times. Clearly, I didn't have a moment to relax but I think I was calmer than the team in the garage and on the pit wall and our fans sitting in front of their televisions! If I think back to where we were in Jerez, or Australia at the first race, I have to thank everyone at Maranello for the fantastic way in which they reacted to the situation. After yesterday's pole, in the wet, the car seemed to be very strong, as we expected. We must keep focused, avoid problems with reliability or with the pit stops and I know that when it comes to that, I can count on the best team, a team that is used to winning a lot. All I have to do is think about driving and helping the team. I always want to give 100% and work day and night towards this goal. I don't want anyone to come to Hungary better prepared than me, physically or mentally or more motivated than me and I always try and win this competition that runs alongside the one on the track."
The race itself after two days of rain was perfect with clouds overhead, but no threat of any precipitation. Alonso got off to a great start, but in the middle of the grid, Felipe Massa ran into the back of Daniel Riccardo's Toro Rosso, knocking the Brazilian's front wing off and scattering debris everywhere. Romain Grosjean was also part of the problem, and the Frenchman had to pit to replace his front wing as well.
But the biggest victim of all this was Lewis Hamilton, who ran his McLaren's left rear tire over the debris and punctured, leaving him to come in for new rubber and come out into the race in 22 nd .
For the first 19 laps, Alonso and Vettel shot out ahead of the rest of the field and held a seven second lead over Button, who was now in third. Alonso pitted and came out in second, only to have Vettel do the same and rgain the lead for the rest of the race.
Ten laps later, Vettel managed to close in on the leader but began to experience a loss in his KERS system, which he could not do any more to defeat Alonso. But by lap 34, both of the top leaders came up to lap Hamilton, who was miffed and fought tooth and nail to unlap himself from the leaders. The Briton could not fight Alonso, but he managed to pass Vettel, thus giving the chance for Button to get close to the German. A few laps later, Button pitted and made a fast stop less than three seconds, to come out again and keep his position. On lap 42, Alonso and Vettel both came in for their final stops, with the Ferrari driver coming out in first. But by this time, Button had gained his position, and with the KERS still not working properly, Button passed Vettel for second and now by lap 48, had his sights straight on the leader.
But after all the frustration of the opening lap, Hamilton finally retired by lap 50 and became the only driver to stop for the day. Alonso increased his lead as Vettel final found his KERS back up to par to pass Button for second but could not get any closer to Alonso as the Spaniard continued his winning ways with his third victory in a row.
Kimi Raikkonen drove a smooth race to take fourth, while Kamui Kobyaschi was fifth in his Sauber. His Mexican teammate Sergio Perez was sixth, while Michael Schumacher finished seventh. Mark Webber was eighth, while Germans Nico Hulkenberg and Rosberg rounded out the top ten.
Despite now holding a 34 point lead in the championship over Webber, Alonso is confident that he can keep his streak going into next week's race in Hungary.
"I expect to go well in Budapest and there is no reason to be pessimistic." Alonso confidently expressed. "However, I am not forgetting that Red Bull and McLaren were quicker. I said that the month of July would be crucial, with 75 points up for grabs in four weeks and so far we have brought home 43, so we will try and finish the job in Hungary."
Saturday Qualifying Report
Alonso takes 2nd consecutive pole in Germany
HOCKENHEIM, Germany- Even the second and third qualifying sessions with heavy water on the track did not stop Fernando Alonso from taking the fastest time in qualifying Saturday afternoon as the Spaniard recorded a 1: 40: 621 to take pole for Sunday's Grand Prix of Germany at the Hockenheimring. Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber finished second and third, respectively.
"I still think the conditions are very inconvenient," commented Alonso about the rain. "As far as it is for everybody, I think it is good to check the certain conditions and going into turn six, it was not good for anybody. We go at about 290 kilometers per hour, so everything went well for us and even with those aquaplaning moments, and with the tire change at the last minute that improved our time."
The rain itself did not come down in the opening session, but was very much in evidence far away in the distance. With dark clouds expected to come with the next half hour, most of the drivers were able to run with slick tires. But Finn Kimi Raikkonen managed to get a good set of soft tires on his Lotus and took the fastest time of the opening session, with a 1:15:683, while Michael Schumacher just barely made it into the last spot to advance. Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne failed to advance in his Toro Rosso for the second consecutive race.
AS the second session began, so did the arrival of the rain, which began with a heavy clasp of thunder, followed by a heavy downpour. But some drivers were risky enough to go out on intermediates before realizing that the rain was too much for the thinner tire. Many drivers came in for full wets, but even as the rain began to stop, Vettel set the fastest time, but Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg failed to advance to the final session.
The wet track did not change anything for the last session, as the track itself remained impossible to change tire compounds. But as in every track conditions, when the cars continue to cross the track, eventually the track will dry out, and with only a few minutes to go in the session, this made some of the drivers improve their times, with Webber, Vettel and finally Alonso managing to improve their times. But it was the Spaniard in his Ferrari that did better than the others, taking his second consecutive pole and his 22 nd of his career.
Schumacher led the rest of the field, improving his chances for a win with a fourth place finish, while fellow German Nico Hulkenberg was fifth. Pastor Maldonado got a last minute flying lap to take sixth, while the two Mclarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were seventh and eighth, respectively. Paul di Resta and Raikkonen rounded out the top ten.
"It has been a strange weekend". Concluded Alonso. "The problems on the track have been strange and if we have to do it tomorrow, we can do the same thing. The weather should be good for tomorrow, so we can see how it will perform.".
Friday Practice Report
Button, Maldanado set fastest practice times in Germany
HOCKENHEIM, Germany- Following the past couple of races when things just have not gone right, Jenson Button and Pastor Maldonado led the fastest times in Friday practices respectively on a wet track for Sunday's Grand Prix of Germany at the Hockenheimring.
The opening session produced more of a drier track then later in the afternoon. Button took full advantage of this, and stormed to the top of the timesheets with a best 1:16:595 in his upgraded MP4-27 McLaren machine. The weather could not get better as the session continued, but with only 15 minutes left on the track, many drivers got closer to Button's time, as the track suddenly dried out. Button's teammate, Lewis Hamilton, was in second, with series leader Fernando Alonso finishing in third.
However, as the second session got underway, so did the rain as the track began to slow down all the cars eager to get out and improve on their set ups. The conditions were on and off again and there was only a five minute gap for the drivers to enable their DRS systems that could only get the best results because the track began to dry. With the rain returning towards the end of the session, Maldonado could only set a time of 1:27:476, much slower than Button, who experienced better conditions earlier in the day.
The rain began to fall even heavier towards the end of the session, and many of the drivers felt it was a waste of time to continue, being satisfied with their results.
But not everyone was not happy with staying in the garage and waiting out the storm. Jean- Eric Vergne took his Toro Rosso out and considering he did a poor lap of 1:39:843, it got the ball rolling for other drivers. But just as everyone was going to go out onto the track with slicks, the rain returned again and stopped everyone's progress. Michael Schumacher received the worst of it, spinning his Mercedes into the tire wall.
After Maldonado, Germans Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel were second and third respectively in the session, but Rosberg's good fortune suddenly went bad when the Mercedes driver was hit with a five grid penalty after repairing his gearbox. Another five grid setback went to Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, who had his gearbox changed at the last race and will have to suffer the same circumstances on this track.