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Germany analysis - Alonso hits his stride 23 Jul 2012
No one is any longer kidding themselves that Ferrari don’t have a good car, but it’s still far from being the best car. What Ferrari do have is a double world champion seemingly at the very peak of his driving powers. Fernando Alonso displayed that to full effect at Hockenheim on Sunday as he kept the hard-charging Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button at bay to clinch his third win of 2012 and go 34 points clear at the top of the standings. We look back, team by team, on a fascinating German Grand Prix…
Fernando Alonso, P1
Felipe Massa, P12
Alonso did a brilliant job to keep Vettel at bay, then Button, never once putting a wheel wrong under intense pressure throughout. Right now he looks like a champion all the way and threatens to repeat the dose in Budapest next weekend. Massa had a terrible day, crashing into the back of Ricciardo at the start and having to battle back to 12th after stopping for a new nose at the end of the first lap.
Jenson Button, P2
Lewis Hamilton, Retired lap 57, debris damage
McLaren were back on form and had great race pace. Unfortunately, Hamilton’s 100th Grand Prix was ruined by a debris-induced puncture on the third lap, and later he was the only retirement due to associated damage. Button, however, fought up to third and carried the fight past Vettel and up to Alonso until his tyres faded towards the end. He was repassed Vettel, but got the place back later when the stewards penalised the German for the way in which he overtook. A win was possible, but at least the team were back on form. They also clocked the fastest F1 pit stop in history, at a stunning 2.31 seconds.
Kimi Raikkonen, P3
Romain Grosjean, P18
Raikkonen lacked sheer pace and had a mountain to climb after a tough opening lap. He was very quick at one stage but couldn’t sustain it. He was a decent fourth, but was promoted to the podium after Vettel’s penalty. Grosjean had a terrible race, going off on the opening lap, sustaining front wing damage, and later having more incidents on his way to a lowly 18th.
Kamui Kobayashi, P4
Sergio Perez, P6
Sauber started Kobayashi on mediums, gave him another set at his first stop, then finished him on softs. Perez did it the other way round, starting on the softs. They had battles all the way through and took eventual fourth and sixth places to score some much-needed points as the C31s again proved very competitive.
Sebastian Vettel, P5
Mark Webber, P8
Vettel just couldn’t quite pass Alonso early on, then got held up a little at a crucial point as the delayed Hamilton unlapped himself. That helped to drop him behind Button after the second pit stops, but persistence paid off as he took advantage of the McLaren’s tyre wear to snatch second place back with a lap to go. Unfortunately he did so by exceeding track limits, in the view of the stewards, who imposed a 20s post-race penalty that dropped him from second to fifth. Webber had a horrible race in which he never looked hooked up and could do no better than eighth.
Michael Schumacher, P7
Nico Rosberg, P10
Schumacher looked very strong at the start as he battled Vettel for second place, but the Mercedes was ultimately good enough only for seventh place as faster runners hit their stride. Rosberg and the team did a fine job to climb from 21st to a point-scoring 10th place finish, but overall it was a disappointing weekend for the team on their home ground.
Nico Hulkenberg, P9
Paul di Resta, P11
Hulkenberg and Di Resta were deep in the fight early on with the Saubers, but the former’s three-stop strategy lost him ground to the Swiss cars, and Di Resta’s tyres were finished when he was challenged for the final point by Rosberg late in the race.
Daniel Ricciardo, P13
Jean-Eric Vergne, P14
Ricciardo was hit at the start by Massa but kept going and looked good until understeer hampered further progress. Vergne’s race was ruined early by a puncture, probably from the debris that was left on the track after the Massa/Ricciardo clash at the start.
Pastor Maldonado, P15
Bruno Senna, P17
Williams had a desperately disappointing day. Senna’s race was ruined when he got involved in another car-damaging first-lap fracas, but Maldonado was running a strong sixth until he ran over debris on the 12th lap which seriously damaged the underside of his FW34 and impaired its downforce.
Vitaly Petrov, P16
Heikki Kovalainen, P19
Petrov and Kovalainen raced each other so hard they almost touched at the hairpin at one stage, but the Russian pulled away when later in the race the Finn struggled to generate front tyre temperature.
Charles Pic, P20
Timo Glock, P22
Another tough race saw Pic comfortably outpace Glock as the latter still lacked confidence in his MR-01’s stability.
Pedro de la Rosa, P21
Narain Karthikeyan, P23
No real problems here apart from general lack of pace, but De la Rosa was stoked to hunt down and pass the troubled Glock before the finish.