Alonso the victor after Massa moves over; Vettel third on home soil; McLaren duo fourth and fifth
Fernando Alonso recorded his second victory of the season, as controversy reigned over the Ferrari team at the German Grand Prix.
Felipe Massa, who led for the majority of the race after a superb start, was asked to move over to allow his team-mate through and into the lead – in a move similar to some of the Italian team’s past history.
Sebastian Vettel was third, after failing to translate pole position into a victory on his home race, with the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button jumping Mark Webber to finish fourth and fifth respectively.
Massa slingshots past the leaders
Lining up in front of his home crowd, Sebastian Vettel failed to make the perfect getaway from pole position to lead into the first corner.
Making a reasonable getaway the Red Bull driver attempted to squeeze Fernando Alonso off the front row, in an attempt to prevent the Ferrari driver from gaining the lead. However, the Spaniard would not be intimidated by the hurtling RB6 and held his line – forcing both drivers to compromise their run into turn one.
This allowed the sister car of Felipe Massa, to make a clean get away from his third place grid slot and pass the squabbling duo around the outside – dramatically snatching the lead.
Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton used his McLaren’s superior straight line speed pull alongside Mark Webber at the Parabolika and then muscle him aside into the hairpin.
There was also drama further down the field as Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi and Jamie Alguersuari tangled together. Outbraking himself in the hairpin, the latter was powerless to avoid his stablemate and ploughed straight into the back of Buemi’s STR5.
Both Force India drivers also sustained damage as a result of the incident, as they ran over the flying debris.
Softer tyres fail to spice up the action, as teams make early stops
With the majority of the field starting on the softer rubber, it was not long before the frontrunners took to the pits for their mandatory stop.
First to pit was Vettel, on lap 13, as Red Bull attempted to outmanoeuvre the leading Ferrari drivers and allow its driver to emerge in clear air.
However the Scuderia would not be outfoxed and soon covered the German’s strategy by bring Alonso and then Massa in for their stop in successive laps.
Red Bull also attempted to employ this strategy for Mark Webber, only for it to fail to materialise when the Australian exited in to the middle of a gaggle of cars including Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes and Renault’s Robert Kubica.
Consequently, Webber’s misfortune presented a golden opportunity for McLaren – with Lewis Hamilton maintaining his position and returning to the track ahead of the faltering Australian.
Meanwhile, Jenson Button made full use of his smooth driving style to conserve the lifespan of his tyres and to stay out until lap 22. This move proved beneficial as the reigning world champion also passed Webber, emerging right behind his team-mate in fifth.
Shades of the Scuderia’s past as Massa moves over for Alonso
It was Alonso who appeared to have the moment, in the laps following the pit stop sequence as slowly began to stalk the back of his team-mate’s F10.
The 28-year-old’s chance would fall when both Ferrari drivers encountered traffic, in the form of Bruno Senna and Timo Glock.
Benefitting from Massa’s over-cautious approach, Alonso pulled alongside into the hairpin, but could not make the pass stick as the Brazilian driver held his own – forcing the 28-year-old to yield into turn 5.
From there on Massa appeared to take control of the race, at one point pulling out a lead of over 3 seconds. However Alonso would not be denied and quickly responded to his team-mate’s pace with a succession of fast laps, bringing the gap down to less than a second.
Then on lap 47, with the championship surely etched on their minds, Ferrari’s pit wall made the decision to swap its drivers over, with Massa’s engineer, Rob Smedley transmitting the message over the radio.
A lap later and the controversial move was made, with Massa ungracefully slowing down on the exit of the pit lane and allowing his team-mate through.
Vettel’s late charge comes to nothing
Another factor behind Ferrari’s decision may well have been the pace of Sebastian Vettel, with the Red Bull driver soon trimming the lead of the scarlet cars as he tried to make up for his faltering start.
With Alonso now long gone at the front, Vettel soon homed in on Massa in the dying laps, but was unable to prevent Ferrari recording its first 1-2 finish since Bahrain.
Nearly half a minute down the road, the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finished in tandem, as Mark Webber was forced to call off his pursuit with fading oil pressure.
Robert Kubica converted his grid slot into a strong seventh position, with Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher finishing eighth and ninth for Mercedes.
Vitaly Petrov took the final points position in the second R30, holding off both Williams drivers who failed to make an impact after a poor start.
Pedro de la Rosa may well have brought home points for Sauber, after a cunning strategy saw him run until lap 51 on the same set of tyres. However, the Spaniard’s race was spoiled when he made contact with the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen and damaged his front wing – forcing him to settle for fourteenth.
So after a faltering campaign, Ferrari and Fernando Alonso have revitalised their world championship ambitions with victory – albeit in less-than-perfect circumstances.
Whether Ferrari will face any ramifications from its decision remains to be seen, but nevertheless it has added yet another story line to this fascinating season.
2010 FIA Formula One World Championship Round 11: Germany Circuit: Hockenheim Laps: 67 Weather: Sunny. Classified Finishers: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Alonso Ferrari 1h28:38.866 2. Massa Ferrari + 4.196 3. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 5.121 4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 26.896 5. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 29.482 6. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 43.606 7. Kubica Renault + 1 lap 8. Rosberg Mercedes + 1 lap 9. Schumacher Mercedes + 1 lap 10. Petrov Renault + 1 lap 11. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap 12. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap 13. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap 14. De la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap 15. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap 16. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes + 2 laps 17. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 2 laps 18. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 3 laps 19. Senna HRT-Cosworth + 4 laps Ret. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth On Lap 58 Ret. Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth On lap 51 Ret. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth On Lap 20 Ret. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth On Lap 4 Ret. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari On Lap 2 Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:15.824 World Championship standings after 11 of 19 rounds: Drivers: 1. Hamilton 157 2. Button 143 3. Vettel 136 4. Webber 136 5. Alonso 123 6. Rosberg 94 7. Kubica 89 8. Massa 85 9. Schumacher 38 10. Sutil 35 11. Barrichello 29 12. Kobayashi 15 13. Liuzzi 12 14. Petrov 7 15. Buemi 7 16. Alguersuari 3 17. Hulkenberg 2 Constructors: 1. McLaren-Mercedes 300 2. Red Bull-Renault 272 3. Ferrari 208 4. Mercedes 132 5. Renault 96 6. Force India-Mercedes 47 7. Williams-Cosworth 31 8. Sauber-Ferrari 15 9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 10