Alonso takes contentious German Grand Prix Victory

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