German GP 2011: as it happened

12.40pm Good afternoon and welcome to forumula1.com’s coverage of the 2011 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

The Eifel forest has yet again thrown up very interesting conditions for today’s race – it is cold and just, as I type, beginning to rain.

The news this morning is that Sebastien Buemi has been penalised for a small fuel irregularity and starts from the back of the grid. No great loss, you might say, considering that neither of the Toro Rossos looked particularly fast in qualifying yesterday.

Elsewhere, Timo Glock has announced that he has signed a new contract at Virgin til 2014, despite slagging off the team quite nakedly on the radio during yesterday’s session.

And in an interview with the BBC shown this morning, Mark Webber was very unconvincing when he told Jake Humphrey that in theory contract negotiations with Red Bull for next season would be straightforward.

“It’s one of those races where you will need to stay on the track. I’ll be starting on intermediates but no-one really knows,” says Jaime Alguersuari. It is tricky out there and could throw up all kind of incident today.

“For sure it will rain, it is just a question of when,” complains Christian Horner. He does not like rain. We do, though.

12.55pm The grid is now clearing…and it’s properly raining now.

And as they depart on the parade lap it’s eased off a bit, reducing the possibility that anybody will have to pit at the end of the first lap for wet rubber.

At the front it looks like they’ve gone with slicks, but the temperature is very cold and they will yield no grip into the first corner. At all.

1pm And they’re off! Hamilton was aimed across Webber on the grid and he has had a great start and leads into the first corner! And Alonso has managed to nail Vettel for third! Vettel is swarming all over the back of Alonso! It’s Hamilton, Webber, Alonso, Vettel, Rosberg, Massa, Sutil, Petrov, Schumacher and Button, who lost out at the start.

Lap 1 And someone spun down the field…it may have been di Resta. Yes, as they cross the line, di Resta is way down in 24th.

Lap 2 Alonso has overcooked it in the first complex and loses a place to Vettel – he will be cursing.

Schumacher has passed Petrov for seventh.

Lap 3 Hamilton is pulling out a bit of a gap, and Alonso is pressuring Vettel, although DRS is not yet enabled. Webber did have a terrible start, losing out to Hamilton very badly. Massa got away again well but failed to make much of it.

Lap 4 Alonso goes wide again at Turn 2. What is going on with that? He would be very quick if he could keep it on the road. Vettel sets a fastest lap.

“Let’s get past him [Rosberg],” Rob Smedley tells Massa. That is for fourth place.

Lap 5 Kobayashi is up to 11th, believe it or not, after starting 17th. Hamilton’s gap is nearing two seconds over Webber.

Massa pulls a move round the outside into the chicane, but the German repels him successfully.

Lap 6 Alonso is very close to the back of Vettel into Turn One. Not quite close enough to try anything, though.

Lap 7 Rob Smedley wants Massa to use all his KERS down the back straight. Massa cannot get past this time round.

Lap 8 The rain has not shown itself yet…and Alonso zooms past Vettel into Turn One! What a move! Alonso into third.

The order is Hamilton, Webber, Alonso, Vettel, Rosberg, Massa, Sutil, Schumacher, Petrov, Button, Kobayashi, Barrichello, Maldonado, Alguersuari, Perez, Buemi, Heidfeld.

Lap 9 Button is not really threatening Petrov, though he isn’t far behind. Massa STILL is not past Rosberg. Maybe he should be told that Alonso just managed to pass a Red Bull.

Lap 10 And Vettel has been off somewhere! And Rosberg is right on him. Yes, we’re seeing a replay now – Vettel went wide and hit a white line, and spun completely round and off the track! He was really lucky a) not to hit anything and b) not to lose a position, as of yet.

Lap 11 Nick Heidfeld is off the track at the chicane and in the gravel. He came across Buemi unawares, made contact on the right hand side, and that was a sizeable accident.

Lap 12 Massa is finally through past Rosberg into the first corner.

Mark Webber has cut the gap to half a second.

Lap 13 What action! Hamilton went deep into the chicane and Webber came past him on the inside! But then Hamilton re-passed the Australian on the straight over the line! Superb racing.

All that has meant Alonso has zoomed up right behind them! The top three battling it out now and they are oh so close.

Lap 14 Alonso has closed up on Webber! He wants to win this race and he may yet be able to! Hamilton maintains his lead though as they go across the line.

Lap 15 But Webber dived into the pits as they came round, the first to blink…and he emerges behind Massa, who is now hounding Vettel. In fact Webber came out behind Sutil, which may hurt him.

Button tries to get past Petrov but cannot, into the chicane. Good defence from the Russian.

Lap 16 Webber is setting quick sector times on the new tyres and has wangled his way past the Force India. And Massa is through past Vettel!

Lap 17 Chaos! Hamilton and Alonso pitted line astern and emerged JUST behind Massa and Webber, who was nearly tempted to pass the Brazilian.

The loser of all that is Hamilton, who now has to cope with Alonso in his mirrors and a Red Bull in front of him!

Lap 18 And leader Massa pits. Webber assumes the lead that he won when the McLaren of Hamilton pitted, the same Hamilton who now has to defend with his life against a very fast Ferrari.

Vettel has pitted and is out, but crucially behind Massa, who has also been in.

Lap 19 Hamilton looks to be a little more comfortable in front of Alonso…he has stretched out a seven-tenths lead or so. He will be annoyed to be second, though, when he used to be first.

Lap 20 Vettel is ragged today. He is wide and onto the artificial surface as he crosses the line.

Lap 21 The order is Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, Sutil, Button, Petrov, Massa, Vettel, Rosberg, Schumacher. Despite his untidiness Vettel is closer now to Massa.

Lap 22 And now Massa and Vettel are both past Petrov, who is yet to pit. Rosberg now challenges the Russian, who must be dismayed to be losing so many places. Schumacher sits menacingly on Rosberg’s rear wing.

The threat of rain seems to have receded completely. Bizarre German weather.

Lap 23 And both the Mercs are past Petrov now into the chicane, during which Schumacher has a distinct look at Rosberg, who is forced to defend strongly.

Lap 24 Schumacher has spun! We are yet to see what happened…did it have anything to do with Rosberg? No it didn’t…it was a carbon copy of what Vettel did earlier on! What is it with Germans and getting it wrong there today? It hasn’t been a good day so far for the home heroes all in, with Heidfeld out of the race.

Lap 25 Button finally pits. He emerges into eighth, ahead of Schumacher in ninth and Kobayashi in tenth.

Lap 26 It is all very stable now. Not a lot going on. Alonso sets a quick lap.

Lap 27 Hamilton is around a second behind Webber.

Lap 28 We have lost Rubens Barrichello to an engine problem. Absolutely nothing else to report. Time for a yawn, methinks. Although this is 2011, so something will definitely happen soon.

“Whoever gets the strategy right will win this grand prix,” suggests David Coulthard. His BBC commentator colleague Martin Brundles acquiesces. “There’s nothing between them [the top three], is there?” he remarks.

Lap 29 Nothing. La la la. I am amusing myself by seeing if I can sing the engine note of Jenson Button’s McLaren. I can’t.

Lap 30 Webber pits! Early doors. Action stations. He has got to make sure he maintains his lead.

And Karun Chandhok has spun, although he recovers.

Lap 31 Hamilton pits. Crucial.

Lap 32 He comes out…WAY AHEAD of Webber, but misjudges the first corner and Webber tries to capitalise…but Hamilton will not yield. Now it’s Alonso’s turn to pit.

Lap 33 Alonso pits and comes out ahead of the two of them! But Hamilton won’t have that and he TAKES ALONSO ROUND THE OUTSIDE OF TURN TWO!!! What a move! Genius!

Webber, who led just now, is now third.

Lap 34 “As you know, it is tremendously embarrassing to be overtaken around the outside,” remarks David Coulthard to Martin Brundle. Ha.

Meanwhile, Webber cuts the chicane as he gets it wrong. No big drama. Button is going to have Rosberg here for sixth…

Lap 35 And Button does, as Rosberg locks up into Turn One.

The effect of these new Pirelli tyres this weekend seems to be that they don’t warm up very quickly. They were intended to last longer, and the lack of warming up is a side effect that will have Lewis Hamilton smiling.

Lap 36 And Button retires with a hydraulics problem. Gutting for the Englishman, to whom the race was just about coming.

Lap 37 The order is Hamilton, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Vettel, Sutil, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Rosberg. Hamilton is setting quick laps out front and has a lead of around three seconds over Alonso.

Lap 38 Schumacher pits.

Lap 39 Rosberg wants Kobayashi’s blood. And Kobayashi shoves him wide down at Turn One! Hopeless, futile defence perhaps, but very entertaining.

Lap 40 Rosberg must be frustrated now. Gotcha! He has the Japanese as they bomb down to the first corner this time round. Tonio Liuzzi has retired.

Lap 41 Vettel pits, goes onto the soft tyres. Schumacher takes 11th from Alguersuari.

Lap 42 Massa pits and emerges JUST ahead of Vettel, and battle is joined. Very close to the Ferrari is the German now. Vettel locks up into the chicane and is forced to cut the chicane.

Lap 43 “We need to take this tyre as long as possible,” say McLaren in the direction of Lewis Hamilton. The other compound is not as quick on the McLaren.

Lap 44 Ferrari tell Alonso what McLaren just said. Massa gets it wrong at the chicane, but Vettel cannot capitalise.

Lap 45 The talk is that the front runners might all leave it til the last lap to pit again. That would cause drama.

Lap 46 The order is Hamilton, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Vettel, Sutil, Rosberg, Kobayashi, Petrov, Schumacher, di Resta, Perez, Alguersuari, Maldonado, Buemi, Kovalainen.

Lap 47 Schumacher gets past Petrov. They know each other very well now, these two.

Lap 48 Hamilton is just losing shades of time to Alonso as the tyres begin to wear. Vettel sets the fastest lap. He is still behind Massa, though, and does not really look like getting through.

Lap 49 Those two are now the fastest on the whole track, Massa responding to the Red Bull threat.

Lap 50 Ten laps to go and it is cagey at the moment. No one is blinking. Alonso is 2.3 seconds behind his great rival as they rush towards the end. Webber is also throwing quick laps into the mix.

Lap 51 Vettel locks up as he chases Massa down into the first corner. And Hamilton the race leader pits! Seconds before he had told the team that the tyres were falling off.

Lap 52 How quick can Hamilton go on these new tyres? It is crucial for him to stay ahead of his rivals if he wants to win this race. And Ferrari are reacting, they are out ready for Alonso. But Alonso has stayed out! Bizarre. He is still quicker than Hamilton on these old tyres, as is Webber. “He lost time!” Ferrari shout to Alonso. They may win this through nous!

Lap 53 But Hamilton is quicker this lap…and Alonso pits this lap in response. Where will he come out! Webber carries on.

Lap 54 Hamilton is ahead of Alonso! The Spaniard comes out only to have a McLaren rear wing to look at. What can Webber do? Will he pit this lap? Surely he has to, his sector times are slower…Meanwhile, Vettel is STILL trying to get past Massa.

Hamilton is half a second quicker as Webber goes round again and stays out! Surely he is throwing away his chances of winning this race!

Lap 55 Hamilton is flying on these new tyres, even if they are a bit slower than the others were. The gap between him and Webber is falling and Webber needs to pit.

Lap 56 And Webber dives in. Hamilton assumes the lead. Webber out into third.

Lap 57 “You are P1. You are three seconds clear of Alonso and you are the fastest man on the track.” Sweet words to Lewis Hamilton’s ears from his team.

Lap 58 Both Massa and Vettel still have to pit with only two laps to go. Competition in the pits! Vettel was just told to do the opposite of Massa but he followed him round!

Lap 59 Confusion over what will happen over fourth place then.

Lap 60 The two go in! And Vettel sweeps past him in the pitlane, Ferrari too slow! The German nicks fourth.

LEWIS HAMILTON WINS THE GERMAN GRAND PRIX

Great race from the Englishman – a fantastic drive. Fernando Alonso is second with Mark Webber third. Fourth will be Sebastian Vettel in that last lap drama where he nicked it from Felipe Massa who gets fifth. Sutil also drove very well and finishes sixth.

And Fernando Alonso has stopped on the warming down lap, to be picked up by Mark Webber. “We finish the fuel, stop the car!” said Ferrari over the radio.

An entertaining afternoon capped by a wonderful win for Hamilton.

That’s all from me, thanks for following.