Fernando Alonso resisted race-long pressure to claim a third win of the 2012 F1 season, triumphing at Hockenheim to extend his championship lead over Mark Webber.
The Spaniard made a strong start from pole to give himself a cushion while the field sorted itself out over the opening couple of laps, but soon had Sebastian Vettel
closing on the Ferrari
as the German searched for a maiden home win. Both opting for a two-stop strategy, Alonso only ceded the advantage when stopping a few laps ahead of his rival, but was back in front on lap 20.
He continued to lead through the second round of stops, but had to react to the new threat of Jenson Button
who, having fought up from sixth place early on, became a contender for top spot as he lapped faster than the two leaders in the reworked McLaren. With Alonso and Vettel having to contend with a feisty Lewis Hamilton
- who was attempting to unlap himself after falling behind to an lap three puncture - McLaren
pitted Button in search of the undercut, and gained a spot when Vettel exited behind the Briton.
Button went on the pressure Alonso in the closing stages, but did not have enough to catch the Ferrari, and eventually fell prey to Vettel, who appeared to have conserved his tyres marginally better than the Briton, but also seemed to complete the pass outside the limits of the track. By then, Alonso was clear once more, eventually crossing the line 3.7secs to the good.
Behind Button, Kimi Raikkonen
claimed fourth, a potential victory bid scuppered by the choice to run two sets of soft tyres early on just as temperatures dipped, while Kamui Kobayashi
was a fine fifth after making a long first stint on the medium tyre work in his favour. The other Sauber of Sergio Perez turned a penalised 17th into sixth at the flag, while Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber, Nico Hulkenberg
and Nico Rosberg
completed the scorers. Hamilton eventually called it a day after 56 laps, having fallen a lap behind again when a bid to go through the bulk of the race on one stop proved fruitless.
Full report and result to follow....