Crash.Net F1 News
Hamilton wins three-way battle at the 'Ring
24 July 2011
After the disappointment of Silverstone, McLaren bounced back in perfect fashion at the Nurburgring after Lewis Hamilton saw off the challenge of Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber to secure victory in the German Grand Prix.
Having surprised many with second on the grid in qualifying, Hamilton came out on top of a see-saw battle with his Ferrari and Red Bull rivals to pick up his second victory of the season as the trio made the most of an uncharacteristic off day for points leader Sebastian Vettel – who failed to finish on the podium for the first time this season.
Hamilton led the race from the start when a better getaway saw him jump past Webber on the run into turn one, with the Red Bull appearing to bog down somewhat when the lights went out. Webber was able to hold second place while Alonso moved into third having challenged Vettel for position.
As Hamilton looked to break away from Webber behind, Alonso lost third to Vettel on the second lap when he ran wide exiting turn two and got sideways on the astroturf on the side of the circuit, which was holding water after rain earlier in the day.
Out front, Hamilton was unable to break away from Webber and behind, the battle for third continued until Alonso got ahead heading into turn one on the eighth lap. Just a lap later, Vettel's hopes of a home win all bit ended when the defending champion got caught out at turn ten after putting a wheel over the white line on the edge of the circuit and suffered a spin that cost him valuable time.
From that point onwards, the battle for victory would be one decided on strategy, with Red Bull the first team to call its driver in for the opening stop. Webber dived in from second place on the 14th lap and then managed to find enough pace to ensure that when Hamilton and Alonso pitted two laps later, it was the Australian who held the lead.
The trio ran together then until Webber pitted for his second stop on lap 30, which again was ahead of both Hamilton and Alonso. Hamilton rejoined just ahead of Webber and then forced the Red Bull driver wide through turn two to maintain his advantage.
Alonso dived in on the following lap and, somewhat astonishingly, rejoined ahead of both Hamilton and Webber in the lead. However, Hamilton was quick to make the most of the extra heat in his tyres as he drove round the outside of the Spaniard at turn two to take back the lead.
The Briton managed to build a slender lead over Alonso, who in turn was able to pull away slightly from Webber, as the top three attempted to go as long as possible before switching to the slower medium compound tyre.
Hamilton went in first on lap 51 in a move which appeared to hand the advantage to Alonso and Webber, who looked to take advantage of the extra laps on their soft tyres.
Alonso managed two laps more before pitting for the final time himself but the Spaniard was unable to get ahead of Hamilton and Webber's decision to go as far as lap 56 also failed as the Australian had to settle for third.
Hamilton duly took victory by just under four seconds with Webber five seconds further back.
It was a measure of the performance of the top three that Vettel would finish up more than 47 seconds back in fourth place, ending his run of podium finishes this season. Following his early spin, Vettel ran fourth until the opening round of stops, when he dropped behind Felipe Massa's Ferrari.
Despite his best efforts, Vettel remained behind the Brazilian for the remainder of the race before the pair pitted for the medium tyres at the start of the final lap.
Red Bull was able to get Vettel out quicker and the German resumed in fourth with Massa forced to settle for fifth place.
Adrian Sutil was a fine sixth for Force India as he made a two-stop strategy work to his advantage to finish on the lead lap ahead of the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg. Rosberg has run fifth in the opening laps of the race but dropped back at the race wore on to finish seventh ahead of team-mate Michael Schumacher.
Schumacher had looked particularly racy in the opening stint of the race before spinning at the same place as Vettel, which cost him valuable time. The seven-time champion battled back well however to finish eighth with Kamui Kobayashi and Vitaly Petrov rounding out the top ten.
Sergio Perez took eleventh in the second Sauber ahead of Jaime Alguersuari and Paul di Resta, who was involved in an incident with Nick Heidfeld on the opening lap. Heidfeld was handed a drivethrough penalty for the incident but it mattered little as the German crashed out on the run to the final chicane after being forced onto the grass by Sebastien Buemi.
Heidfeld was one of four drivers to retire from the race, with Jenson Button forced out when a hydraulic issue saw him forced back to the pits shortly after he moved into sixth place; a poor start having dropped him down to tenth place.
Rubens Barrichello was halted by an engine issue while Tonio Liuzzi's Hispania ground to a halt at the pit exit having slowed on the start finish straight.