Alonso pushes on as Hamilton provokes Vettel

 

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Fernando Alonso drove a champion's race in Hockenheim to extend his lead in the drivers' standings as he became the first man to win three times in 2012. But while the Spaniard was happy, fellow podium finishers Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button each had a gripe. The German slated a delayed Lewis Hamilton for unlapping himself at the height of his own battle with Alonso, while Button was unhappy with the way Vettel repassed him on the penultimate lap after his tyres had lost their edge.

"We were the fastest in yesterday's wet conditions," Alonso, right, beamed, "and I think that was the key factor today because it was difficult to overtake here. We were not the fastest but we kept the position. We had some good calls from the team on strategy, especially in our second pit stop when we had to react as Jenson pitted. We knew it was a long race after that, another 27 laps to end with Jenson putting on a lot of pressure, but the car was good on top speed and traction and I was able to control the tyres."

You wouldn't have put money on a Ferrari victory around the 45th of the 67 laps, however. The Spaniard kept Vettel at bay at the start, ahead of Michael Schumacher, but by the eighth lap Button had charged up to third to challenge them.

Alonso kept the lead after the first round of pit stops, but Hamilton came into play as they prepared for the second. On the third lap of his 100th race the McLaren driver struck debris from a first-lap collision between Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo and fell to the back of the field after limping back to the pits with a damaged rear tyre.

He then embarked on a 28-lap stint on the harder compound tyre before taking a fresh set of them on the 31st lap. By this point Button was closing in on both Alonso and Vettel. But soon, on his newer rubber, Hamilton was hauling them all in as he prepared to unlap himself. He overtook Button on the 35th lap, then Vettel, who waved his fist as the McLaren sliced cleanly by in the hairpin.

"That was not nice of him," Vettel said of Hamilton's decision to drive his own race and attack the leaders. "I could see no point of him trying to race us. It was stupid to disturb the leaders. I didn't expect him to attack."

The situation resolved itself when Alonso pitted on lap 41, a lap after Button. Vettel followed Alonso in, but when the two rejoined, Button had got between them and the race was on. By lap 45 the McLaren was less than a second behind. But every time Button got close, Alonso just managed to eke out sufficient advantage.

Comments