• German Grand Prix

Hamilton holds off Alonso and Webber for victory

ESPNF1 Staff
July 24, 2011

Lewis Hamilton drove a faultless race to win an exciting German Grand Prix as championship leader Sebastian Vettel could only manage fourth at the Nurburgring.

Hamilton came out on top in a three-way battle for the lead ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Red Bull's Mark Webber that went right down to the final pit stops. All three drivers led the race at least twice and first place swapped between them in the final ten laps, which were crucial for Hamilton's victory.

The McLaren driver led away from the grid after Webber got a bad start from pole position and fell to second. Throughout the race Webber was quicker in the middle sectors but didn't have the overall pace on the soft tyres to turn it into victory and just failed to pass Hamilton for the lead as the McLaren rejoined after its second stop.

All three drivers opted for three-stop strategies and it was a fine line between stopping before the tyres gave up their grip and getting the most from each set. McLaren more or less measured it to perfection, but Hamilton needed to pull off a brave move around the outside of Alonso as the Ferrari rejoined after its second stop to ensure he kept the lead. That proved to be crucial as he then dictated the final two stints and despite going on to the slower medium tyres first, he came out on top.

Vettel came through to finish fourth after battling for half the race with Ferrari's Felipe Massa. The pair were also on three-stop strategies, but only came in for medium tyres (which they had to use under the rules) at the end of the penultimate lap. Red Bull's pit crew proved more efficient than Ferrari's and Vettel came out in front. But it was an unusual off day for the championship leader at his home race and he couldn't live with the pace of the top three. He also had an uncharacteristic spin when he put a wheel on the wet Astroturf on the entrance to turn eight and spun into the infield.

After a bad start Jenson Button had the potential to join the fight but had to retire his McLaren after 35 laps with a hydraulics problem. He'd just passed Adrian Sutil who went on to take an impressive sixth place in the Force India. He was the highest placed two-stopper in the field and used his strategy to completely outperform the potential of his car at his home race.

Nico Rosberg finished seventh in the highest placed Mercedes, ahead of team-mate Michael Schumacher. Rosberg took a lot out of his tyres defending from Massa early in the race and Schumacher had the potential to pass him midway through the race. However, the seven-time world champion spun on the entrance to the chicane that bears his name and had to fight hard to get back to eighth.

Two-stop strategies for Kamui Kobayashi and Vitaly Petrov delivered them to the final two points paying positions, with the Sauber driver making up nine positions from his grid spot to finish ninth and the Renault finishing tenth.

Nick Heidfeld had the most spectacular accident of the race in the second Renault when he attempted to pass Sebastien Buemi and was squeezed onto the grass. He retired as a result but it also brought an end to Buemi's competitive chances and the Toro Rosso finished 15th.