Hockenheim, July 22 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Fernando Alonso stretched his lead in the Formula One drivers’ championship with an imperious win at the German Grand Prix Sunday.
The Ferrari driver held off title rival Sebastian Vettel and a resurgent Jenson Button for the win. Alonso is now 34 points clear at the top of the table, ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Vettel.
Webber only managed to finish eighth, damaging his championship chances.
“That was fantastic again,” Alonso said. “Tonight we have some parties on the plane.”
Vettel said that he had battled “like a lion” but had been unable to match Alonso’s pace in the final stages of the race.
Alonso put in a disciplined performance and for most of the race kept his lead over first Vettel, and then Button in the McLaren at over the one-second margin required for his challengers to use their DRS speed-boost device.
Starting from sixth, Button dispatched Michael Schumacher with a lunge down the inside of the hairpin as he worked his way up the field, before stealing second place from Vettel on lap 42 with some fast laps and a rapid pit-stop from the McLaren crew.
Button, whose performance represented a remarkable resurgence for a man without a podium since April, whittled away at Alonso’s lead but the Spaniard matched his pace and held on for the win.
Vettel overtook Button with one lap remaining, but passed while off the track, prompting a stewards inquiry which will be investigated by the FIA.
Vettel defended the move after the race, saying he had no idea where Button was. “I can’t see him from inside the car,” he said in televised comments.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in the Lotus, ahead of the Saubers of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez with Schumacher seventh for Mercedes.
Schumacher, the last German to win his home race in 2006, had raised hopes of an unlikely challenge for the lead as he threatened Vettel on the first lap, but fell back down the field after Vettel’s defensive driving kept the seven-time champion at bay.
Behind Webber in eighth, the German duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Nico Rosberg took the last of the points in ninth and tenth.
Lewis Hamilton, competing in his 100th race, saw his challenge end early on with a puncture on the third lap that forced him to pit, while the first lap had already seen Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean and Bruno Senna in for repairs after a series of collisions.
Despite being far down the field, Hamilton then put in competitive lap times throughout the race and even unlapped himself from Vettel in a show of force before finally retiring on lap 58.
The next race is in Hungary.