ROUND 10 - Germany 20-22 July 2012
Circuit Length: 4.574 Km
Lap Record: 1:13.780 = 223.182 km/h, K. Raikkonen (McLaren) 2004
Pole Position: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 1:40.621 = 163.647 km/h
1st: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 1:31.05.862 (average race speed 201.843 km/h)
2nd: Jenson Button (McLaren Mercedes), gap 6.949s
3rd: Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus Renault), gap 16.409
Fastest Lap: Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), 1:18.725 = 209.163 km/h on lap 57
FAST-TRACKING FERNANDO: THE GERMAN GP IN 10 QUICK BITES
Fernando Alonso won the German Grand Prix in his red Ferrari to make himself a red-hot favourite to win the 2012 Drivers’ Championship after his third victory of the season. Always in total control, Alonso beat Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull to the line but the German was demoted to fifth for going off-track to pass Jenson Button’s McLaren. With Button second, Kimi Raikkonen was promoted to third – the fourth podium of 2012 for the Finn. Alonso now has a 34-point lead over Mark Webber, 154-120, with 10 races to go.
Alonso started from his second consecutive pole position and the 22nd of his F1 career – a tally that sees the Spaniard 11th in the all-time pole winners’ list with 22, with Nelson Piquet and Niki Lauda next in his sights on 24 each. His race win was the 30th of his career, leaving him one behind Nigel Mansell as the Spaniard hones in on fourth spot in the all-time standings.
Webber endured a low-key afternoon in his Red Bull, starting from eight after a five-place penalty for a gearbox change and finishing in the same position. “I had no pace today and wasn’t quick,” Webber complained. “I couldn’t stay with people that I normally can, so we’ll look into it and come back in Budapest. Normally Sundays have been ok for me, but not today. After the first lap it wasn’t too bad, I got Lewis [Hamilton], but after that I was just hanging on.” One consolation for the Australian is that he remains in second place in the drivers’ standings with a handy 10-point lead still over Vettel.
Vettel was philosophical about the stewards’ decision to impose a retrospective drive-through penalty, equivalent to 20 seconds, for his round-the-outside pass on Button with two laps to go. “The only intention was not to crash and to give him enough room. I have respect for him and I didn’t want to squeeze him,” Vettel explained. “It was good to be on the podium at the home race, but I have to respect the stewards’ decision.” ‘Car 1 left the track and gained an advantage when he rejoined,’ was how the stewards saw it.
For Button, after a run of six races that yielded a miserly six points, the race could be a turning-point. The McLaren star took two positives out of his result after he and Lewis Hamilton had qualified only seventh and eighth. “Firstly, although it proved very difficult to overtake, we’re right up there with Ferrari and Red Bull in terms of speed. Our upgrade package is working well: if we can sort out qualifying, we’re in the mix, and we’ll have a really good chance of winning races this season.” The other positive was a lightning-fast pit stop of 2.31 seconds by the much-maligned McLaren crew.
Hamilton, meanwhile, was the single retiree from the 67-lap event. He picked up a puncture from first-lap debris and was about to retire, but found mid-race pace to unlap himself before retiring on lap 56 as the car’s performance deteriorated. “We’ll put that pace in our pockets and take it to Hungary next weekend. I’m back in the car in five days’ time – and that’s the best possible news for me after a day like today,” he said. While Raikkonen turned in another fine race for Lotus, teammate Romain Grosjean had his now-customary first-lap bingle, pitted for a new nose and limped home 18th. It compounded a poor qualifying in which he was one of several drivers to pick up a five-place grid penalty. “We were on the back foot from the outset after the grid penalty and nothing went right today,” said the Frenchman, who has been offered advice on staying out of trouble by three-time World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart.
After a lean spell Sauber roared back to form with Kamui Kobayashi fourth and Sergio Perez two places further back. “If we only had qualified better we could have achieved even more today,” said the Japanese, who finished fifth on the road but was elevated to his best-ever F1 result. Perez did superbly to recover from a grid penalty imposed for baulking Raikkonen in qualifying and come through from 17th to the top six once more.
Behind them was Michael Schumacher, who could not find the pace to retain his third place on the grid but had the consolation of setting the fastest race lap in front of a thinner-than-usual home crowd. Teammate Nico Rosberg, another man to suffer a grid penalty, came through for the final point of the day in 10th place and remains sixth overall, six places clear of his compatriot, whose Mercedes future is likely to be resolved during the imminent summer break.
Daniel Ricciardo just missed out on the top 10 in qualifying and brought his STR home in 13th place, leaving the West Australian still in search of more points to add to the two he picked up on debut in Melbourne. As the car under-steered chronically he made repeated changes through the afternoon: “I ran the final stint with even more wing and that was the best the car had been all afternoon,” he said. “I was hoping to catch Di Resta, but with eight laps remaining, I started to lose grip at the rear end and that was it. We tried a bit of everything today, but unfortunately we did not have any answers.”