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THE German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring was one of the best races of the 2011 Formula 1 season so far, with three drivers (none of them Red
Bull’s reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel) fighting it out for the victory over the whole 60-laps.

Before the race began however there was bad news for Toro Rosso driver Sébastien Buemi. He was sent to the back of the grid because of an irregularity in his fuel from qualifying, were he qualified 16th on the grid.

The start line itself had been moved 240m (790’) closer to Turn 1, roughly halving the distance between the previous start-line and the first corner.

Unfortunately for pole-sitter Mark Webber (Red Bull) the shorter run down to the first corner couldn’t prevent him from keeping second on the grid, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) behind him at the start. Webber let his revs drop just as the lights went green, allowing Hamilton to roar past him and take the lead before the pack even got to the first turn.

Just behind the leading pair, the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were hounding Vettel, who was looking to win his home Grand Prix for the first time. Alonso forced his way up into third place ahead of Vettel, but Massa was passed by another German driver, Mercedes’ Nico
Rosberg.

Jenson Button (McLaren) had a poor start, dropping from seventh to tenth, while Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) made up a couple of places to go from tenth to eighth. Further back, Nick Heidfeld spun both himself and Force India’s Paul di Resta at Turn 3, dropping them both to the back.

As Alonso exited Turn 2 on lap 2, he put his Ferrari’s tyres on the damp carpet behind the curb and ran wide, allowing Vettel up into third place. However, Alonso took his third place back away from world championship leader on lap 8 by passing him up the inside at Turn 1.

A lap later Vettel spun off at Turn 10 after touching the white line, and instead of pursuing Alonso’s Ferrari, he had to focus on keeping Rosberg’s Mercedes and Massa’s Ferrari behind him. At this point in the race, Hamilton was just 0.7-second ahead of Webber and three ahead of Alonso.

Nick Heidfeld received a drive-through penalty for causing the spin between him and di Resta on the opening lap, but never got to serve it. The Renault driver was attempting to pass Buemi’s Toro Rosso around the outside before the Turn 14/15 chicane when Buemi moved over and put Heidfeld on the grass, which launched the Renault and sent it deep into the gravel trap. For his actions, Buemi has been given a five-place grid bump for the next race in Hungary.

A few laps later (lap 12) Hamilton’s lead had been cut by Webber to just half a second. Hamilton went into the Turn 14/15 chicane too deep and Webber got a run up the Englishman’s inside line as they rounded the final corner. Webber was now first and technically led his first lap of the 2011 season. But Hamilton knew his McLaren was faster in a straight line and showing massive balls, stuck his car in a McLaren shaped hole in between the pit wall and Webber’s Red Bull and drove clean past him, retaking the lead of the Grand Prix.

Webber pitted from second place at the end of lap 14 and rejoined the action behind the Vettel-Massa fight for fourth place (Rosberg had pitted earlier).

Massa got by Vettel at the chicane on lap 16 as Webber closed right up behind them. Vettel pitted immediately, allowing Webber to get into Massa’s slipstream as they raced down the start-finish straight. All this was happening while both Hamilton and Alonso were trundling down the pit-lane having just pitted for new soft tyres.

The quartet all got to the first corner together, with Massa emerging as the leader ahead of Webber who had undercut both Hamilton (now third) and Alonso.

Massa soon pitted and Webber could finally enjoy leading a race for the first time in ages. His joy could only last until the end of lap 30 (the halfway point of the race and the 2011 season) because he needed new tyres.

One lap later and Hamilton pitted, promoting Alonso to the lead of the race. Webber couldn’t make his fresher tyres work to their full advantage because he had Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus in front of him. This meant that Hamilton exited the pits back ahead of Webber and into the net-lead of the race.

Webber wasn’t going to go down without a fight mind, and attempted to go around the outside of Hamilton at Turn 2. But Lewis was wise to this move and hung Mark out to dry on the run-off area.

Alonso’s tyres lasted him until the end of lap 32. He surprisingly emerged from the pits still in the lead with Hamilton and Webber right up his
exhaust pipe. Hamilton got a much better run out of Turn 1 and drove his McLaren clean around the outside of Alonso at Turn 2 to spectacularly snatch the lead away from his former McLaren team-mate.

Speaking of team-mates, Lewis’s team-mate Jenson Button was busy passing people too. On lap 35 he took sixth place away from Nico Rosberg
at Turn 1 after the German had out braked himself. Unfortunately on the very same lap Jenson was called into the pits and retirement by his team because they had detected a terminal hydraulic problem. 😦

Webber and Alonso stayed with Hamilton out front for the next 15 laps. But it was now time to change to the significantly slower medium compound tyre. The race would be won or lost here. Who would blink first?

Out of the three leaders it was Hamilton who pitted for the medium tyres first at the end of lap 51. Vitaly Petrov (Renault) was the first driver to put the mediums on and was lapping extremely quickly, so McLaren decided to roll the dice.

Two laps later Alonso pitted but Webber carried on. Hamilton comfortably passed Alonso as the Spaniard was exiting the pits and was now second.

Three laps later Webber put the medium compound on and exited the pits third behind Alonso who was still behind Hamilton. Behind those three was the ongoing battle for fourth place between Massa and Vettel.

On the penultimate lap Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race, a 1:34.302 (122.123-mph) tour…and Massa and Vettel still hadn’t put the medium compound on!

In order to avoid the 30-second time penalty for not using both compounds in the race, Massa and Vettel pitted at the end of lap 59. The Red Bull pit crew worked lightning fast and got Vettel out before Ferrari could safely release Massa. Vettel was now fourth and on course for an extra two
world championship points.

But the man who was on course for 25 world championship points, his second win of the season and 16th career victory was Lewis Hamilton! He had written off his chances of winning on the Thursday, but proved himself and the world wrong on Saturday and Sunday to take yet another
memorable victory. 😀

Alonso, Hamilton and Webber on the podium.

Could this win spark an epic championship fight-back?

Alonso was second and Webber was third, but Alonso had to stop his Ferrari on the lap of honour because it had run out of fuel. Mark Webber converted his Red Bull into a Taxi and gave Alonso a lift back to the pits, causing all us nostalgia nuts to go all teary eyed for a moment. 🙂

“Turn 13 to the pit-lane...that’s £8.30 please, mate.”

Top 10 finishers of the LXXII (72nd) German Grand Prix, 2011:

  1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes. 60-Laps in 1h:37m:30.344 @ 118.097-mph, 25 Points.
  2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari. +3.980, 18 Points.
  3. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault. +9.788, 15 Points. His third-straight 3rd place.
  4. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault. +47.921, 12 Points.
  5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari. +52.252, 10 Points. His third-straight 5th place.
  6. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes. +1:26.208, 8 Points. His best finish this season.
  7. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes. +1 Lap, 6 Points.
  8. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes. +1 Lap, 4 Points.
  9. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber-Ferrari. +1 Lap, 2 Points.
  10. Vitaly Petrov, Renault. +1 Lap, 1 Point.

 

Well done to Karun Chandhok (Lotus) who finished his first race since Silverstone last year in 20th place.

The F1 circus now travels to Hungary for what are Jenson Button’s 200th Grand Prix and the 100th Grand Prix of 2.4 litre V8 engine.

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 10/19 Races.

Pos

Driver

Constructor

Points

Gap From 1st

1

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

216

2

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

139

77

3

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

134

82

4

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

130

86

5

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

109

107

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

62

154

7

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

46

170

8

Nick HEIDFELD (GER)

Renault

34

182

9

Vitaly PETROV (RUS)

Renault

32

184

10

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

32

184

11

Kamui KOBAYASHI (JAP)

Sauber

27

189

12

Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India

18

198

13

Jamie ALGUERSUARI (ESP)

Toro Rosso

9

207

14

Sergio PÉREZ (MEX)

Sauber

8

208

15

Sébastien BUEMI (SWI)

Toro Rosso

8

208

16

Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA)

Williams

4

212

17

Paul DI RESTA (SCO)

Force India

2

214

 

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 10/19 Races.

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

Gap From 1st

1

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

355

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

243

112

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

192

163

4

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

78

277

5

RENAULT (ENG)

Renault

66

289

6

SAUBER (SWI)

Ferrari

35

320

7

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

20

335

8

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

17

338

9

WILLIAMS (ENG)

Cosworth

4

351

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