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2011 Formula 1 : Hamilton takes a brilliant German GP victory

Written By Nathen Bridgwater on Sunday, July 24, 2011 | 11:06 AM


2011 F1 - German Grand Prix winner : Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren Mercedes, MP4-26

NURBURGRING, Germany : July 24, 2011 - A racy Lewis Hamilton put McLaren firmly back into championship contention with a confident win in the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring on Sunday.



2011 F1 - German Grand Prix winner : Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren Mercedes, MP4-26

Hamilton made the early running for the first third of the race before both Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault) took turns at the front. After the final round of pit stops, Hamilton once again took the lead and was unchallenged as he reeled off a string of fastest laps on his way to the flag.

Hamilton's McLaren crossed the line four seconds clear of Alonso, with Webber ten seconds off the pace in third. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was well back in fourth place (+47.9) followed by Felipe Massa (Ferrari) +52.2 and Adrian Sutil (Force India) +86.2.

Reigning world champion Vettel (216) continues to lead the 2011 title chase, but with a reduced lead over Webber (139) and Hamilton moves into third place with 134. In the constructors' championship the positions remain unchanged with Red Bull (355) leading from McLaren (243) and Ferrari (192).

As the race got under way, Hamilton out-dragged pole man Webber off the line to lead into the first corner and completed the first lap with a one-second lead over his pursuers Webber, Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault). Nick Heidfeld (Renault) and Paul di Resta (Force India-Mercedes) both spun off in the first corner and the incident came under the investigation of the race stewards.

On the second lap, Alonso ran wide and allowed Vettel to slip through into third, and he ran wide again on the next lap.

The Nürburgring is situated up in the Eifel Mountains and often has inclement weather. As the cars waited on the grid for the race to start, light rain was forecast, with the air at a very cool 13°C and the track just 15°C. The track surface was still damp from an earlier shower and minutes before the start of the parade lap, it began raining lightly again.

The drivers had all elected to start the race on the same (dry) tyres as those they used for Saturday's qualifying, but as the rain continued to come down, and with the track temperature so cool, it looked likely that they would all be battling for grip in the opening laps.

The Drag Reduction System option had been disabled by the FIA, as race director Charlie Whiting is entitled to do for wet races, but on lap 3 the system was allowed.

By lap 5, Hamilton had opened up his lead over Webber to two seconds but the Australian set the fastest lap of the race so far - 1'37.659.

Felipe Massa (Ferrari) was down in sixth place and made an attempt to get past Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) but was unsuccessful. He was just 0.4 sec behind the German and although he was using the DRS, it wasn't giving him any advantage.

On lap 8, Alonso's persistence paid off and he got past Vettel into third.

On the next lap, Sergio Perez (Sauber-Ferrari) was the first to make a pit stop. Then championship leader and reigning champion made a mistake at Turn 10, touching the paint line under braking and doing a half spin, losing seven seconds, and bringing Rosberg right up to him.

Heidfeld tangled with the inexperienced Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) and the German crashed off into the gravel trap.

Massa got up the inside of fifth-placed Rosberg and took away the place in the final corner.

On lap 13 Webber caught Hamilton and got past into the lead at the final corner, but Hamilton took a tow from the Red Bull down the main straight and got past Webber again before Turn 1 as Alonso closed in from behind, the top three cars covered by just 0.7 sec. On the next lap, Alonso got his nose ahead of Webber briefly, but the Australian held onto his second place.

On lap 14, Webber pitted and returned to the race in the middle of traffic as Alonso moved into second place, 1.3 sec behind race leader Hamilton.

Further behind, Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes), who had a bad start off the grid, losing three places, was having a big dice with Vitaly Petrov (Renault) for eighth place.

Web set a new fastest lap of 1'37.003 on lap 16 as Hamilton rejoined the race alongside the flying Australian whose pace carried him to the first corner ahead of Hamilton but behind Alonso, who now led the race. Alonso pitted at the end of lap 17 and for the first time this season, Webber took the lead of a race.

Vettel pitted next and returned to the race a place down in fifth as Webber set another fastest lap - 1'36.947, followed by Hamilton's 1'36.585 on lap 20.

On lap 25, Schumacher repeated Vettel's earlier and elementary error, braking on the paint line and spinning off the track. He was able to continue in ninth place.

Hamilton was still in touch with race leader Webber 1.4 seconds ahead and was 1.3 seconds clear of Alonso behind. Vettel was down in fifth place and lapping consistently a second off the pace of the front-runners.

Petrov, Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) and Button all pitted on lap 25, the 2009 world champion rejoining in eighth place, 2,2 sec behind Adrian Sutil (Force India-Mercedes) as Rubens Barrichello (Williams-Cosworth) retired after his pit told him his engine was about to fail. On the same lap, Alonso set a new fastest time of 1'36.258 as the fuel loads came down.

Button caught up with seventh-placed Sutil on lap 26 and began to look for a way past.

As the cars completed the 30th lap of the German Grand Prix, they reached not only the halfway mark of the race, but also the midway point of the 2011 season.

Webber pitted at the end of lap 30, releasing Hamilton into the lead once again, 0.6 sec ahead of Alonso. Hamilton pitted on lap 31, and Alonso inherited the lead. Hamilton rejoined the race crucially ahead of Webber who drew alongside in Turn 2 but Hamilton closed the door and the Australian had to back off.

Hamilton caught up with Alonso as he rejoined from his pit stop, and Hamilton did to him successfully what Webber tried to do to him and the McLaren surged through into the lead once more, setting a new fastest lap of 1'35.224 in the process.

Button was having a big dice with Rosberg for sixth and his relentless pressure caused the German to make an error, allowing Button to get past, but moments later Button's pit boss said over the radio: "Pit this lap - we have to retire the car. We have a hydraulics problem."

On the same lap as one McLaren retired, the other, leading the race, set a new fastest lap of 1'35.063.

Button cruised slowly back to the pits to embarrassingly retire the Mercedes-engined car in front of a German crowd. Rosberg got his sixth place back, but pitted on the next lap for soft compound tyres, and would have to make another late pit stop for fresh rubber. His team mate Schumacher pitted next for the same option of rubber, both cars on a three-stop strategy.

Rosberg rejoined in eighth behind Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber-Ferrari) and at the end of his out lap, he tried to overtake the Japanese into Turn 1, but Kobayashi would have none of it and drove around the German to take back the place. On the next lap, Kobayashi ran slightly wide after out-braking himself into Turn 1, and Rosberg needed no second invitation to grab seventh place.

Hamilton was pumping in a series of quick laps as Alonso's challenge for the lead began to fade and the gap between them opened up to four seconds with 17 laps remaining.

Sixth-placed Vettel ran up behind a back-marker down the back straight and had a lockup going into the final chicane, taking the escape road and rejoining without further incident. He recovered and closed up on Massa who was in fourth place. The Brazilian was late on the brakes in the same place as Vettel a lap earlier, and he abandoned the second half of the chicane but retained his place.

Further back, on lap 46, Schumacher was 0.8 sec behind Petrov and getting ready to challenge for ninth place. They both arrived at the final chicane carrying too much speed and neither took a clean line through it, and as they came down the main straight, Schumacher got a tow behind the Renault and got past in Turn 1. Petrov pitted for the final time at the end of that lap.

Vettel had been having (by his standards) a poor afternoon but on lap 47 he set a new fastest lap of 1'34.587 as he reeled in Massa 0.38 sec ahead.

Race leader Hamilton pitted on lap 51, taking on a set of brand new tyres for his final nine laps. Alonso was released into the lead, followed by Webber, 4.1 sec behind.

Alonso stayed out on his worm tyres, but his Ferrari was starting to fishtail out of the corners as it lost grip, but he pitted on the next lap, handing the lead back to Webber who was still to pit. Alonso rejoined the race, but crucially behind Hamilton in third place.

Webber was now leading but on worn tyres, and his sector times were slower than Hamilton's who took 0.6 sec out of Webber's 12.7 sec lead.

With four laps to go, British GP winner Webber was still out and losing time to Hamilton, while team mate Vettel was attacking Massa for fourth place. On lap 56, Webber finally pitted and rejoined in third place as Hamilton surged past into the lead once again, 2.9 sec ahead of Alonso.

"OK Lewis, you are P1!" said Hamilton's pit boss over the radio. "You are three seconds ahead of Alonso and the fastest car on the circuit."

The German fans would not have been best pleased to see both Rosberg and Schumacher being lapped by the race leaders.

Massa and Vettel provided the excitement over the closing laps as they sparred over fourth place. Both cars were waggling as they powered out of the slower corners and they both were obliged by the regulations to make a final stop for tyres as Hamilton set a new fastest lap of 1'34.302.

Massa and Vettel pitted line astern on the final lap, but Red Bull's pit crew were quicker than Ferraris' and Vettel emerged ahead of Massa to complete the last lap.

There was no such late drama for Lewis Hamilton who scored his second win of the year and moved into third place in the championship behind Vettel and Webber.

2011 Formula 1 : German Grand Prix : Race result

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1
3
Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
60
1:37:30.334
2
25
2
5
Fernando Alonso Ferrari
60
+3.9 secs
4
18
3
2
Mark Webber RBR-Renault
60
+9.7 secs
1
15
4
1
Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault
60
+47.9 secs
3
12
5
6
Felipe Massa Ferrari
60
+52.2 secs
5
10
6
14
Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes
60
+86.2 secs
8
8
7
8
Nico Rosberg Mercedes
59
+1 Lap
6
6
8
7
Michael Schumacher Mercedes
59
+1 Lap
10
4
9
16
Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
59
+1 Lap
17
2
10
10
Vitaly Petrov Renault
59
+1 Lap
9
1
11
17
Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari
59
+1 Lap
15
12
19
Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari
59
+1 Lap
16
13
15
Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes
59
+1 Lap
12
14
12
Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth
59
+1 Lap
13
15
18
Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari
59
+1 Lap
24
16
20
Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault
58
+2 Laps
18
17
24
Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth
57
+3 Laps
19
18
25
Jerome d'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth
57
+3 Laps
21
19
22
Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth
57
+3 Laps
22
20
21
Karun Chandhok Lotus-Renault
56
+4 Laps
20
Ret
23
Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth
37
Electrical
23
Ret
4
Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
35
Hydraulics
7
Ret
11
Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth
16
Oil leak
14
Ret
9
Nick Heidfeld Renault
9
Accident
11

2011 Formula 1 : Championship standing

Pos Driver Nationality Team Points
1
Sebastian Vettel German RBR-Renault
216
2
Mark Webber Australian RBR-Renault
139
3
Lewis Hamilton British McLaren-Mercedes
134
4
Fernando Alonso Spanish Ferrari
130
5
Jenson Button British McLaren-Mercedes
109
6
Felipe Massa Brazilian Ferrari
62
7
Nico Rosberg German Mercedes
46
8
Nick Heidfeld German Renault
34
9
Vitaly Petrov Russian Renault
32
10
Michael Schumacher German Mercedes
32
11
Kamui Kobayashi Japanese Sauber-Ferrari
27
12
Adrian Sutil German Force India-Mercedes
18
13
Jaime Alguersuari Spanish STR-Ferrari
9
14
Sergio Perez Mexican Sauber-Ferrari
8
15
Sebastien Buemi Swiss STR-Ferrari
8
16
Rubens Barrichello Brazilian Williams-Cosworth
4
17
Paul di Resta British Force India-Mercedes
2
18
Pedro de la Rosa Spanish Sauber-Ferrari
0
19
Jarno Trulli Italian Lotus-Renault
0
20
Vitantonio Liuzzi Italian HRT-Cosworth
0
21
Pastor Maldonado Venezuelan Williams-Cosworth
0
22
Jerome d'Ambrosio Belgian Virgin-Cosworth
0
23
Heikki Kovalainen Finnish Lotus-Renault
0
24
Timo Glock German Virgin-Cosworth
0
25
Narain Karthikeyan Indian HRT-Cosworth
0
26
Daniel Ricciardo Australian HRT-Cosworth
0
27
Karun Chandhok Indian Lotus-Renault
0

2011 Formula 1 : Team Championship Standing

Pos Team Points
1
RBR-Renault
355
2
McLaren-Mercedes
243
3
Ferrari
192
4
Mercedes
78
5
Renault
66
6
Sauber-Ferrari
35
7
Force India-Mercedes
20
8
STR-Ferrari
17
9
Williams-Cosworth
4
10
Lotus-Renault
0
11
HRT-Cosworth
0
12
Virgin-Cosworth
0

[Source : Official F1, Supersport ZA, CRASH.NET]
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