Nurburgring, Germany, July 24, 2011 (AFP) - Lewis Hamilton secured his second win of the year and 16th of his career on Sunday when he confirmed McLaren's renaissance with a brilliant victory in the German Grand Prix.
The 26-year-old Englishman, who started from second on the grid, took the lead from the start and produced a well-judged race supported by excellent strategy to resist strong challenges from his rivals and finish triumphant.
The 2008 champion controlled the race for long periods, but had to fight at times to retain his advantage as he came home 3.9 seconds ahead of second placed Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.
The two-times champion, who had won the British Grand Prix two weeks ago, finished a strong second ahead of third-placed Australian Mark Webber, the pole-sitter, of Red Bull and his team-mate and defending champion Sebastian Vettel, in fourth, after a brilliant final pit stop.
It was runaway leader Vettel's worst finish of a dominant season and signalled that, at last, the Red Bull team have a battle on their hands in the second half of the year. Brazilian Felipe Massa came home fifth for Ferrari ahead of Germans Adrian
Sutil of Force India, Nico Rosberg of Mercedes and his team-mate seven-times champion Michael Schumacher.
Japanese Kamui Kobayashi was ninth for Sauber, after starting 17th, and Russian Vitaly Petrov 10th for Renault. "Whooooah!" screamed a delighted Hamilton, after winning for the first time since the Chinese Grand Prix in April. "Yes that is more like it! This is great. Thank you guys, you guys, that was amazing."It was just great and we have to keep pushing. These are the results that we can get - the car was really nice to drive today." His team responded: "A fantastic job and fantastic win."
Alonso stopped out on the track on the slow-down and had to hitch a lift, sitting on Webber's car, back to the pit lane as he ran out of fuel.
Vettel remains out in front of the title race by 77 points with 216 ahead of Webber on 139 and Hamilton, now third, on 134. Alonso is fourth on 130. On a cold, damp day, following overnight rain in the Eifel mountains, the track temperature was only 15 degrees Celsius and the air temperature just 12 degrees as rain fell before the start.
It was not enough to create serious problems as Hamilton demonstrated by accelerating off the grid to lead into the first corner ahead of pole-sitter Webber.
Hamilton, enjoying the revitalised pace in his car, opened up a 2.2 seconds lead by lap four, but Webber then responded and reduced it to seven-tenths by lap 11.
Alonso regained third on lap eight with a daring passing move on Vettel at turn one and the German then spun on lap 10, when he ran over white lines in the wet conditions, flat-spotting his tyres.
Hamilton and Webber then conducted a thrilling duel at the front with Alonso close behind, with a box seat view, as the Australian took the lead when Hamilton ran deep at turn 15 before responding with a bold pass inside turn one on lap 13.
"Could you stop talking to me while I'm racing," Hamilton snapped on the team radio.
Webber pitted at the end of lap 14 and re-entered in traffic. Hamilton and Alonso followed one lap later, handing the lead to Massa who resisted a Webber challenge before he boxed and, in turn, gave Webber the lead as the Australian made his early 'under cut' pit stop pay by a car's length.
Webber opened a 1.3 seconds gap at the front on Hamilton who was the same time ahead of Alonso by lap 22 when a struggling Vettel managed to pass Massa for sixth. The second round of pit stops saw Webber dive in first. Hamilton led and
pitted after 31 laps emerging to fight and retain his lead while Alonso pitted and emerged in front, briefly, before the inspired Briton charged round him at turn two.
This left Hamilton in front ahead of Alonso and Webber after 35 laps and it stayed that way as the conditions, of weather and grip, improved until Hamilton made his final stop after 51 laps.
Alonso led for two laps and then he also pitted leaving Webber out in front on used soft tyres as Hamilton and Alonso chased him down. Webber came in, finally, with three laps to go leaving Hamilton ahead of Alonso as they ran towards the chequered flag.
|2011 GERMAN GRAN PRIX RACE RESULTS|
|2||4||2||15||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||60||+3.9 secs|
|3||1||-2||12||2||Mark Webber||RBR-Renault||60||+9.7 secs|
|4||3||-1||8||1||Sebastian Vettel||RBR-Renault||60||+47.9 secs|
|5||5||0||18||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||60||+52.2 secs|
|6||8||2||10||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||60||+86.2 secs|
|7||6||-1||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||59||+1 Lap|
|8||10||2||6||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||59||+1 Lap|
|9||17||8||1||16||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||59||+1 Lap|
|10||9||-1||10||Vitaly Petrov||Renault||59||+1 Lap|
|11||15||4||17||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||59||+1 Lap|
|12||16||4||19||Jaime Alguersuari||STR-Ferrari||59||+1 Lap|
|13||12||-1||2||15||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||59||+1 Lap|
|14||13||-1||12||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Cosworth||59||+1 Lap|
|15||24||9||18||Sebastien Buemi||STR-Ferrari||59||+1 Lap|
|16||18||2||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus-Renault||58||+2 Laps|
|17||19||2||24||Timo Glock||Virgin-Cosworth||57||+3 Laps|
|18||21||3||4||25||Jerome d'Ambrosio||Virgin-Cosworth||57||+3 Laps|
|19||22||22||Daniel Ricciardo||HRT-Cosworth||57||+3 Laps|
|20||20||21||Karun Chandhok||Lotus-Renault||56||+4 Laps|
|Ret||23||23||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT-Cosworth||37||+23 Laps|
|Ret||7||4||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||35||+25 Laps|
|Ret||14||11||Rubens Barrichello||Williams-Cosworth||16||+44 Laps|
|Ret||11||9||Nick Heidfeld||Renault||9||+51 Laps|