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Sun, 22 July, 2012Alonso fends off Vettel, Button for German win

  • Fernando Alonso (Ferrari F2012). © Ferrari.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso came out on top in a race-long battle with Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button in Germany on Sunday to extend his championship lead to 34 points ahead of Budapest next weekend. The Spaniard led the entire race from pole, other than three laps during the pitstops, have soaked up intense pressure first from Vettel and then Button in the battle for 25 points.

The three podium finishers all opted for an identical tyre strategy of Soft/Medium/Medium, leaving it down to the drivers to fight it out between themselves. A perfect start by Alonso saw him easily take the lead into turn 1, before gradually opening up a 2.2-second lead during the first stint. He was the first of the trio to pit on lap 18, by which point Button was almost eight seconds down the road.

Alonso easily kept the lead when Vettel pitted two laps later, but the German slowly closed the gap, to just under seven tenths at one point, but never got close enough to challenge. He then lost out to Button during the final round of stops when the Briton pitted a lap earlier than the leading duo, having spent the previous stint more than halving the deficit.

Lapping at near identical pace to Alonso, Button kept the gap at under a second for more than ten laps, but like Vettel was never able to get close enough to challenge, and as his tyres faded in the final five laps Vettel pounced to snatch second, albeit in controversial circumstances by running off the track at the exit of the hairpin. The stewards will meet after the race to determine if the move was legitimate.

Kimi Räikkönen was best of the rest for Lotus in a distant fourth place, more than 16 seconds behind Alonso, while Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Pérez brought home valuable points for Sauber in fifth and sixth, the latter just ahead of home hero Michael Schumacher.

British Grand Prix winner Mark Webber could do no better than eighth, where he started, while Germany's Nico Hülkenberg and Nico Rosberg rounded out the top ten, with Hülkenberg's two points pushing Force India to just one point behind Williams in the constructors' championship table.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was the only retirement from the race, after handling problems forced him to stop for safety reasons. He picked up a puncture on the second lap, before limping back to the pits which caused significant damage to his MP4-27.

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