Alonso takes dominative victory at Hockenheim

Fernando Alonso has taken his 3rd victory of 2012, as he continues to assert his authority over the rest of the field. The Ferrari driver crushed the opposition, dominating the race from start to finish. Sebastian Vettel pipped Jenson Button to 2nd on the second-last lap, but is under imvestigation for an illegal pass.

The Saubers took 5th and 6th places, taking an alternate strategy, while Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton all suffered disastrous races. Here is what happened:Fernan

At the start, Alonso held his lead against Vettel, while Nico Hulkenberg defended against Michael Schumacher. First-lap carnage resulted in Felipe Massa, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean all pitting for repairs.

Lewis Hamilton had slipped down to 10th, and it soon became clear why – his rear left tyre was flat, and the McLaren crawled back to the pits.

The Saubers were 10th and 11th, and Kamui Kobayashi made a brave move on Perez. However, he appeared to hand the place back several laps later. Once clear, he moved past Paul di Resta for 9th. Meanwhile, Hamilton continued to complain of a damaged car, but still set times comparable to the frontrunners.

Teammate Button was making progress, taking Nico Hulkenberg and Michael Schumacher in a matter of laps. By the first set of stops, he was comfortably 3rd, and being told that he could win the race.

Further back, champions Raikkonen and Schumacher went wheel-to-wheel, the Mercedes driver making a daring move, passing the Lotus for 5th. However, he failed the pace to stay ahead, and was re-passes several laps later.

After pitting, Mark Webber was released into 11th position. He struggled on the prime tyres, taking his time passing Pastor Maldonado and Paul di Resta, both of which were off the pace. He tried a move on Kamui Kobayashi, but the Sauber driver defended his position well.

The battle for the lead began to materialise, with Vettel closing in on Alonso, and Button keeping a wary eye on the two, 5 seconds down the road. Interestingly, the lapped Lewis Hamilton began to come into play.

Going faster than the Ferrari or Red Bull, Hamilton passed Vettel on the straight, to the annoyance of Sebastian. Soon after, he was all over the back of Alonso, who didn’t feel the need to let him past. This allowed the top 3 to bunch up before the second round of pit stops.

Button was the first of the trio, taking on the primes once again. Both Alonso and Vettel pitted in response to the McLaren, but Jenson’s move had already placed him in 2nd place.

While Hamilton had passed the leaders, and assisted Button in his battle, he had run out of steam himself. Pushing for so long had ruined his 1-stop strategy, and was forced to pit from 16th place. With 10 laps to go, he gave up, and pulled into the garage to reture. Meanwhile, Webber was having a similarly torrid afternoon, stuck in 10th place and not going anywhere.

The Caterhams duelled for 20th place at the hairpin, with Heikki Kovalainen eventually winning out.

Up front, Fernando held firm against the McLaren’s charge, and soon Vettel began to hassle Button for 2nd place. With heavily worn tyres, he couldn’t stop Vettel’s assault, although the Red Bull took to the run-off area to take the position – something that may be investigated by the stewards.

While this battle was going on, Alonso had pushed out a sizeable lead, and comfortably took the chequered flag, having dominated the whole race. Vettel led home Button by 3 seconds, while Kimi Raikkonen’s 3-stop strategy failed to pay off.

Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez impressed with 5th and 6th for Sauber, taking different tyre strategies to the rest of the field. Michael Schumacher, running a 3-stopper, chased them down at the end, but was forced to settle for 7th. Webber was a disappointing 8th, while Nico Hulkenberg and Nico Rosberg concluded the top 10.

Alonso now leads the driver’s championship by 34 points to Webber, with Vettel only 2 points behind his teammate. Kimi Raikkonen, with 95 points, is now ahead of Lewis Hamilton

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