Alonso leads Ferrari 1-2 amid team orders in Germany

Fernando Alonso won the German Grand Prix today, ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa. However, this result was overshadowed by a coded team order from Ferrari to Felipe Massa, instructing him to allow Alonso through during the race. Behind the two Ferraris, Sebastian Vettel was third for Red Bull.

At the start, Vettel was slow to start, and both Alonso and Massa took 2 different routes to get around him. Fernando Alonso was pushed up by Vettel close to the wall, but still got through, while Felipe sailed around the outside and took the lead. At the hairpin, the Toro Rossos collided, with Jaime Alguersuari ripping off Sebastien Buemi’s rear wing, putting him straight out, and Jaime pitting for a new front wing.

Vitantonio Liuzzi hit the debris and pitted for repairs, but Adrian Sutil also pitted on the same lap. In a huge mix-up, the Force India team put each other’s tyres on both cars, which led to the FIA instructing the team to change the tyres again on both cars.

Jenson Button fell to 6th at the start, behind Mark Webber, who was overtaken by Lewis Hamilton. The top 6 began to swiftly move away from the rest of the field, as the super-soft tyres were holding up much better than expected. Sebastian Vettel got the ball rolling on Lap 12, when he switched to the hard tyres. This prompted a flurry of stops from the frontrunners, with nearly all of his rivals stopping in the next few laps.

Everyone except Jenson Button, that is. He opted to stayo out until Lap 22, and when he did change tyres, he got out ahead of Mark Webber to move into 5th place.

After this, the main battle was for the lead, with Alonso pressurising Massa. Up until Lap 28, Felipe kept Fernando at bay, until the Spainard decided to c0nserve fuel for a few laps, giving Massa a few seconds of room. However, within a few laps, Alonso had already began to catch up, and was less than 2 seconds behind.

Massa holding him up allowed Sebastian Vettel to close up behind Alonso, and this angered the team. Under no circumstances would they allow their 1-2 to be compromised, and they also felt that Alonso needed the extra points. So, on Lap 48, after a few laps of the team engineers arguing, Rob Smedley dejectedly sent a message to Massa: “Felipe, Fernando… is… faster… than… you. Can you confirm you understood that message?”

Clearly he did, as Massa slowed down to allow Alonso through on the next lap. Smedley simply said “sorry” to Felipe, as Fernando sailed away into the distance. Now, the focus switched to Mark Webber, who was under instruction to lift off on the straight, as he had an engine oil consumption problem. He managed it well, but he lost the opprtunity to challenge Button for 5th place.

While many were furious about the team order, it was very clear that Alonso was now much faster than Felipe, as Sebastian Vettel began to close on Massa. While he got within 1.4 seconds, he was unable to make a move for 2nd place.

Most drivers started on the super-soft, then switched to the harder tyre. However, both Pedro de la Rosa and Nico Hulkenberg decided to start on the hard tyre for most of the race first, then use the soft at the end. The strategy did not work though, as Hulkenberg and De la Rosa were 13th and 14th respectively.

With no more moves until the end, Alonso crossed the line first, 4.1 seconds ahead of Massa, with Vettel another second behind. The McLarens just didn’t have the pace today, as Hamilton and Button were 4th and 5th, more than 25 seconds behind Alonso. Mark Webber was another 14 seconds slower than Button, in a poor result for Red Bull.

With all the focus at the front, the other points-scorers went practically unnoticed. Robert Kubica was 7th, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. Vitaly Petrov was 10th, getting in the points for the first time since China.

It was a poor day for the new teams, with both Lotus cars retiring, followed by Lucas di Grassi and Sakon Yamamoto. Only Glock and Senna were classified in the finish. It was a disaster for Force India, with Liuzzi and Sutil 16th and 17th.

So, the German Grand Prix is over now, but the controversy over team orders has just begun. A post about it will be up soon.

The standings have also been updated, you can view them here.

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