HOCKENHEIM, (Germany): Fernando Alonso led from pole position to chequered flag to win the German Grand Prix for Ferrari yesterday while Germany’s Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel was stripped of second place for an overtaking infringement.
The Spaniard’s third win of the season stretched his championship lead to 34 points and ensured he will stay on top through the European summer break which starts after next weekend’s race in Hungary.
Vettel, who has yet to win his home grand prix and indeed any race in July, went wide as he and the Briton went through a corner side by side. He was handed a 20 second penalty that demoted him to fifth.
Button moved up to second place, ending a run of disappointing performances, and Finland’s 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen took third for Lotus.
Vettel was still the best German performer on an unhappy day for home fans. Seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher finished seventh for Mercedes while Nico Hulkenberg, after starting alongside Schumacher on the second row of the grid, dropped back through the field to finish ninth for Force India.
He was one place ahead of compatriot Nico Rosberg, Schumacher’s Mercedes team mate.
Alonso’s win was Ferrari’s 219th and the 30th of the Spaniard’s career.
“That was fantastic again, pole position…victory.” he told his team after taking the chequered flag. “Tonight we have some parties at least.”
The Ferrari driver has 154 points to 120 for Red Bull’s Australian Mark Webber, who finished eighth. Vettel has 110 after 10 of the season’s 20 races.
Champions Red Bull lead the constructors’ standings with 230 points to Ferrari’s 177 and McLaren’s 160.
Button’s podium finish was a boost for McLaren, who moved ahead of Lotus in the standings, but it was soured for the team by Lewis Hamilton suffering a puncture early in his 100th race and having to retire.
Alonso started on pole and held off challenges from Vettel and then Button as he stormed to victory in warm, sunny conditions, a stark contrast from the heavy rain which fell during practice and qualifying.
Alonso, who won on the last occasion a Grand Prix was staged at Hockenheim two years ago, briefly surrendered his lead after the first of his two pit stops but the double champion otherwise dominated the race despite being under intense pressure throughout.
Alonso praised the timing’s of his pit stops. “The team took a few strategic decisions which were spot on,” he said. “It was a very close race from start to finish. We did not have the quickest car. McLaren and Red Bull had a little bit extra but not enough to get past.”
Webber, winner of the previous race at Silverstone, had started eighth after a five place demotion on the starting grid for an unauthorised gearbox change.
“We had a decent race today although there wasn’t enough pace when we got close to Fernando,” said Vettel.
Referring to the overtaking, he said: “The only intention was not to crash and to give him enough room. I have respect for him and didn’t want to squeeze him.
“It was good to be on the podium at the home race, but I have respect for the stewards’ decision.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner had said before the decision was announced that a penalty for Vettel would be “very harsh”, describing it as “a racing incident.”
McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh said the rules were clear: “You can’t drive off the track and gain an advantage and overtake.
“That’s the normal rules of motor racing. We’re in the heat of battle and the stewards are the best people to look at that.”
Vettel was also angry with Hamilton for trying to overtake him while one lap behind.
“That was not nice of him, I don’t see we he’s trying to race us, it’s stupid to disturb the leaders,” said the German, who gesticulated at the McLaren as it went past and said the incident cost him some time.
Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi finished fourth for Sauber, after Vettel’s demotion with Mexican team mate Sergio Perez sixth.