Fernando Alonso wins German Grand Prix as Red Bull courts controversy
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Jul 2012   |  2:50 pm GMT  |  452 comments

[Updated] Fernando Alonso won the German Grand Prix from pole position, his third win of the season and another stunning drive under intense pressure by the Spaniard, who increased his lead in the drivers’ championship to 34 points.

It was the 30th win of Alonso’s F1 career, one less than Nigel Mansell and his second consecutive win at Hockenheim, following on from his controversial win in 2010.

Sebastian Vettel finished second on the road, his 40th podium in F1, with Jenson Button third, but afterwards Vettel was given a 20 second penalty by the stewards for passing Button by going off track with all four wheels. This dropped him to fifth place and promoted Raikkonen to the podium.

There was plenty of controversy as earlier Hamilton had repassed Vettel, when he had just been lapped by the world champion.

The situation around the Vettel pass on Button recalled Alonso’s move on Robert Kubica at Silverstone two years ago, where he went all four wheels off the track to pass and at that race the FIA Race Director ordered him to give the place back, which he could not do as Kubica pitted, so the stewards penalised him with a drive through penalty.

Button had got ahead of Vettel thanks to the fastest ever F1 pit stop at 2.31 seconds, which gave Button the chance to jump Vettel at the second stops.

Kimi Raikkonen got another good result in fourth with Kamui Kobayashi a candidate for driver of the day with a stunning drive from 12th on the grid to finish 5th for Sauber, ahead of team mate Perez.

It was a tense race, with the top three cars separated by less than 2.5 seconds after 60 laps of racing.

Button made a small mistake early in the final stint, flat spotting a tyre, which may have contributed to his problems at the end.

There was drama before the race; FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer had brought the Renault engines used by Red Bull to the attention of the stewards, claiming that the torque levels were not consistent with other races. The implication is that by changing the engine map the team had been achieving hot blowing of air to the diffuser. But just over an hour before the race the stewards issued a statement saying that, while they did not accept all of Red Bull’s explanations, they would take no further action as there was no specific wording for the rules around this area and that therefore the two Red Bull cars would be allowed to start the race in their normal position. However the wording of the statement hinted that this would be an area which would be closed in the near future.

At the start all the front runners went with the soft tyre, with Vergne, Rosberg, Pic and Glock on mediums.

Alonso got a good start to lead, while Schumacher attacked Vettel on the opening lap. Jenson Button gained a place to fifth, while Massa, Grosjean and Senna pitted at the end of lap 1 after contact damage. All switched to medium tyres to gain data for their team mates and to play a long stint strategy.

Hamilton had a poor start and ran into trouble with a puncture on the left rear tyre on lap 3, there was a lot of debris in Turn 1 from first corner tangles. It was a long slow lap into the pits for Hamilton.

He radioed in that he felt they should retire but they sent him back out with a new set of medium tyres, 64 seconds behind the the race leader.

Vettel harried Alonso in the opening stint, within the DRS detection zone of under one second.

Button passed Hulkenberg for fourth place on lap eight, closing quickly on Schumacher in third. He needed to pass him quickly to stay in touch with the leading pair.

He passed him straight away using DRS on lap 11.

Perez had had a strong opening stint and was up to 5th place by lap 14 after the first cars started to make stops. This netted him an 8th place after his own stop.

Some went with medium tyres, like Webber and Hulkenberg, while Schumacher and Raikkonen went with softs.

Both of them passed Hulkenberg in one move on lap 16 as the Force India driver struggled on the medium tyre.

Meanwhile Rosberg and Hamilton were lapping quickly on the medium tyre not having changed it since the start.

Alonso pitted for medium tyres on lap 18, having had data on them from Massa’s first stint.

Button stopped a lap later, also taking the medium tyres, as did Vettel, who not only lost time to Alonso by staying out the extra laps, but who came out behind Kobayashi. He managed to pass him quickly, however.

There was a superb battle between Raikkonen and Schumacher over fifth place, the Finn passed him and then drove away from Schumacher, on the same pace as leaders, 12 secs behind as the race approached half distance.

Alonso was not as fast on the medium tyre as Vettel and Button, who closed up on him.

By lap 29 Vettel was back within the DRS detection zone and Vettel closed right up as they came up to lap Hamilton.

On lap 34 the leaders lapped Hamilton but Vettel made a mistake and Hamilton reposed him, to Vettel’s disgust. This allowed Alonso to open a gap of over 2 seconds on Vettel and Button to close on Vettel.

Hamilton on fresher tyres had the pace to uncap himself on Alonso but sat behind him, apparently not wanting to influence the lead battle further.

Button pitted on lap 41, again choosing the medium tyres, as did Webber. Alonso came in on lap 42 with Vettel, who came out behind Button.

McLaren’s faster stop and Button’s out lap had made the difference. Now he set off after Alonso.

But in pushing hard, he flat spotted his right front tyre on lap 44. It didn’t seem to slow him down much, as he stayed within a second of the Ferrari, while Vettel dropped to two seconds behind.

Vettel pushed a bit too hard and on lap 53 ran wide at Turn 1, losing 8/10ths of a second in the process.

Schumacher’s 3rd stop put Kobayashi fifth, the Japanese driver proving very effective on a medium/medium/soft strategy, with a long first stint.

With four laps to go Button’s tyres began to show signs of losing performance, he had been the first of the three leaders to pit for the second time.

Vettel passed him, but went off track with all four wheels in the process, which Button complained about over the radio. The team indicated that the FIA were aware of it and the stewards did the right thing by giving Vettel a 20 second penalty.

“The rules state that you can’t go off the track to gain an advantage,” said Button. “The thing is, there would have been more opportunities for him before the end of the race as my rear tyres were damaged. That’s because I had to push hard to try and catch Fernando [Alonso], which meant I had nothing left for the end of the race. We pretty much ran out of rubber two laps before the chequer.

Vettel accepted the stewards decision, which drops him a further eight points behind Alonso in the championship, but said, “It was a difficult one, I didn’t know if he was on the inside or not,” said Vettel. “The last thing you want is contact. I can’t see him from the side of the car so I tried to give enough room and went wide. We were all struggling with our tyres and I think that was the case for Jenson and that’s why I passed him.”

“I was thinking he was still there and I didn’t want to close too early. I wanted to leave some space. The last thing you want at the end is to crash. So I decided to go off the circuit to make it safe. He had no traction but even on the slippery paint I was able to pass.”

GERMAN GRAND PRIX, Hockenheim, 67 laps
1. Alonso Ferrari 1h31:05.862
2. Button McLaren + 6.949
3. Raikkonen Lotus + 16.409
4. Kobayashi Sauber + 21.925
5. Vettel Red Bull + 23.732 (after 20 sec penalty added)
6. Perez Sauber + 27.896
7. Schumacher Mercedes + 28.960
8. Webber Red Bull + 46.900
9. Hulkenberg Force India + 48.100
10. Rosberg Mercedes + 48.800
11. Di Resta Force India + 59.200
12. Ricciardo Toro Rosso + 1:11.400
13. Massa Ferrari + 1:16.800
14. Vergne Toro Rosso + 1:16.900
15. Maldonado Williams + 1 lap
16. Petrov Caterham + 1 lap
17. Senna Williams + 1 lap
18. Grosjean Lotus + 1 lap
19. Kovalainen Caterham + 2 laps
20. Pic Marussia + 2 laps
21. De la Rosa HRT + 3 laps
22. Glock Marussia + 3 laps
23. Karthikeyan HRT + 3 laps

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Is there not an argument that Button could´ve gone at least a couple more laps on his first stint? He set a fasted lap on his lap before the in lap so there must’ve been some life left in them. With that in mind he may have had life left at the end to attack Alonso….?


I’m not going to read 400+ comments but I’ll say the Hamilton fans seem to have forgotten about him passing Rosberg at Bahrain will off the track. Did Hamilton get a penalty?


Its Alonso’s championship. And after 2008 I would say a “driver” who deserves it has won it.

Bravo, really. Take a bow!


Great quote from Peter Windsor – ‘It was difficult to see what Seb’s problem was: if a guy like Lewis Hamilton isn’t allowed to unlap himself and race to the flag, then what was the 1967 Italian GP all about?’.

Lots of different views on this point – that’s what makes this sport so good – everyone can have an opinion and this fabulous site allows us all to respectfully disagree but most importantly listen to others views.


Alonso has learned ITALIAN ???, well if he has learned it then i appreciate the champions efforts. He has left no stone unturned, is doing everythin to win the championship..


He speaks good Italian – its quite close to Spanish. Also speaks French


Cool and controlled race yet again by Alonso…class apart at the minute. Really disliked him after his time at McLaren, but gotta say his performances and persona of recent times has changed my opinion completely. Disappointed with Hammy today, again a petulant outburst early in the race that ‘we should retire’. Glad that McLaren decided to ignore him and send him back out. The race is never over until it’s over as he could not foresee what might happen later in the race and it annoys me immensely that he just wants to give up and disappoint the many fans that have paid there hard earned cash to watch him. He needs to keep his head in the game and his toy’s in the pram as it seems to me that his off track antics of recent times are again causing him problems on track.


When have you ever known Hamilton to want to give up before?

Perhaps he really thought that there was something wrong because of puncture damage.



No, it certainly sounded odd


Vettel’s comments about not knowing where Button was and wanting to avoid a collision are frankly ridiculous. It was Button’s responsibility to leave enough room for Vettel to go by on the outside; if they had crashed it would have been Button’s fault. Furthermore it’s a former world champion that Button was racing, not someone like Maldonaldo, and surely Vettel could have trusted Button to leave enough room? Vettel’s comments are like saying, “I don’t know if the driver up my inside is going to overshoot the braking zone, so I’ll cut the corner to avoid a crash.”


1) Hamilton was the nutter of the day, behaving like the spoilt child he is. “I think we should retire” after a puncture.

2) Why was Vettel penalized for his pass off the track when Hamilton was allowed to keep his place in Bahrain ??????


3) And why wasn’t he penalized for impeding a lead driver when he was a lap down ?? Is there any ambiguity in the rules, or is he actually allowed to do that?


Hamilton was driven off the track by Rosberg who left him no room. Button on the other hand gave Vettel sufficient space to go round the outside.


I don’t believe that was the reason because rosberg reached the edge of the track before Hamilton and Charlie whiting had mentioned somewhere that Hamilton was lucky to have gotten away without a penalty.

The stewards don’t have any consistency in giving out penalties and I feel that issue needs to be addressed.


Vettel invented his own track for several laps just how many corners did he go off on?!

DOD was Kobayashi- great job from 12th and that Sauber looks in good shape. Closely followed by Alonso- who I’m tipping for WDC 2012. He’s been absolutely fantastic in a poor car and now its improved he’s reaping the rewards. A deserved WDC if he gets it.

Dunce was Massa- I can see him being farmed out to another team for next year. Kobayashi’s seat is under threat apparantly- he responded well yesterday though.



With regards the Button/Vettel incident, what is the difference between that and the Rosberg/Hamilton incident earlier this year? (Bahrain i think?).


Hamilton had no choice but to drive off the road to avoid being hit!


Also didn’t the pass happen after they were both back on track.



I was watching the German GP 2003 earlier today.

What is the differenece between M. Schumacher overtaking Trulli in that race and Vettel overtaking Button yesterday?


Nine years and evolution of rules


Thanks James for the good analysis of the race as usual.

But James, I would like you to inform us if there is any rule on the language to use in F1. Yesterday, after Alonso and Button did their second pit stops and Button had a gap of 0.635 seconds to Alonso, The Ferrari team as is their new style, radioed him in Italian. The message was as follows: ” Le tue gomme sono in buone condizioni. Avevi fatto venti tre giri. Adesso ti manca solo venti giri”. The translation in english is” Your last set of tyres were in good condition. You did 23 laps with them. You have just 20 more laps to go”. Practically this was informing him that his tyres will be in good state at the end of the race and that he should defend his position from Button since if Button insist to attack him his tyres will go off early. This is what happened and at the end it was Button who was “overtaking” by Vettel. If There was anybody on the Mclaren pit wall who could understand a bit of Italian, He would have advise Button not to sit back hoping Alonso’s tyres will go “off” at the last laps since he “Button” is the “KING” of tyre management. So Button would have “COURAGEOUSLY” overtake him and puts himself on the number position of the podium. I think Mclaren should learn “AFRIKAANS” and Redbull should go for “Deutsch” if they have any hope of challenging Ferrari. [mod]

James I would like to know if there is any rule regarding communication in F1. When Hamilton packed his car on the track after qualifying in Canada last year, a rule was created, this year we have seen not 1,2,3… drivers packed their cars after races on the track but they were been APPLAUDED some even received STANDING OVATIONS. I have the feeling that if any team would have been doing what Ferrari is doing? especially Mclaren, the FIA would have come up with a “RULE AND REGULATION”. Please James I would like to get your opinion on this. I think the fact that Ferrari can understand the strategy of the other 11 teams and only Toro Rosso can understand theirs during races is an added advantage to the team which means there is no equity. Its just like using the kerb to overtake.


Afrikaans? Is jy seker dit sal werk? (Are you sure that will work)..lol. It’s quite simple really, all the teams need to do is get a translator for every race if they want to know what Ferrari are saying. Heck, I’d translate Afrikaans to English for any team long as they take me to all the races with them and feed and house me 🙂


Italian team, Italian engineer, and Alonso speak very well Italian.
I think “Yellow G-9” message to Jenson by McLaren is worst than speaking Italian. At least some people can understand Italian, unlike coded communication.


I am also enjoying watching Vettel throw all his toys out of his playpen… that usual smug smile has as usual been replaced by a spoilt brat sulk which appears whenever things dont go his way. A good decision by the stewards to penalise him for gaining a place by leaving the circuit, all he had to do was wait for his opportuinity, there were two more laps SEB!!!!

He needs to learn stratgey, yes Lewis had no chance of winning but by unlapping himself he helped his team mate and at least had the chance to chase a point or two. Well done Jensen and Fernando, a great fight.


Horrible luck for Hamilton, I think he could have come close to winning this race based on his laptimes. As for Red Bull, I think they have been doing what they have been doing since Bahrain onwards.


Where was the safety car after Massa’s front wing debris on the track which sliced LH’S rear tire….oh, just noticed it was a Ferarri that was leading, so no need. Also, against procedure, there was no mail to RB asking for Vettal to allow JB to re-pass (unlike in all other instances)


They incident happened in lap 1, so a SC wouldnt have any significant effect in the leader car (or any other car), simply because there was not time to get a gap over the rest of cars, so probably they should deployed it, but Alonso havent got any significant gap by lap 2 (o by any lap in the race), so a safety car would only had benefited him (a couple of laps without danger)


If you see LH post interview he clearly says there was no need for a safety car


Come on James, get us an interview with Kobayashi!!


Many times in the past I’ve critised Button for not being a top driver. Today he earned it and beat his team mate on the way as well. So kudos to him.


“and beat his team mate on the way as well”

What an asinine comment, even Karthikeyan beat Lewis today, he retired from the race.


Hi James was wondering if you are doing like a half term report or something like that on the site? Was wondering about what you make of the teams now halfway? Has Ferrari’s comeback been as good as it looked? Have Mclaren made too many errors? Who is your biggest disapointment so far? Button? Catherum? With another poor race and a win for Alonso how is Massa looking?


Good idea. Thanks

Midnight Toper


Two questions:

1) Why did it take so long for the Stewards to penalise Vettel. It was clear cut and the procrastination robbed Kimi of a podium celebration.

2) During qualifying, 3 of the faster drivers were facing a 5 place grid penalty. As I was watching on Satutrday I was curious what would have happened if MW, RG and NS had qualified 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Would they have started from 6th, 7th and 8th or, would they have started 3rd, 4th and 5th after the re-shuffle?


Because the incident happened late in the race and the procedures need to be done properly, not rushed through because a fans’ favourite driver might benefit!

Midnight Toper

I’m actually a fan of Vettel ever since meeting him in the paddock in Malaysia, both he and Mark were very open. But, I did wonder if they delayed to keep Vettel on the podium for the sake of the home fans?

How about the hypothetical scenario outlined in point 2? That’s the one I really would like to understand. If for example the top 5 drivers each had a 5 place grid penalty, would the polesitter remain on pole?



In light of Vettel’s penalty for overtaking outside of the white lines, I have a question for you as to why more incidents that happen outside of the white lines aren’t punished.

For example, you cannot cut a corner to gain time, but you can run wide to gain time, just as Alonso did on his Pole qualifying lap, and did multiple times throughout the race.

Why is this not looked at by the stewards?


They look at many things. Alonso aquaplaned off on his pole lap, so there was no intent there


Hmmm, I can’t say I totally agree with you there James.

If you look at the line he was taking consistently throughout the weekend, he was deliberately taking the wide line to get better drive out of the corner.

I’m not picking on Alonso, just using him as an example.

It seems only incidents of cutting corners are looked at as being advantageous. Would you agree?


I think if Button started on pole he would have probably won the race, so really the Ferraris were lucky that they benefitted from the wet qualifying session. With that said McLaren will be strong in the second half if they qualify well.


If qualifying was dry, many drivers that had punctures wouldn’t have had punctures.


I’m getting a little bit tired of everybody constantly talking up Alonso like he is some kind of God. He has done well but I’m sure that if Vettel or Hamilton were in Alonso’s position they would equal his performance.

Lets not forget

-the Ferrari is an extremely quick car (easily the quickest in the wet)

-the Ferrari team has performed brilliantly all year

-the Ferrari is one of the best with the Pirelli tyres

-the Ferrari has easily been the quickest car off the line all year

-Alonso has suffered no technical failures all year

-Alonso has been extremely lucky, benefiting from safety cars, the technical failures of his rivals and even the weather

I also find it funny how Alonso is constantly talking down his car, at the end of the race today he was saying again how Ferrari is behind it’s rivals and needs more pace. I have a strong suspicion that Alonso is trying to elevate his own performance.


At least he speaks Italian…


Thanks for the heads up on the problem with the other post, we modded it


I’ve just read it. Thanks a lot, James.


He doesn’t need to do that. Anyone can see that he is driving on a higher level than the rest at the moment.

If we have a fully dry weekend in Hungary you’ll see RBR and McLaren have a quicker car than Ferrari. But it’s about putting everything together and Alo is doing that at the moment which he is why he is where he is


“If we have a fully dry weekend in Hungary you’ll see RBR and McLaren have a quicker car than Ferrari”

Over one lap you could make an argument, it’s really hard to tell though as I believe that Hamilton and particularly Vettel are better qualifiers than Alonso anyway.

But I think you are forgetting tyre usage. The Mclaren was quick (at least at the start of the season) for one lap, but the race pace was pretty poor because of tyre degredation. The Ferrari has been extremely kind wit it’s tyres all year and this has been a huge factor in Alonso’s success. The race pace of the Ferrari has been quicker than it’s rivals (certainly quicker than the Mclarens) because of this. The Ferrari also seems to have the golden combination of good straight line speed and good traction which makes them extremely difficult to overtake.

The Red Bull will be quick in Hungary, their only weakness is straight line speed (which is the only reason that Alonso beat Vettel this weekend) and Hungary is all about downforce. However, they may be forced to play by the rules and stop using cold blowing in a way that is clearly against the spirit of the regulations, they would inevitabley lose some pace if this was the case.

I’d like to Alonso get the car and particularly the luck that Hamilton has had this year and then see people say that he is “driving on a higher level than the rest”.


You make your own luck, willing to retire on lap 1 does not help on that sense.


Andrew, as I said in a comment above, if McLaren or RedBull would’ve lead the race with Alonso second, do you think Alonso would’ve been able to keep up or even attack?

I don’t because it’s easier to drive in clean air. And that is why I believe Ferrari had better tyres at the end. Alonso didn’t had to defend hard or attack anyone, while Seb and Jenson both had to do that.

Also, let’s not forget Silverstone and how Alonso’s tyres went off.

Look what Vettel said after the race:

“The pace was there but it was extremely difficult when I was close to Fernando and Jenson we seemed to lose a lot and not be able to stay close enough to try to something under braking.”


Hi James,

Surely Ferrari wouldn’t sign up felipe massa for 2013. After the germany race he has slipped down to 14th on the drivers standings. He has only added little to their constructors title chance. So do you have any news on him, because surely they Ferrari one of the most famous sports teams in the world wouldn’t re sign him unless hes well inside the top 10 at the end of the season, or will a podium do it for him.


The word from Italy pre weekend was that the situation is ‘fluid” with Massa still having a chance, but Ferr looking at Di Resta, Hulkenberg, Perez etc.

I think Massa was unlucky with the start accident, but it happened because he was in midfield, not on front row with his team mate.

They have gone beyond the call of duty to protect him; his performances for the last two and a half seasons have been way short of good enough and that’s plain for all to see


What about Ricciardo?


Great race by Alonso, he has a tight grip on the championship lead now.

Strong race from Button, his result and the pace of Hamilton show that in the dry McLaren are a force. However, I think the DNF today coupled with an Alonso win rules Lewis out of the title battle.

I think Vettel is the only one who can stop Alonso now. Things have turned around so quickly this season…


Red Bull might have other issues that stop Vettel and Webber.


Decent race. Alonso continuing his virtually flawless season. Poor luck for Lewis but good to see Jenson having a strong race again. Looks like the car can challenge once more.

Right decision on Vettel.

Alonso’s got a decent points lead now but the other teams are still competitiveness to challenge. In fact the McLaren and Red Bull was probably the quicker car today.


“the McLaren and Red Bull was probably the quicker car today”

I think the Ferrari was the quicker car where it mattered on this circuit. It clearly had good straight line speed and excellent traction, this made Alonso virtually impossible to overtake.


But if it was a McLaren or RedBull leading the race with Alonso second, do you think Alonso would’ve been able to keep up or even attack like Seb and Jenson did?

I don’t.

We all know that being in clean air is very important for aero and tyres. Seb after the race said that the car felt OK with the exception when he was very close to a car in front:

“The pace was there but it was extremely difficult when I was close to Fernando and Jenson we seemed to lose a lot and not be able to stay close enough to try to something under braking.

“I am not entirely happy, it could have been a bit better if it was clean air most of the race but that was not the case. Second place was the best we could get today and I am happy with that.”

That’s why I think the Ferrari was the 3rd fastest car in Germany.


Yes Alonso had more pace running in clean air, but he didn’t have the benefit of DRS that Button and Vettel had.

I suspect that if the Red Bull was leading it would have been easy pickings for the Ferrari due to the Red Bull’s very poor straight line speed. We saw that Hamilton had no problem overtaking Vettel but Alonso was a different story due to the Ferrari’s good straight line speed and traction. I agree that if the Mclaren was in the lead then, like the Ferrari, it would have been difficult to overtake, although I’m still unsure whether the Mclaren can compete with the Red Bull and Ferrari’s tyre conservation.

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