Alonso leads from front to win at Hockenheim

Hockenheim (Germany): Fernando Alonso extended his lead in this year’s Formula One drivers’ world championship on Sunday when he drove to a flawless victory for Ferrari in the German Grand Prix.

Driving with perfect judgement and great speed, the 30-year-old Spaniard started from pole position and dominated the 67-lap race in consummate style as he came home 3.7 seconds ahead of local hero, defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull.

It was Alonso’s third win this year after his triumphs in Malaysia and at the European Grand Prix, and it was also the 22nd consecutive race in which he had finished in the points for Ferrari.

He moves 34 points clear of Mark Webber in the title race with 154 points to the Australian’s 120.

“We’ll enjoy the win,” said Alonso. “Starting on pole was the key factor because it was difficult to overtake and we were not the fastest but we kept the position.”

Briton Jenson Button of McLaren, who had proved the potential of his revamped car for a long spell in the race, came home third after being passed by Vettel, who ran wide and off the track, on the penultimate lap.

The race stewards announced they were investigating Vettel’s passing move, a statement that left the result unconfirmed pending the result of their decision and any chosen sanction.

“I had a great race out there and it is nice to be fighting at the front again,” said Button. “I don’t wish to comment at the moment about the manoeuvre at Turn Six.”

“I wasn’t sure if he was on the inside or not,” added Vettel, whose Red Bull team were were cleared to take part in the race after stewards decided to take no further action against them for reported engine mapping irregularities.

“The last thing you want to do is make contact. When we were side-by-side, I tried to give him enough room but it’s difficult to see.

“I went wide. We were all struggling with tyres, Jenson in particular, which is why I was able to pass him.”

McLaren team chief Martin Whitmarsh said: “Look where Jenson was at the end of the first stint, Vettel and Alonso were some way down the road and we had to hunt them down.

“Anyone who doubted Jenson’s hunger can put that now to the back of their minds. There is a bit of debate about what happened on the last lap and the stewards will take a view on that.”

Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth for Lotus ahead of Japanese Kamui Kobayashi and his Sauber team-mate Mexican Sergio Perez, who came home sixth.

Seven-time champion and German hero Michael Schumacher, 43, finished seventh for Mercedes ahead of Webber in the second Red Bull.

Button’s McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton, who had hoped to mark his 100th Formula One race with a race to remember, ended up with one to forget as he collected a puncture after two laps and eventually had to retire.

A crash on the opening corner involving the Ferrari of Felipe Massa, Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus and Brazilian Bruno Senna of Williams marred the start of the race but, surprisingly, there was no red flag following the incident.

As a result, a lot of debris was left on the circuit and led to Hamilton’s puncture.

“I have no idea [how the car got damaged]. I saw the debris come up and it damaged it,” said the 2008 world champion.

“The car felt terrible after that, the rear floor is damaged. The only positive I can take from this weekend is Jenson’s result.” (AFP)

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