Lacklustre at their home race and written off as contenders for this weekend’s win before the cars had even hit the track, McLaren had something of a point to prove at the Nurburgring. And, after his recent vocal outbursts, it was appropriate that Lewis Hamilton did his talking on the track to score one of the finest victories of his career. The Brit won a thrilling three-way battle with Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso to take triumph in Germany as Sebastian Vettel’s stunning form deserted him at the last place he’d have wanted – his home grand prix.
Hamilton got ahead of Webber at the start, the Aussie once again fluffing his lines at the lights, and led the entirety of the first stint. Webber began to reel the McLaren in as the stops neared, and by ducking in to the pits earlier than Hamilton was able to get the jump on him when he returned to the track.
Hamilton kept pace with Webber throughout the second stint, and with the Red Bull held up behind a Lotus on his out lap following stop number two was able to jump back ahead of the poleman.
That wasn’t enough to give Hamilton the lead: Alonso had made an even better job of his in and out laps and exited the pits ahead of McLaren.
But Hamilton was having none of it, muscling ahead of Alonso through the first section of corners to lead the grand prix again. From there he began to building a lead over the Ferrari, pumping in a number of fastest laps.
The final round of stops saw the McLaren man pit on lap 51 and Alonso on lap 54 whilst Webber would remain on track until lap 57. Hamilton would comfortably clear both, giving him a clear run to his second win of the season. It is the 16th win of the 26-year-old’s career, and should rank as one of the sweetest.
Sebastian Vettel had his first off day since last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, running fourth enduring a spin. By the second stint he’d dropped behind Felipe Massa and would remain there for much of the race. However he received some consolation as the pair pitted on the final lap: Vettel’s team turned him round quicker than the Ferrari boys dealt with Massa, allowing Seb to score P4 with Felipe fifth.
German drivers filled the next three positions, with Adrian Sutil – who enjoyed perhaps his best drive of the season – sixth, ahead of Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. The seven-time champion spun at the same spot as Vettel early in the race but recovered – and didn’t break his front wing – en-route to P8.
Kamui Kobayashi continued the trend of making a mess of qualifying and being rewarded for it in the race, coming from 17th on the grid to finish ninth, with Vitaly Petrov ending a day during which he seemed to have scrapped every driver in the field 10th.
Despite his poor showing Vettel’s championship lead is still healthy, with a 77 point advantage over Webber. Hamilton leapfrogs Alonso in to third, with Jenson Button – who failed to finish again today with hydraulic problems – becoming increasingly distant in fifth.
There’s just one week until the next race, as F1 travels to Hungary. Another non-Vettel win could set the jitters in the German who, despite his points advantage, still has a little work to do if he’s to seal world title number two. As long as the likes of Hamilton and Alonso are on track he’ll not have it easy.