German GP - Sunday - Race Report
Alonso takes controversial Hockenheim win
Ferrari and Fernando Alonso hit back with their second win of the 2010 season in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
Once again, however, a grand prix was shrouded in controversy when rivals accused the team of flagrantly breaching the rule banning team orders by having Felipe Massa move over and let Alonso through as the Ferraris ran 1-2 with just under 20 laps to go.
It was a year to the day since Massa was hit on the head by an errant spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn in Hungary and there Massa was, leading the race and in control. But there is no sentiment in F1 and when his engineer Rob Smedley came on the radio, with the pit stops already done, and said, very deliberately, "Fernando is quicker than you..." it was fairly obviously coded instruction.
Sure enough, shortly afterwards, Massa was deliberately slow picking up the throttle out of the Turn 6 hairpin and Alonso swept by. Alonso, no doubt anticipating the storm to come, looked solemn on the podium and, in truth, both Ferrari men had reason to feel peeved. Massa because, clearly, it was a race he could have won, and Alonso because he had been quicker than Massa all weekend and was probably only behind him because he'd started on the dirty side of the grid and then been ushered towards the pit wall by pole man Sebastian Vettel, allowing Massa to sweep into Turn 1 in front of both of them.
Alonso had previously got close enough to have a go at Massa into Turn 6 but Felipe had hung on and the Spaniard then went onto the radio claiming that the scenario was ridiculous because he was being held up.
Afterwards, Ferrari went through the charade of pretending that it had been Massa who had made the decision to allow Alonso by, despite Smedley coming back on the radio after Massa had done so, and saying, "Good lad. Sorry..."
Alonso said: "At the exit of the hairpin I saw Felipe a bit slow and tried to overtake, you have to take every opportunity. I think the most important thing was not the victory but to feel confident with the car again. At some grands prix we weren't quick enough and had to be conservative but now I think we can be more aggressive. This is only the first step."
Massa could do little else but admit that he'd allowed Alonso by, saying only: "I don't need to say anything about that... The only thing I feel is that we are working for the team and doing a good job for the team."
Post-race the stewards announced that Ferrari had been in breach of the team orders rule and fined the team $100,000 (see separate story) as well as referring the matter to the FIA World Motor Sport Council for further consideration.
Sebastian Vettel, despite his pole position, could not beat the Ferraris on his home turf. He tried to prove a point by setting the race's quickest time on the very last lap, but it was only six hundredths quicker than Alonso had gone.
Vettel's podium did bring him level on points with team mate Mark Webber, however, the Australian unable to do better than sixth in Germany. Webber also started from the dirty side of the grid and was jumped by Lewis Hamilton's McLaren on the opening lap, the McLarens having gone to the grid with a low downforce set-up which, while perhaps not ideal for qualifying, at least gave them a decent chance of pulling off overtaking moves down the long straight into the Turn 6 hairpin, which is where Hamilton did Webber.
Jenson Button also managed to jump Webber by going nine laps further then the Red Bull on the option tyre at the beginning of the race before pitting, and emerging just in front of the Red Bull. Webber was then forced to back off because of an oil consumption problem. "I wasn't in the main battle today but I'll be back," he vowed.
These were the only six cars/drivers to complete the full 67 laps, with Robert Kubica's Renault and the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher completing the point scorers.
The championship battle is getting ever tighter, with Alonso putting his season back on track. Lewis Hamilton now leads with 157 points to team mate Button's 143. Webber and Vettel have 136 points each, while Alonso has 123. Back in May, Webber put himself right in the thick of the action with two wins within a week in Spain and Monaco. Alonso could well do likewise in Germany and in Budapest next weekend. The one cloud on his horizon is, of course, the World Motor Sport Council's examination of events at Hockenheim...