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Lewis Hamilton’s drama as it unfolded in Hockenheim

Fernando Alonso led from start to finish to extend his lead at the top of the drivers championship but there was woe for Lewis Hamilton in Hockenheim. Hamilton collected debris from Felipe Massa’s lap-one incident, resulting in a puncture and an early pit stop, sending him down to 22nd on the occasion of his 100th grand prix.

It was at the end of lap 57 that Hamilton’s race was run, his second non-scoring finish in the last three races to drop him further back off the championship pace.

Sebastian Vettel finished second with Jenson Button in third.

The Spaniard became the only man to win three times so far this season.

He drove a controlled race and stayed just far enough ahead of his pursuers to maintain the lead.

“Great strategy calls from the team to keep me ahead through the pit stops. I knew it would be a long race to the end”

Fernando Alonso

Button climbed up from sixth on the grid to pass Vettel at the second pit stops but was re-passed with two laps to go.

Lewis Hamilton retired after running well down the field following an early puncture.

The result extends Alonso’s championship lead to 34 points ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber who had a low-key race to eighth place, never showing any real pace.

Alonso said: “It was tough, not an easy race. Maybe we were not the quickest in dry conditions but we were competitive and it was enough to maintain the lead.

“Great strategy calls from the team to keep me ahead through the pit stops. I knew it would be a long race to the end, with Jenson putting pressure.

“But the car was feeling good on top speed and traction and that was enough to keep the lead into Turn 6, and after that overtaking is not so easy.”

Vettel is third overall a further two points adrift, while fourth place in the race for Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen moves the Finn ahead of Hamilton, who is now 62 points adrift of Alonso.

The only consolation for Hamilton on the occasion of his 100th grand prix was that the McLaren showed encouraging pace following a major performance upgrade.

At one stage, Hamilton unlapped himself on Vettel – although not Alonso – as he attempted vainly to recover from his early set-back.

Alonso was never very far in front but was always able to stay just far enough ahead of first Vettel and then Button to ensure they could not use their DRS overtaking aids to pass him into the hairpin at Turn 6.

It led to a tense grand prix in which the identity of the winner was always in doubt until Alonso took the chequered flag.

The Ferrari made a lightening start from pole position and although Vettel quickly closed up the initial gap Alonso had built on the first lap, the Spaniard was able to pull clear before their first pit stops to ensure he held the lead into the second stint.

Meanwhile, Button was fighting past Hulkenberg and then Schumacher, to move quietly into third place.

Vettel emerged from his first pit stop five seconds ahead of Button but the McLaren closed remorselessly on the Red Bull and passed the German by making his second stop a lap earlier.

Vettel emerged from the pits to find Button on his outside on the run to Turn 2, and the McLaren easily took the position.

Button was rarely more than a second behind Alonso from then until the end of the race but the Ferrari driver was always in control and in the closing laps he stretched away as Button began to lose grip in his rear tyres.

Rather than try to take the lead, Button had to spend the closing laps fighting off a late challenge from Vettel, who passed him at the Turn 6 hairpin on the penultimate lap.

However, Vettel is under investigation by the stewards after Button complained that Vettel had passed him by going off the track, so it is possible the German will face a penalty.

Raikkonen provided some exciting racing as he moved up from 10th on the grid.

On the way, Raikkonen engaged in top-class racing with Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher and the Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta.

Schumacher finished seventh behind Sauber drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez. Hulkenberg and Di Resta took the final points positions in ninth and 10th.



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