Fernando Alonso second, Mark Webber third at Nürburgring
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton produced a monumental drive to take his second win of the season in the German Grand Prix after an enthralling battle with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who finished second, and Mark Webber, who came third.
Red Bull’s title-holder and runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel struggled in his home race to come in fourth, ending a run of 11 successive podium finishes.
Webber, who finally led a lap for the first time this year, had watched his team-mate Vettel win six of nine races this season, but both Red Bulls were this time outshone by Britain’s 2008 champion Hamilton.
“When you do finally hit the sweet spot, it couldn’t feel any better,” said Hamilton. “We never expected to come here and be so fast and competitive, but that was one of the best races I’ve ever done.
“Bit by bit I’m learning more about how the car is behaving, and it was really fantastic for me to able to make steps forward, and this is a massive one, so I really hope we can keep the momentum going.”
It was another epic encounter, one that ultimately turned in the second round of pit stops, and one that for the first time this season did not include Vettel.
Off the front row for the first time in 15 races, from third on the grid the reigning champion immediately lost a place to Alonso into the first corner.
Although soon regained at the start of lap two courtesy of Alonso running slightly wide at turn two, it was lost again on lap eight as the Spaniard squeezed down the inside of the German on the run down to turn one.
Two laps later Vettel made a hugely uncharacteristic mistake, putting his right-side tyres marginally on to the artificial turf on the approach to turn 10. It was enough to send him into a spin on to the vast run-off area at that section of the circuit, losing seven seconds all told, but not a place as he held on to third.
However, from that moment Vettel was never in the running, dropping further and further off the pace, and even losing fourth in the initial round of pit stops to Massa.
Ahead of him a three-way battle for the lead unfolded, and a captivating one at that, between Hamilton, Webber and Alonso.
At the start, and from his first front-row grid slot since the second race of the year in Malaysia, Hamilton snaffled the lead ahead of Webber. It was not until the end of lap 12 that he was first threatened as a small mistake allowed Webber through on the inside around the final corner.
But following in Webber’s slipstream, Hamilton brilliantly cut down the Australian on the inside of the pit straight, the pit wall inches away to his right, to regain the lead into turn one.
As the first stops unfolded a few laps later, strategy allowed Webber to leapfrog Hamilton, with Alonso hot on his heels. At that point, though, it was Massa who had edged ahead as the quartet converged at turn one at the start of lap 17, although he had yet to pit.
The Brazilian at least held up Webber for a lap, but once he came in for new tyres, the 34-year-old held sway up until the halfway point of the 60-lap race.
Red Bull brought Webber in first, only for Hamilton to leapfrog him as he emerged from his second stop on the following lap, the Briton just doing enough to keep his nose in front as he came under attack.
That minor duel slowed them enough for Alonso to take advantage as he passed both with the undercut from his second stop. But Hamilton, on warmer tyres, pulled off another breathtaking move around the outside of turn two to reclaim the lead through to lap 50.
At the final stop there was the danger he could again be leapfrogged by Alonso and Webber behind, but it never materialised. Instead, he is now the only man other than Vettel to have won two races this season, but he needs so much more if he is to have any hope of overhauling Vettel.