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  • McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, center, leads after the start of the Formula One German Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring circuit, Nuerburg, Germany, Sunday, July 24, 2011. Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany on second and third, right. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
  • Pack of drivers compete onthe track of the Formula One German Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring circuit in Nuerburg, Germany, Sunday, July 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
  • McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, in front, steers his car winning the Formula One German Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring circuit, Nuerburg, Germany, Sunday, July 24, 2011. Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, left, finished second. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
  • McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, in front, steers his car winning the Formula One German Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring circuit, Nuerburg, Germany, Sunday, July 24, 2011. Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia, behind, finished third placed. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
  • McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, front, of Britain cuts a curve ahead of Red Bull driver Mark Webber, center, of Australia and Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, back, during the Formula One German Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring circuit in Nuerburg, Germany, Sunday, July 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
  • NUERBURG, GERMANY - JULY 24: (EDITORS NOTE: This Image was created with a variable planed lens) Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes leads in front of Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull Racing and Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari during the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on July 24, 2011 in Nuerburg, Germany. (Photo by Vladimir Rys Photography/Getty Images)
  • 3rd placed Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia stops at pit lane during the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring, Germany, Sunday, July 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer/Pool)
  • 2nd placed Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain stops with his car in the pit lane during the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring, Germany, Sunday, July 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer/Pool)
  • 3rd placed ed Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia leaves the pit lane during the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring, Germany, Sunday, July 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer/Pool)
  • 2nd placed Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain leaves the pit lane during the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring, Germany, Sunday, July 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer/Pool)
  • NUERBURG, GERMANY - JULY 24: Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari followed by Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing are seen in action during the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on July 24, 2011 in Nuerburg, Germany. (Photo by Vladimir Rys Photography/Getty Images)
  • NUERBURG, GERMANY - JULY 24: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes in action during the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on July 24, 2011 in Nuerburg, Germany. (Photo by Vladimir Rys Photography via Getty Images)
  • NUERBURG, GERMANY - JULY 24: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren drives during the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on July 24, 2011 in Nuerburg, Germany. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
  • NUERBURG, GERMANY - JULY 24: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari gets a lift back to the pits from Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull Racing following the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on July 24, 2011 in Nuerburg, Germany. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
  • NUERBURG, GERMANY - JULY 24: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates in parc ferme after winning the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on July 24, 2011 in Nuerburg, Germany. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • NUERBURG, GERMANY - JULY 24: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates with team mates after winning the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on July 24, 2011 in Nuerburg, Germany. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • NUERBURG, GERMANY - JULY 24: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates in parc ferme after winning the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on July 24, 2011 in Nuerburg, Germany. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, center, celebrates on the podium , after winning the Formula One German Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring circuit, Nuerburg, Germany, Sunday, July 24, 2011. Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain on the left finished second, Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia, right, finished on the third place. (AP Photo/dapd/Ronald Wittek)
  • McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, center,receives the trophy , handed over by the governor of Rhineland-Palatinate, Kurt Beck, after winning the Formula One German Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring circuit, Nuerburg, Germany, Sunday, July 24, 2011. Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain finished second, Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia finished on the third place. (AP Photo/dapd/Ronald Wittek)
The 2011 Formula One World Championship, as it's unfolded so far, has been nothing if not smooth sailing for defending champion Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull Racing team. The young German has started every race so far this year from the front row and gone on to finish on the podium at each, winning six of the nine rounds that unfolded before this weekend.

A lock for a repeat title, then? Not quite, because this weekend's tenth round in Vettel's home country of Germany represents the tipping point. As the midpoint of the nineteen-race season, it can all come together or fall apart for the defending champ from here on in. Follow the jump to see how Vettel and his rivals kicked off the second half of the year.

At no less pivotal a location than the Nürburgring this weekend, Sebastian Vettel was not only beaten to pole position by teammate Mark Webber, but for the first time this season, he was locked out of the front row entirely, as rival Lewis Hamilton qualified second. Vettel was relegated to third, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso beside him in fourth and Felipe Massa in fifth. Mercedes GP's Nico Rosberg started sixth, McLaren's Jenson Button seventh, Force India's Adrian Sutil eighth, Renault's Vitaly Petrov ninth and Mercedes-Benz's' hometown hero, Michael Schumacher, rounded out the top portion of the grid in tenth.




With all eyes on the contentious Red Bull pair, however, Hamilton squeezed by Webber heading into that first tight right-hander to take the lead at the start. Behind them,Vettel fared no better off the line, losing third position to Alonso. Massa, in turn, was passed by Rosberg for fifth. Further back, Button's bad luck turned worse as he dropped from seventh to ninth behind Sutil and Petrov.

Force India's Paul di Resta, well schooled at the track from his DTM championship, collided with veteran Nick Heidfeld as both spun out and dropped to the back of the grid. The incident was blamed on the Renault driver. Meanwhile, Sebastien Buemi charged his Toro Rosso up the back of the field from 24th to 18th, gaining six positions at the start.

As the race got into full swing, Alonso ran wide to let Vettel retake third. The two would later switch on lap 8, but not before Schumacher passed Button as close battles unfolded between Hamilton and Webber up front and Massa and Rosberg a few positions behind them.




The drive-through penalty handed to Heidfeld for the di Resta incident hardly mattered, as the Renault driver's race ended when he tried to pass Buemi on the outside only to be punted off into the gravel.

The direct effects of the DRS spoiler-flap could best be seen on lap 13 as Webber sailed past Hamilton on the front straight, only for Hamilton to retake the lead, as he had off the start, heading into turn 1. The battle allowed Alonso to close in, leaving the top three running less than a second apart.

After the first round of pit stops were over, Massa got by Vettel and then both, along with the Mercedes duo of Rosberg and Schumacher, passed Petrov in a day that hardly shined for the Renault team. Schumacher then spun on lap 24, dropping two positions from ninth to eleventh.



Exiting the pit lane from his second stop, Alonso rejoined just ahead of Hamilton, who promptly overtook the Ferrari in the first set of corners. Jenson Button's disappointing weekend ended with a hydraulics malfunction; he retired n the McLaren garage on lap 36. HRT's Tonio Liuzzi followed five laps later.

Late in the race, the leaders still needed to put on their harder-compound tires to satisfy the regulations. Hamilton pitted on lap 52, Alonso on 54. Webber tried to stay out a few extra laps, finally swapping rubber on lap 57. But as Vettel closed in on Massa, the two drivers, to everyone's astonishment, went in on the last nail-biting lap. A delay in the Ferrari pit box let Vettel slip by to take fourth place, the worst result for the defending champ so far this season.

Atop the podium stood a jubilant Hamilton for the first time since Shanghai. Alonso followed his last win with a solid second-place finish. Webber outshone his favored teammate and took third. Alonso comically ran out of fuel on the cool-down lap, and rode to the podium by hanging onto the side of Webber's RB7. Behind Vettel and Massa, Sutil finished sixth, Rosberg and Schumacher seventh and eighth, Sauber's Kobayashi ninth and Petrov ultimately squeezed out the final point in tenth.




The results leave Vettel still firmly in the lead with 216 points to Webber's 139, Hamilton's 134 and Alonso's 130. Red Bull retains a solid for the constructors' title with 355 points to McLaren's 243 and Ferrari's 192. The circus crosses through Austria and into Hungary for the Magyar Grand Prix next weekend at the Hungaroring. Watch this space to see if Vettel can get his groove back or whether we're looking at the start of a new world order.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      slicecom
      • 3 Years Ago
      Epic drive by Hamilton. Winning in an inferior car.
      Dan
      • 3 Years Ago
      Congrats Hamilton. Great Race. My two favorite teams coming in first and second. Great day for racing IMO.
      rostronic
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great race, things get exciting when Vettel isn't at the front of the pack. Checkout this F1 Driver/Spotters Guide. http://www.yankeef1.com/news/item/7-2011-f1-drivers-guide
      Sandy Lee
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great race, but would've loved to have seen them race in the rain! Poor Jensen, here's hoping your luck changes for the better in Hungary.
      Beans
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why is it that Webber always starts bad?
      kmrk
      • 3 Years Ago
      F1 has become as boring as Nascar
      razrrick13
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think this gp showed the difference between Vettel and Hamilton: Vettel is a driver (a fast one at that, not like Button) and Hamilton is a racer (always focuses on the car in front of him.)
      Autoblog
      • 3 Years Ago
      Finally! Someone is riding on F1 car, I thought I'd never see that again. oh, and Lewis was simply epic today. Viva McLaren!
      FSLIV
      • 3 Years Ago
      This race was EPIC. By far one of the best races of the season mainly because; 1) Vettle didn't win, 2) We had three drivers form three different teams fighting for the lead. INCREDIBLE!!
      Bonziii
      • 3 Years Ago
      I agree with Razrrick, Hamilton is the best race car driver in the world, IMO
      Stephen Hopkinson
      • 3 Years Ago
      "The direct effects of the DRS spoiler-flap could best be seen on lap 13 as Webber sailed past Hamilton on the front straight, only for Hamilton to retake the lead, as he had off the start, heading into turn 1." Except neither of those passes had anything to do with DRS, which was only available on the opposite side of the track.
      nismokid02
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great race. Would of been better if Ferrari could of held off Vettel at the end. Blistering final pit stop for Vettel. I barely saw them change the tires. They need to test the Red Bull pit crew for drugs.