• Spain's Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, right, leads the field right after the start of the German F1 Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
  • HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 22: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari leads into the first corner at the start of the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 22, 2012 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Spain's Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, left, leads Germany's Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, center, and Germany's Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher, right, right after the start of the German F1 Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
  • Second placed Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany stops with his car in the pit lane at the German Formula One Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer/Pool)
  • McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button of Great Britain is surrounded by technicians as he stops with his car in the pit lane at the German Formula One Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer, Pool)
  • HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 22: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari leads from Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren on his way to winning the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 22, 2012 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
  • Spain's Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso leads ahead of Germany's Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel during the German F1 Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
  • HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 22: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari drives on his way to winning the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 22, 2012 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
  • HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 22: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari drives on his way to winning the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 22, 2012 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
  • Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the German Formula One Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
  • HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 22: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari crosses the line to win the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 22, 2012 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
  • Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso from Spain is flanked by second placed Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, left, and third placed McLaren driver Jenson Button after the Formula One Grand Prix of Germany at the Hockenheim race circuit in Hockenheim, southern Germany, Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/dapd, Sascha Schuermann)
  • Spain's Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, center, is sprayed with champagne by second placed German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, left, and third placed British McLaren driver Jenson Button after winning the German F1 Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Seven races with seven winners. That's how the 2012 Formula One World Championship started out. But eventually something had to give. And give it did, when Fernando Alonso edged out the competition to score his second grand prix victory this season. Mark Webber followed with a second win of his own the following race. But would this race at Hockenheim prove one driver as the clear frontrunner in this year's championship? Would it catapult one of the others into the running? Or would it elevate a new grand prix winner this season? Keep reading to find out.


Saturday's qualifying session already gave us a glimpse at the answer when Alonso landed his Ferrari on pole for the second race in a row. Alongside him lined up one Sebastian Vettel, adamantly trying (in relative futility) to defend his world titles. Michael Schumacher showed he still has some fight in him by qualifying in third position again, with Nico Hulkenberg landing his Force India in fourth, making a heavily German front-of-grid for the home crowd at Hockenheim. Williams' Pastor Maldonado took fifth ahead of the McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. Mark Webber had qualified third but was relegated to eighth due to an unscheduled gearbox change, with Paul di Resta and Kimi Raikkonen landing in ninth and tenth positions.

A technical investigation was launched prior to the start of the race into the engine mapping on the Red Bull cars, but the defending champions were acquitted and faced no punitive measures as the engine management systems were deemed technically legal.

The leaders moved smoothly off the line at the race start with little drama, but further behind some minor collisions relieved Massa and Grosjean of their front wings, forcing both into the pits for fresh nosecones. Senna pitted as well, as did Hamilton due to a punctured rear-left tire. The issue would dog the McLaren driver for the remainder of the race.




In an otherwise rather uneventful opening to the race, Perez took ninth place from di Resta, while further up front Button had worked his way up the field to take third place.

In the first round of pit stops, Schumacher re-emerged in eighth place behind Hulkenberg, only to pass him in a gutsy move around the outside of the corner, enabling Raikkonen to pass as well.

Following the first round of pit stops, Alonso retained his lead ahead of a defiant Vettel. Having started the race in sixth, Button admirably held on to third place ahead of Raikkonen in fourth. Hamilton picked his way through the front-runners, but in an odd turn of events, he was a full lap behind, thanks to that earlier puncture.



The second round of pit stops saw Alonso, Vettel and Button re-emerge in the same positions until Jenson overtook Sebastian for second place. In the ensuing pursuit, Vettel ran wide several times, but finally managed to regain his position from the McLaren on the penultimate lap.

Button's wingman Hamilton, however, fared even worse, finally retiring from sixteenth place (for which he would have scored no points anyway) before the finish line.



And that was it: Alonso took his third race win this season to elevate himself as the clear frontrunner, now holding 154 points to Webber's 120 and Vettel's 110. Vettel in turn took second place, followed by Button in third. Raikkonen, Kobayashi, Perez, Schumacher, Webber, Hulkenberg and Rosberg divided up the remaining points. Join us again next week for the results from the Hungarian Grand Prix before the summer break leaves us without F1 racing until September.

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