Fernando Alonso Wins a Very Controversial German GP

Patrick AllenAnalyst IJuly 25, 2010

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 25:  Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari leads from team mate Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari after overtaking him during the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 25, 2010 in Hockenheim, Germany.  (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images)
Andrew Hone/Getty Images

I have absolutely no idea how to report this Grand Prix. I think I should probably start by saying it was unquestionably dull, but my problem comes from that incident on lap 48.

As an Alonso fan, I was pleased to see the faster Ferrari driver take the lead. I think the circumstances were very different from Austria 2002 (Schumacher’s infamous overtake of Barrichello), but, I can very clearly see why Massa and his fans will be outraged by the blatant team orders.

I will return to this issue later, but for now, here is how we got to lap 48.

The start was certainly interesting and would prove to be crucial for the rest of the race. Yet again Vettel forced the driver in P2 right into the barriers in what I would call a very un-sporting manor.

Thankfully this stupid tactic didn’t come off as Massa simply swept up and into P1, whilst Alonso was able to force his way back and hold his P2. This meant an overly aggressive Vettel found himself deservedly in P3.

Here were the positions after the first lap:

Massa, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton, Webber, Button, Kubica, Schumacher, Rosberg, Kobayashi, Barrichello, Petrov, Hulkenberg, Rosberg, Trulli, Kovalainen, di Grassi, Senna, Sutil, Yamamoto, Glock, Alguersuari, Liuzzi.

In all the first lap madness both Torro Rossos and Force Indias were forced to pit with various car troubles. Buemi’s issues were so bad that he retired and the Force India mechanics were so flustered that they fitted the wrong tyres to the wrong cars!

The fact that Liuzi was wearing Sutil’s tyres (and vice-versa) meant that the team were breaching a very serious rule and both cars were forced in for a second stop in 6 laps.

Vettel pitted in lap 13 and rejoined in clear air, now P6. Ferrari and Red Bull reacted to this and brought in super fast Alonso and Webber one lap later. The Spaniard rejoined in P4, the Australian, P8.

On the next lap Massa and Hamilton pitted giving Button the lead but changing little else as far as overall positions were concerned.

OK, so it was after these stops that Massa’s troubles began. The Brazilian had been fast before the stops, but Alosno had been keeping up. On the hard tyre Massa was really struggling and Alonso was clearly being held up.

Meanwhile at the front Button was driving excellently to give himself a good chance of a positive post-pit position.

There was a race crucial moment on lap 21 when Alonso really should have passed Massa after lapping some traffic. The Spaniard played the wrong cards and found himself still behind a slow team mate and dropping into the clutches of Vettel.

Button pitted on lap 23 and did a good job to come back out in P5, but he only helped illustrate how pointless the current rules are. After all the main drivers had stopped the positions were a very similar:

Massa, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton, Button, Webber, Rosberg, Petrov, Hulkenberg, de la Rossa, Kubica, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Barrichello, Alguersuari, Kovalainen, di Grassi, Glock, Liuzzi, Senna (Yamamoto seemed to have retired completely under the radar!).

By lap 29 the Formula One 2010 season demonstrated the pointlessness of the new rules. Basically all of the drivers were told to save fuel, and this killed the action for many laps to follow. This is ridiculous! A lack of re-fuelling has taken away the action as no one fills their car to the finish and the pit stops change has done nothing!

Literally nothing happened for about 10 slow laps until…the moment.

Alonso had been taking loads of time off of Massa and the situation was beginning to get absurd. On lap 48, Massa’s clearly upset engineer radioed his driver and stated, "Fernado is faster….please confirm you understand this message."

One lap later, Massa slowed pointedly and his teammate ran through into the lead. This action was met with an apology from Massa’s engineer.

Now, the press are going to have a field day with this, and I want to stress that I know I am biased, but I agree with Martin Brundell that this was a needed strategy and different to the Austria 2002 affair.

In 2002, Schumacher had practically won the championship and was not clearly faster than Barrichello. The forced overtake was cynical, unnecessary, and cruel.

Today was the first time we had really seen Massa driving his socks off, but it certainly wasn’t the first time we had seen a faster Alonso being held up by his teammate. There was a 31-point gap between the two drivers and frankly Alosno is the only sensible choice for Ferrari in a championship battle.

I would argue that you just never know which Massa is going to turn up at a race weekend and Ferrari simply don’t have the luxury to wait and see. The whole event was made worse by the fact that Massa is such a nice guy and similarly by the fact that Alonso is not as popular as I think he should be.

Fernando didn’t try any silly business on the podium and his first question to the team after the race was "how is Felipe?" I can see the press going mad with this one, but I think it was the right thing to do.

To be perfectly honest, that was it really. Kovalainen retired on lap 62 and the race finished with an anti-climax. Yet another poor showing for F1 at the halfway point of one of the dullest seasons for a while.

Yes, you can go on about the different race winners and the closeness of the championship, but F1 isn’t a statistics sport, it’s a bloody race! Commentators can try as hard as they like to big 2010 up, but in my opinion this has been anything but a classic so far. Next we’ve got a famously dull track and then a three week break. All I can say is bring on Belgium!


Drivers’ Championship Top Three

Hamilton 157
Button 143
Webber/Vettel 136

Constructors’ Top Three

McLaren 300
Red Bull 272
Ferrari 208

1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari

2 Felipe Massa Ferrari

3 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault

4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes

5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes

6 Mark Webber RBR-Renault

7 Robert Kubica Renault

8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP

9 Michael Schumacher Mercedes

10 Vitaly Petrov Renault

11 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari

12 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth

13 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth

14 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari

15 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari

16 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes

17 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes

18 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth

19 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth

Ret Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth

Ret Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth

Ret Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth

Ret Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth

Ret Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.