German GP – Alonso the crowd-pleaser

German GP – Alonso the crowd-pleaser

Hockenheim, 20 July – The rain that might have helped the Scuderia Ferrari drivers exceed the current performance level of their car, cruelly arrived shortly after the end of the German Grand Prix, in which Fernando Alonso finished in fifth place, while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen brought his F14 T home just outside the points in eleventh. Not an exhilarating result, but Fernando yet again was a key player in making this an absolutely thrilling race. Two weeks ago he went wheel to wheel with Sebastian Vettel in the British GP and here, after a brief re-match, which the German won, it was the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo who duelled with the Ferrari man for several laps, thrilling the crowd in the grandstands and the viewers at home. Alonso finally made a passing move stick with a handful of laps to go. Kimi had a less pleasant day, even though he pulled off some aggressive overtaking moves. But he struggled after the opening stint, partly due to front wing damage.

There were other similarities with the last round at Silverstone: a Mercedes won of course, Nico Rosberg this time and the Safety Car was also required immediately after Felipe Massa’s car was rolled over at the first corner. Consolation for his Williams team came from Valtteri Bottas who came second, fending off Lewis Hamilton, who fought his way from the back of the grid to complete the podium trio in the other Mercedes.

At the start, the track temperature was over 20 degrees cooler than Saturday. The Safety Car was immediately deployed for just a couple of laps, after Massa and Magnussen tangled after the start, the Williams tipping over in the run-off at Turn 1. By that point, Fernando had moved up three places from seven to fourth and Kimi had gone from twelfth to ninth. Rosberg led from pole, with Bottas second while Vettel had jumped from six to third. Between Fernando and Kimi were Hulkenberg, Button, Kvyat, and Perez.

Kimi was powerless to stop Ricciardo getting by on lap 11 and then fought wheel to wheel with Hamilton to keep ahead of the Mercedes.
Lap 12 and Fernando was the first of the front runners to pit, taking on a new set of the Soft Pirellis. Lap 12 and Hamilton passed first Kimi and then Ricciardo all in the same move with a small part of the F14 T flying in the air.

Around lap 15, there was an incredible battle for fourth with both Ferraris going to wheel to wheel, Kimi, yet to pit, having started on the harder compound, caught in the middle between Fernando and Vettel, all three cars bouncing off one another. This meant more damage to Kimi’s front wing and as a consequence it would affect his tyre performance from then on. The Spaniard came out ahead of the Finn but behind the German.

Lap 25 and Kimi passed Vergne to go into the points in tenth and not longer after he made that ninth with an aggressive passing move on Magnussen. Kimi moved to eighth on lap 31 when Button pitted. At his second stop, Fernando came in early in an attempt to jump Vettel and later in the race, Vettel would try the same tactic, which inevitably worked, as he came
out of pit lane just ahead of the Spanish Ferrari driver, but the German’s tyres were still not up to temperature and, with a puff of wheel smoke, Fernando got ahead of the Red Bull on the curved back section. Kimi came in slightly earlier than planned for more Softs, unhappy with his last set.

With 11 laps to go, Fernando came in for another set of Supersofts to run to the flag, rejoining seventh, while Kimi was down in twelfth. The Spaniard was up to sixth, passing Button and he set off in pursuit of Ricciardo, whom he caught on lap 60 with the two men putting on a great show, with wheel to wheel action for several laps. Eventually, Fernando got the upper hand five laps from the flag.

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