Date:Sunday July 24 2011
The cars lined up on the grid for the final preparations on a cold Nurburgring track with rain in the air making all the teams and drivers nervous.
Red Bull's Mark Webber was of course on pole after his superb lap on Saturday while McLaren's Lewis Hamilton lined up alongside him after surprising everyone with the performance of his McLaren Mercedes.
F1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel lined up alongside Ferrari's Fernando Alonso on the second row of the grid.
When the lights went out both Red Bull's lost a place on the start line with Hamilton taking the lead by the first turn, however a mistake from Fernando Alonso on lap two handed third position back to Vettel.
Over the next six laps Alonso and Vettel battled and on lap eight under breaking into the first turn Alonso re-took the place back from the championship leader.
The German in his home Grand Prix was obviously feeling the pressure as a lap later he put a wheel on the damp astroturf and lost a lot of time as he spun off.
Further down the field Felipe Massa who had a great start but was blocked off by Vettel and got caught on the outside of turn one was stuck behind the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in sixth, while Jenson Button was struggling in tenth behind the Renault of Petrov.
Heidfeld and Buemi collided on lap ten battling for twenty-second spot and just as Heidfeld was handed a drive thru penalty for an incident with di Resta on the opening lap, the Renault slid into the gravel not to return.
Back at the front of the race the action was really heating up with Webber getting past Hamilton on the final series of corners but the sheer pace of the McLaren enabled Hamilton to pull of a gutsy move down the pit straight to regain the lead.
As Hamilton and Webber duelled for the lead Fernando Alonso caught up to the back of Webber's car to join the party.
On lap 15 Webber pitted from second, switching for a new set of softs.
A lap later Massa and Webber overtook Vettel for sixth and the German headed for the pitlane. Just a few hundred yards in front and Hamilton and Alonso exited the pit-lane still in first and second, but as they headed to the first corner Massa and Webber overtook them with all four cars heading for the first corner closer than they were when they initially started the race!
On lap 17 Massa pitted from first handing the lead over to Webber, with Hamilton second and Alonso third.
With the race settling down at the front with Webber, Hamilton and Alonso separated by less than two seconds, Petrov, Massa and Vettel battled for sixth.
The Renault driver tried to hold onto the position, but over the course of lap 22 and 23 not only did Massa and Vettel get past, but so did both Mercedes with Rosberg and Schumacher making it look easy to knock the Russian driver down to ninth.
However a lap later Schumacher made the same mistake that Vettel made earlier in the race and the former seven time F1 World champion lost several positions while getting his car back onto the race track.
On lap 31 Mark Webber pitted from the lead and with a routine stop he easily got back out ahead of Felipe Massa's Ferrari who was fourth.
Just half a second separated Hamilton and Alonso coming to the end of lap 31 and Hamilton dived into the pit-lane handing the lead over to Alonso, but crucially got ahead of Webber going into the opening series of corners on lap 32.
At the start of lap 33 Alonso pitted from the lead and with a quick stop appeared to keep the position ahead of Hamilton, however where Webber couldn't get past Hamilton on the previous lap, Hamilton could hold the outside line of turn two and regained the lead.
Over the next three laps Hamilton set fastest lap after fastest lap to pull out a three second lead over Alonso's Ferrari, with third placed Mark Webber drifting a further three seconds behind Alonso.
However with the leaders again staying on the soft Pirelli compound they would all need to pit one final time before the end of the race.
On lap 36 Jenson Button retired with a hydraulics problem ending a frustrating weekend for the 2009 F1 champion.
Out of sync with the front three Massa and Vettel both pitted and continued to battle for fourth position on lap 43.
With 15 laps remaining thanks to the cold weather in Germany the teams began to analyse when to switch over to the medium compound tyre.
Formula One regulations insist that you use both compounds at least once during a race, but with the data estimates suggesting that the medium tyre would be around 1.5seconds per lap slower than the soft tyres Hamilton was instructed to look after his current set of softs, as they wanted to stay out on track for as long as possible. Ferrari of course relayed that information to second placed Alonso.
BBC commentators Martin Brundle and David Coulthard suggested that if the drivers can make their softs last, then could we see last lap stops for the medium tyre? With the laps ticking down the drama certainly didn't appear to be over.
On lap 52 Lewis Hamilton was the first to blink as he made his final pit-stop and changed to the medium compound tyres, if the Pirelli data was correct this pit-stop could cost the British driver the race victory.
Ferrari's mechanics came out for Alonso's pit-stop a lap later but Alonso drove past the pit-lane and the mechanics headed back to the garage.
A lap later with just seven laps to go Alonso did head for the pits and Webber took the lead of the race.
As Alonso exited the pit-lane after a clean stop Hamilton got past Alonso for second place down the start finish straight.
Webber continued to stay out in the Red Bull and with six laps remaining he was 13 seconds ahead of Hamilton and 15 seconds ahead of Alonso, the Australian continued to push to try and pull out a bigger lead on his soft tyres, but it didn't work and when Webber pitted with four laps to go he fell down to third.
Massa and Vettel continued to battle for fourth position as they had done for the majority of the race, but with Vettel not wanting to risk losing any points in the championship hunt the German continued to struggle to get passed the Brazilian on the track, so it was down to the final pit-stop with a head-to-head showdown between the Ferrari and the Red Bull pit crews on the final lap of the race.
Vettel's pit-stop was 1.8seconds faster than Massa's so the championship leader gained fourth position in the pit-lane.
Hamilton cruised across the line moments later to win the race, Alonso finished second, Webber third.
As the McLaren driver began his celebrations Alonso was forced to pull over out on track and in a move that brought back memories of Mansell and Senna, Alonso jumped onto the side of Mark Webber's car to catch a lift back to the pit lane for the podium celebrations!
Date:Sunday July 24 2011
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