German Grand Prix 2012

/ Commentary

Race

13:00 The lights come on...

12:59 We could be in for an interesting turn one - it's a high speed right hander. The cars are forming on the grid

12:59 Lots of new sets of tyres that the drivers can use due to the wet qualifying yesterday. We're away on the formation lap.

12:58 For what it's worth, I'm going to gamble with a race prediction and say that if Alonso doesn't win (I tipped him in the podcast) then Button will...

12:58 We've got the tyre compounds - everyone is on soft tyres except Vergne, Pic, Rosberg and Glock

12:57 B.K.Tan emails in to say he thinks Vettel must win this race, and hopes Alonso doesn't finish to help him close the championship gap

12:56 Tom from Foster City says: "It's too bad that the rain soaked qualifying session had to determine starting positions. In the previous drier practice sessions Hamilton and Button looked strong."

12:55 Rahul emails in to say: "A bright and sunny race day. A repeat of silverstone though I'd like to see Fernando go a step further than his silverstone result"

12:54 Mehul asks about tyre strategies - until we see the cars on the formation lap we won't know

12:52 Interesting radio message to Raikkonen's crew telling them to make sure they don't reveal which type of tyre he's on. Drivers get a choice of tyre regardless of where they start because Q2 and Q3 was wet

12:49 A weather update for you too: There's a bit of white cloud around which is hiding the sun a bit but it's very much dry.

12:46 Don't forget, before this morning's bit of excitement we had another great qualifying session which saw championship leader Fernando Alonso take pole in the wet. He's a bit good, isn't he?

12:43 Now, after explaining that, let's look forward to today's race shall we? If you want to get in touch with us with your opinions, questions and predictions then you can do so either by emailing us using the link above or tweeting us @ESPNF1

12:39 So that's where we're at now. Ross Brawn has just told Sky Sports that he's "sure that won't be the end of it". Obviously all of the other teams are going to be looking in to what Red Bull is doing and whether they understand it to be legal or not

12:35 So Red Bull is free to race without penalty, it's car is legal according to the wording of the regulations but we can expect the FIA to tighten up that wording - perhaps after Hungary - to prevent such an issue in future. Derek Warwick has just been shown talking to Christian Horner telling him his team was "stretching the envelope ... which of course you're supposed to do".

12:33 Eventually, three hours later, the stewards said they did not agree with all of Red Bull's or Renault's arguments, but based on the current wording of the regulations no rule had been broken and as a result the FIA stewards took no action

12:31 At 09:55 local time, and FIA communication from technical delegate Jo Bauer said that he believed the Red Bull to be using an illegal torque map, effectively leading to an off-throttle blown diffuser again. He referred the matter to the stewards and we had a long wait to see what the outcome would be

12:30 Hello and welcome to ESPNF1's live coverage of the German Grand Prix. It's been a dramatic morning at Hockenheim, let me fill you in...

Lap 1

Good start at the front - bad one for Hamilton and he drops back to ninth. Button up ahead of Maldonado in to fifth place and Vettel has to defend from Schumacher in to the hairpin and turn eight.

Massa has lost his front wing and is in the pits. The whole field has just run through lots of carbon fibre at turn one - Alonso got the worst of it. Grosjean and Senna pit too

Lap 2

Senna and Grosjean with long stops with some sort of damage. Both back out on track though.

Vettel quicker than Alonso on that last lap and closes to within 0.9s.

Hamilton with a right rear puncture - must be from the debris at turn one. He's limping to the pits at the back of the field

Lap 3

Vettel closes to within 0.6s and is in the DRS zone. Schumacher already three seconds off the lead. Button being held up by Hulkenberg

Lap 4

Hamilton radios in to say "that's it guys, we should retire". McLaren don't agree though and Hamilton is back out on medium tyres.

Raikkonen close behind di Resta for eighth place.

Lap 5

Alonso responds at the front and holds off Vettel. A good first sector keeps him away from DRS range too. Schumacher can't match the pace at the front.

Perez dives down the inside of Ricciardo in to turn six and Kobayashi passes the pair of them on the exit. Raikkonen then passes di Resta with a great scrap through turns eight, nine and ten

Lap 6

Replays of the start show Massa running in to the back of a Toro Rosso and losing his front wing.

Alonso leads by 0.8s now, Schumacher starting to get closer to the pace at the front but he's now 4.6s off the lead

Lap 7

Alonso is calm and radios in to say "don't worry" after a Ferrari message.

Perez now ahead of Kobayashi after using DRS to pass his team-mate. Kobayashi on medium tyres too

Lap 8

The gap at the front is 0.9s. Hamilton radios in to say "the car doesn't feel stable at the left rear" but his pace is as good as the leaders.

Button dives up the inside of Hulkenberg in to the hairpin and he's up to fourth. The McLaren looks quick in the dry.

Lap 9

Button just 1.2s behind Schumacher, and is marginally quicker than Alonso and Vettel.

Di Resta defends from Perez but DRS is effective and Perez is through to ninth place before the hairpin.

Hamilton does the fastest lap down in 22nd - over a minute off the lead and 26 seconds behind Massa

Lap 10

Good pace at the front and the top four are covered by 6.8s. Button within a second of Schumacher now while Alonso's lead is 1.1s as he keeps Vettel out of the DRS zone.

Hulkenberg has Maldonado, Webber and Raikkonen close behind him

Lap 11

Schumacher only 0.4s ahead of Button now, who uses DRS and then dives up the inside for third place. Button now off after Vettel.

Di Resta pits from 11th for a set of medium tyres.

Lap 12

Alonso and Vettel 1.3s apart and 0.1s quicker than Button last time round.

Raikkonen pits for a new set of softs having been stuck behind Hulkenberg, Maldonado and Webber. Maldonado runs over some debris on the run towards the hairpin

Lap 13

Alonso set the fastest lap last time round and pulled the gap out to 1.4s.

Hulkenberg and Webber pit to react to Raikkonen but it's too late for Webber - Raikkonen is through despite being stuck behind a Caterham.

Schumacher already two seconds behind Button, Rosberg has just pit. Maldonado pits and when he rejoins Webber was running wide at turn one.

Lap 14

Another fastest lap for Alonso. Gap is 1.7s at the front and Button takes 0.2s out of Vettel.

Webber attacks Maldonado but Petrov is in there too and DRS means Maldonado gets through but Webber doesn't. The scrap is for 10th place..

Schumacher pits as Hulkenberg does the fastest lap and passes the Mercedes before turn two

Lap 15

Schumacher uses DRS but can't get past Hulkenberg. Schumacher dives through in to turn eight and Raikkonen follows him through on the exit.

Button and Perez a touch quicker than the leaders right now. The top six down to Ricciardo yet to pit.

Lap 16

Soft tyres are the one to be on, and Schumacher and Raikkonen are both on them. Hulkenberg, Maldonado, Webber and di Resta on mediums

Button now 5.4s behind Vettel. It's a tenth of a second difference at a time.

Lap 17

It's going to come down to tyre performance before the first stops at the front. Alonso, Vettel and Button covered by 7.8s but yet to stop. Perez pits from fourth but Kobayashi still going in fifth place on medium tyres.

Alonso runs a touch wide in turn 12 but he's fine to continue - a sign of his tyres going off perhaps?

Lap 18

Alonso pits but Vettel stays out. Button stays out too and is quicker than both of them. Medium tyres for Alonso... he rejoins in third place

Lap 19

Webber is struggling on the medium tyres right now. He can't get close to the back of Perez. Perez uses DRS and cruises past Maldonado for ninth place.

Vettel stays out despite a slower lap. Button pits for a set of medium tyres and comes out in fourth behind Kobayashi. No reaction from Red Bull yet...

Lap 20

Perez set the fastest lap last time round. He's on medium tyres too and flying on them. Maldonado runs a touch wide at the hairpin and Webber dives through for tenth place.

Vettel pits. Where will he rejoin? His pace was dropping off a touch...

Lap 21

Vettel rejoins behind Kobayashi but can use DRS and manages to retake the position before the hairpin.

Raikkonen passes Schumacher at the hairpin and is up to fifth place - about 13 seconds off the lead.

Lap 22

Button is 6.7s off the lead now and is told on the radio "we are racing to win this race". Kobayashi is slow in front of him now though. Raikkonen 12.9s off the lead and quicker than Alonso at the front.

Perez is chasing Hulkenberg for seventh place - the Sauber looking strong

Lap 23

Kobayashi pits so Button is released and is just 6.3s off the lead. The gap between Alonso and Vettel is 2.6s. Raikkonen half a second quicker than Alonso - the Ferrari not so good on the medium tyres it seems.

Further back Massa has got up to 15th and Hamilton is 18th now - 57.2s off the lead

Lap 24

Alonso is struggling. Vettel take another half second out of him and closes to within 2.1s. Button even quicker than the pair and 5.6s off the lead. Kimi 11.8s back.

Hamilton is told that he could be able to make a one-stop work from here - I assume McLaren means one more stop

Lap 25

Alonso improves but Vettel still brings the gap down to 1.8s. Button 3.5s further back.

Massa pits from 15th place, while Kobayashi passes di Resta for ninth place using DRS, both on medium tyres

Lap 26

Vettel now 1.6s behind Alonso - the leaders are lapping cars though and Button loses 0.2s to Alonso.

Perez uses DRS but still can't get past Hulkenberg in the battle for sixth place. Webber is 1.7s behind the pair of them

Lap 27

Vettel's got the gap down to 1.3s. Button with the fastest first sector and he's 5.4 off the lead. Raikkonen can't match the pace as he laps cars and he's 12.8s off the lead.

Lap 28

Vettel now a second behind but not quite in DRS range. Button with the fastest lap - half a second quicker than Alonso.

Ram Kumar emails in: "As a person from India, it is good to see Force India team doing good & Narain fighting. I am a big fan of Schumi & please tell me how are his chances on this race?"

Schumacher is running fifth and is 17s off the lead. Realistically fifth looks like his best opportunity

Lap 29

Button keeps closing slowly on Vettel, who keeps closing slowly on Alonso. DRS activated but Vettel is too far back. That helps him close even more though and he's all over the back of the Ferrari. Battle has commenced and Button is told he will catch them as they scrap.

Perez is finally past Hulkenberg for sixth in to the hairpin but then loses the place on exit.

Lap 30

Alonso yet to get too defensive against Vettel, while Button is just 4.3s off the lead. Raikkonen still dropping back though and he's now 13.9s back

Lap 31

Button makes that gap four seconds as his team-mate Hamilton runs wide at turn one. Alonso uses DRS when lapping Pic and gets a bit of a gap.

Perez is now through on Hulkenberg, and Webber has done the same move - both using DRS in to the hairpin. Hulkenberg pits for a second time and pits on soft tyres.

Lap 32

Button's charge was halted slightly as Alonso has got out of DRS range for Vettel. He's back on it now though and does the fastest lap to close within 3.8s of Alonso.

Kobayashi passes Webber for seventh place. Webber very slow on that lap.

Hamilton pits for a second time and is in amongst the leaders as he gets lapped.

Lap 33

Hamilton is actually quicker than the leaders and staying behind Vettel, but getting past could be a struggle as he's a lap down. Button now 3.6s behind Alonso.

Lap 34

Hamilton is warned not to hold up Button at all, but Button is struggling to catch his team-mate because Hamilton's quicker than the two leaders.

Hamilton uses DRS and dives up the inside of Vettel in to turn six. Vettel waves his fist at Hamilton but Hamilton is already a second clear of him. Button is now just 1.5s behind Vettel.

Lap 35

Hamilton closing in on Alonso. 3.3s cover the top three but Hamilton is in amongst them too (but a lap down to be clear). It appears that Vettel has a KERS issue too - "we can't use high energy" is the radio message

Lap 36

Schumacher pits for a set of medium tyres. Button dropping off a touch with a slow lap and 4.4s behind the front two. Hulkenberg passes Maldonado using DRS for 10th place having pitted a second time

Lap 37

Alonso has Hamilton right behind him and within the DRS range. Button responds and is quicker than the cars in front. Raikkonen has dropped out of the picture now, he's 18 seconds off the lead.

Lap 38

Hamilton tries to get past Alonso in to turn eight but thinks better of it. Raikkonen pits form fourth place

Lap 39

Hamilton has another look in to eight but doesn't try. Vettel starting to ease back towards the pair of them now. Alonso gets a radio message in Italian, so I can't tell you what it said!

Lap 40

Button is 4.1s behind Alonso now and 1.9s behind Vettel. The second stops are starting to become crucial now. Raikkonen with the fastest first sector on fresh tyres. Button pits to try and get the undercut; medium tyres for him.

Lap 41

Seemed like a really quick stop for Button. Perez and Webber pit as Raikkonen does the fastest lap. Medium tyres for Webber and Perez - should see them through to the end of the race.

Ferrari reacting and Alonso comes in. Vettel in too - Button's stop has triggered this. And Button's nailed the lap and is ahead of Vettel!

Lap 42

Great lap from Button, and he defends from Vettel in to the hairpin as DRS allows Vettel to attack. Button holds position and now is 1.6s behind Alonso

Lap 43

Vettel was within DRS distance but then ran wide at turn one so can't use it on Button. Raikkonen is now 16.5s off the lead and matching the leaders pace.

Lap 44

Button closes the gap at the front to 1.2s to Alonso. Button gets DRS as he laps a Marussia too on this lap.

Kobayashi pits and loses out to Hulkenberg on exit. He's on soft tyres now and uses DRS to attack but can't get through

Lap 45

Button now within DRS range - he's 0.8s behind Alonso. Kobayashi still attacking Hulkenberg for sixth and ahead of Perez after his second stop. Kobayashi passes in to the hairpin.

The leaders lapping some backmarkers, Vettel is 2.5s off the lead

Lap 46

Button is 0.6s behind Alonso now. A lock-up a few laps ago gave Button a flat spot but he's not seeming affected by it.

Hulkenberg pits for a third time. He's struggled out there and that will hurt his chances of points. Hamilton is up to 15th but not in with a chance of points.

Lap 47

Button continues to hustle Alonso. He needs a clear use of DRS though to close even more. Vettel is now three seconds off the lead after stuggling to lap de la Rosa. Raikkonen catching the leaders at about half a second a lap

Lap 48

Button gets that DRS usage and gets close to Alonso but doesn't really attack. Another message in Italian goes to the Ferrari.

Hamilton and Massa both pit.

Lap 49

Vettel seems to be watching this from a distance for a while - looking after his tyres as he does. 18 laps to go on this final set of tyres.

Kobayashi in sixth is catching Schumacher haed of him - the gap is 4.7s as he does the fastest lap of the race

Lap 50

Button doesn't seem to have the raw pace now to attack Alonso. After what I said about Vettel, he then runs wide at both turns 10 and 12. Raikkonen matching pace and he's dropped Schumacher by 7.2s. Kobayashi takes another half a second out of the Mercedes ahead of him

Lap 51

Rosberg pits from eighth place so drops out of the points. That puts Webber up to eighth, Hulkenberg ninth and di Resta tenth.

Alonso has broken the DRS gap now. The top three all do times within 0.2s of each other.

Lap 52

Mehul asks: "Have the leading pack stopped for the 2nd time?" Yes, everyone has made at least two stops and we don't expect the leaders to stop again with 15 laps to go.

Kobayashi just 3.7s behind Schumacher now - he will need to make his soft tyres last though

Lap 53

Schumacher has to pit for a third time - he's put on a set of softs. That's dropped him down to seventh place.

Vettel is struggling here - he runs wide at the last corner and at turn one. He's dropped 3.6s off the lead.

Lap 54

Button back in DRS range. He's notoriously good with his tyres - he'll be hoping to look after his better than Alonso and attack a bit later on.

Kobayashi now fifth and Perez sixth after Schumacher's stop. Kobayashi is 9.4s behind Raikkonen and only closing at about 0.3s per lap

Lap 55

Another radio message from Alonso in Italian. Attempting to keep McLaren in the dark perhaps?

Massa passes Maldonado for 13th place - if others ahead have to pit again then he will come in to the picture for points.

Lap 56

Schumacher with the fastest lap and he closes to 6.3s behind Perez. He should catch him too. Kobayashi now 8.5s behind Raikkonen who is 12.1s behind Vettel.

Lap 57

Button is the closest he has been for a while - 0.6s behind Alonso. Is this the start of an attack with 10 laps to go? Button is told that there's a lot of traffic ahead and Alonso will get the use of DRS. The leaders are a second slower than some drivers behind, so the two stop could be tough...almost like Canada a few races ago.

Lap 58

Hamilton pits and retires from the race from 16th place.

Button and Alonso now 1.3s slower than Schumacher down in seventh place. Those trying to decipher Alonso's Italian - some seem to think that he has an oil issue but it's tough to know.

Lap 59

In the case of Canada, Hamilton stuck to a three-stopper and came through to win, while Alonso and Vettel dramatically ran out of tyres and Grosjean took second ahead of Perez. We're at the stage now where the leaders have committed to a two stop and have to hope it works.

Lap 60

Vettel's picked up the pace and is 2.6s off the lead. Button has dropped 1.2s behind Alonso so the gap to Vettel is 1.4s.

Kobayashi is 7.6s behind Raikkonen and not catching quickly enough.

Lap 61

Vettel is really quick in the middle sector now and the gaps between Alonso and Button and then Button and Vettel are 1.3s.

Rosberg has made three stops, is up to tenth and is catching Hulkenberg and Webber ahead at half a second per lap. Webber is seven seconds ahead of Rosberg but his tyres will only get worse

Lap 62

Vettel is now the quickest of the leading three. He's 1.1s behind Button and 2.5s off the lead... It's nip and tuck between these three but Alonso seems to be finding a bit more pace too

Lap 63

Alonso does a good lap 0.2s quicker than Button. Unless one of the leading three have tyre issues you can see it staying this way to the flag.

Schumacher is now 1.6 behind Perez, while Raikkonen does a slow lap in fourth and Kobayashi is 5.6s behind.

Lap 64

Button with a slower lap, he's fallen 1.9s behind Alonso and has Vettel well within DRS range... Vettel doesn't attack but Button seems to be struggling now. He did pit first out of the leaders.

Lap 65

Alonso puts the hammer down and pulls his lead out to 2.4s. Vettel again uses DRS but again isn't quite close enough. He's all over the back of Button through the middle sector.

Schumacher unable to make any more impression on Perez.

Lap 66

Alonso's got this race won.

Vettel uses DRS as Button's tyres go off. Button defends the inside line in to the hairpin. Vettel runs wide off the track but still drives around the outside of Button. Button complains that he passed him off the circuit and McLaren says "the FIA are away"

Lap 67

Alonso now five seconds clear of Vettel. He's measured this race superbly. This Ferrari is a very good car now.

He comes through the stadium section and takes the chequered flag: FERNANDO ALONSO WINS THE GERMAN GRAND PRIX.

Vettel comes home second and Button in third place. Raikkonen is fourth ahead of Kobayashi and Perez - a good day for Sauber - while Schumacher is seventh. Webber, Hulkenberg and Rosberg complete the top ten.

Phil asks if Vettel is allowed to pass Button off the track - and the stewards have just said that the overtaking incident is under investigation. It was tight but I think Vettel will get away with it.

We've just had another look at it and Vettel drives clean off the track to be able to get the power down. I actually am now thinking it was not a fair overtake...tough one to call but Vettel could be in trouble here. If he was given a retrospective drive through penalty he'd drop to fifth place, though, so the punishment would be harsh...

Alonso stands on his Ferrari in parc ferme and takes the applause. Another faultless performance from the Spaniard - he's really making himself the championship favourite now.

Button tells Vettel he's under investigation for the overtaking move, and Vettel says he didn't know if Button was still on the inside so left space. Craig emails in to say: "Let's hope it's sorted before the podium!" but I'm afraid it isn't.

Alonso jumps on to the top step and takes the applause as the Spanish national anthem rings out for the third time this season. Alonso is still yet to finish a race and now holds a clear lead in the championship - 34 points over Webber and 36 over Vettel. As it stands.

Raikkonen's fourth place moves him above Hamilton in to fourth on 95 points - 59 points behind Alonso. Starting to become a three-horse race with the Prancing Horse on top.

Alonso and Pat Fry raise their trophies above their heads, and after Vettel and Button do likewise the champagne starts to flow. It's time for us to go, thanks for all of your comments during the race and make sure you stick with ESPNF1.com for all the reaction to the race and to see if Vettel keeps that second place. Not long until the next race either - we'll be back for the Hungarian Grand Prix next weekend. Bye for now.