No luck for Raikkonen as Alonso wins
The German Grand Prix resembled so many other races this season: a victory for Renault’s Fernando Alonso and a breakdown for Kimi Raikkonen.
On Sunday, Raikkonen started from the pole and led comfortably until the 36th lap when his McLaren-Mercedes stopped on the track with hydraulic problems.
It’s the third time this season he’s led, only be forced out by mechanical failure.
Alonso has picked up his sixth victory of the season, keeping the Spaniard on course to become formula one’s youngest champion.
He turns 24 on Friday, but is being cautious about claiming the season title.
“He [Raikkonen] has the best car and we have to be careful,” Alonso said. “There are still 70 points to race, but if we keep finishing races, it will be difficult for him.”
By collecting 10 points in the 67-lap race, Alonso has 87, followed by Raikkonen (51) and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher (47), who finished fifth. Seven races remain.
Alonso was followed by McLaren-Mercedes’s Juan Pablo Montoya, who started from the back of the grid but charged back to finish second, ahead of Jenson Button in a BAR-Honda.
It was a near-victory for Montoya, who started from last after crashing in Saturday’s qualifying session.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Alonso’s teammate, was fourth ahead of defending champion Schumacher in a Ferrari.
Schumacher acknowledged that his chase is over.
“I don’t think I can count myself in this battle any more,” he said.
Raikkonen may have the fastest car in the field, but it hasn’t been reliable.
“It’s always terrible to retire from a race, but to retire while in the lead with a good gap to the number-two car is even worse,” Raikkonen said. “This is the worst thing that could have happened, as it looked like the race was in the bag.”
“There is still a mathematical chance that I can win the championship, but it’s getting difficult,” he added.
Starting from dead-last, Montoya treated second place like a victory.
“I hope the result made up a bit for the mistake I made yesterday [Saturday],” Montoya said.
“It was a fantastic day,” Alonso added. “I had a perfect race, the balance of the car was perfect from the beginning.
“After the retirement of Kimi, well, it was boring, I had such a big lead.
“Obviously, they [McLaren] are quicker than us, but a race is 70 laps, to 30.”
Raikkonen had to abandon the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola and the European Grand Prix at Nürburgring. He was leading both.
In his previous two races, he suffered engine failures in practice and was penalised 10 places on the starting grid. He still managed second place in France and third in Britain.
“It seems I’ve had my share of bad luck this season,” Raikkonen said.
Alonso covered the 67 laps on the 5,574km Hockenheim circuit in one hour, 26 minutes and 28,599 seconds, for an average speed of 212,629kph. Montoya was 22,5 seconds behind and Button 24,4 seconds adrift.
Button had his best finish of the season, coming in third.
“It was a lot of fun. Michael got in front of me at the start when I went wide in the first corner and it’s so difficult to get past on this circuit.
“Michael is not the easiest person to overtake,” Button said.
Schumacher, a three-time winner at Hockenheim, gained two places at the start but couldn’t hold on.
Button overtook him in a corner on lap 45 and Fisichella surged past on the final lap.
Schumacher dominated last season to win his seventh formula-one championship, but his Ferrari has been underachieving this year.
“It was more or less what we expected,” Schumacher said of his fifth place.
“I struggled a lot with my tyres today, which is why I could not hold off Jenson, and I had a fuel-feed problem when Giancarlo got past me,” he said.
The Hungarian Grand Prix is next weekend, followed by a three-week break before the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul.—Sapa-AP