Fernando Alonso led a Ferrari one-two in the German Grand Prix on Sunday after denying Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa an emotional victory one year on from a near-fatal crash. While the Spaniard celebrated his second triumph of the season, and 23rd of his career, it was accompanied by a whiff of controversy with Massa sent a veiled message to allow his teammate through.
“So, Fernando is faster than you,” Massa’s race engineer Rob Smedley told the Brazilian on the 47th of the 67 laps after his driver had led from the start.
Alonso then passed two laps later, prompting Smedley to say to Massa: “Good lad. Just stick with it now. Sorry.”
Massa’s disappointment, evident at the finish when he shrugged off Alonso’s attempted embrace as they stepped out of their cars, was matched by that of the home fans hoping to see Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel win from pole position.
The young German made a poor start, with the Ferraris scything past on either side, and had to make do with third place.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton finished fourth to extend his championship lead over teammate and reigning champion Jenson Button, who was fifth, to 14 points.
The one-two finish was Ferrari’s second of the season after they placed in the same order in the Bahrain season-opener and re-established them and Alonso as contenders after a difficult run of races.
Sunday marked the first anniversary of the Hungarian Grand Prix accident that left Massa in a coma for days and fighting life-threatening injuries after being hit on the head by bouncing debris in qualifying.
The Brazilian missed the rest of the 2009 season, and has not won a race since 2008, but he gave it his best shot on Sunday.
Vettel, on pole for the sixth time in 11 races, moved aggressively to his right at the start to try and block Alonso, handing Massa a clear track to beat both of them into the first corner.
With the Ferraris one-two for the first 13 laps before Alonso pitted, the main thrill was the battle of wills between the determined Brazilian and a Spanish teammate whose frustration became increasingly evident.
“This is ridiculous,” Alonso was heard saying over the team radio as he tried, and failed, to squeeze past on lap 21.
When the double world champion, who will celebrate his 29th birthday in Hungary on Thursday, finally did get past, it was a muted success.
“That was as blatant as it comes. He might as well have put his arm out of the cockpit and waved him through,” British driver Anthony Davidson told BBC radio listeners.
With Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren in a different race to the rest, Renault, Mercedes and Sauber scrapped for the remaining points.
Australian Mark Webber was sixth for Red Bull, Poland’s Robert Kubica seventh in a Renault and followed by the Mercedes of Germans Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
Russian Vitaly Petrov, his future with the team subject to considerable speculation, collected the final point for Renault in his first top 10 finish since April. – Reuters