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Alonso Takes Controversial Win in Germany

July 25, 2010

Fernando Alonso took a controversial win in Germany this afternoon, after coded team orders from Ferrari saw race-leader Felipe Massa hand over the lead.

The two Ferrari drivers got a good start, with Massa taking the lead as Sebastian Vettel attempted to close the door on Alonso. The German pole-sitter ultimately lost out, with both Ferrari drivers diving past him on either side. Massa then led Alonso through the pitstops, with the two then trading fastest times early in the second stint. On lap 49, after jostling for first place a few laps earlier, Massa’s race engineer, Rob Smedley, gave a coded message to his driver over the radio: “Ok, so, Alonso is faster than you. Can you confirm you understand?” Moments later, the Brazilian driver lifted coming out of the turn six hairpin, and Alonso made the move for P1. The team order was confirmed a lap later over the radio, when Rob Smedley told Massa: “Good lad. Just stick with it now. Sorry”.

The team’s response after the race was that it wasn’t a team order, that it wasn’t a direct instruction, and that Massa made the decision. In the driver press conference, Alonso claimed he didn’t know what happened, while when asked what happened, Massa said: “He passed me”, adding that it was his decision.

While Massa had struggled for pace after stopping for the harder compound tyres, he had been able to pull out a gap to Alonso of around three seconds, before traffic brought the two closer together, and saw Alonso very nearly make a move on Massa stick into the turn six hairpin, and through turn seven. But when he was unable to pass his teammate, Ferrari chose to switch their two drivers, sparking controversy and a post-race $100,000 fine for breaking article 39.1 of the FIA rules and regulations that team orders are prohibited, and article 151c for bringing the sport into disrepute. Ferrari will have to face the World Motor Sport Council next, who could impose a harsher penalty on the Italian team.

Elsewhere in the race, polesitter Vettel lost out in the first corner to both Ferraris, managing to hold up Jenson Button as he attempted to make a move through the field. Lewis Hamilton immediately leapfrogged his teammate, and passed Mark Webber along the long parabolika straight, on the way down to turn six. By the end of the first lap, Massa was leading Alonso from Vettel, Hamilton, Webber, Button, Robert Kubica and Michael Schumacher, who was on the move from 11th on the grid.

Contact on the first lap between the two Toro Rosso drivers, saw the end to Sebastien Buemi’s race, when he lost his rear wing. The two Force Indias were also in the pits at the end of the lap, but a mix up of Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi’s tyres meant the two drivers had to pit again soon after, to switch their tyres over.

On lap 13, Red Bull took the opportunity to pit Vettel, putting him back out in clear air in fourth, and a lap later, Ferrari chose to bring Alonso in to ensure Red Bull didn’t get the upper hand on them. Webber pitted on lap 14 as well, but was released back out into traffic. Massa and Hamilton came in a lap later, with Massa rejoining in second behind Button who was yet to pit, while Hamilton rejoined in sixth behind Kubica, who also still needed to pit.

Button held on until lap 22 before he came in for his first and only stop, and after a handful of fast laps, was able to leapfrog Webber. The order after the pitstops was Massa from Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton, Button and Webber, in the top six.

The race remained constant from then on, with Massa and Alonso swapping fastest laps, until 18 laps from the end when Massa gifted the lead, in an obvious fashion, to Alonso. The move meant Massa lost his first win since his horrific accident in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, exactly a year ago today. Had Massa won, he would have moved further ahead in the drivers’ standings, taking him to 92 points, while Alonso would have 116 points.

Alonso’s win however, moves him closer in contention to the title on 123 points, behind the two Red Bull drivers who sit joint third on 136. Hamilton maintains his lead on 157 points, with Button on 143. In the constructors’ standings, McLaren further their lead on 300 points, with Red Bull on 272, with Ferrari moving up on 208.

The next race takes place next weekend in Hungary, with qualifying on Saturday 31st July, and the race live on BBC1 at 1pm on Sunday 1st August.

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One comment

  1. […] The two Ferrari drivers got a good start, with Massa taking the lead as Sebastian Vettel attempted to close the door on Alonso. The German pole-sitter ultimately lost out, with both Ferrari drivers taking an early lead. Massa then led Alonso through the pitstops, with the two then trading fastest times early in the second stint. On lap 49, after jostling for first place a few laps earlier, Massa’s race engineer, Rob Smedley, gave a coded message to his driver over the radio: “Ok, so, Alonso is faster than you. Can you confirm you understand?” Moments later, the Brazilian driver lifted coming out of the turn six hairpin, and Alonso made the move for P1. The team order was confirmed a lap later over the radio, when Rob Smedley told Massa: “Good lad. Just stick with it now. Sorry”… More […]



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