Fernando Alonso claimed the second victory of his debut season with Ferrari at Hockenheim, but only after the Scuderia told long-time leader Felipe Massa to make way for the Spaniard.
Massa had taken advantage of front row pair Sebastian Vettel and Alonso appeared preoccupied with fighting each other off the line, sweeping around the outside of turn one to claim the lead.
Alonso duly slotted into second as Vettel again found that trying to pin an opponent against the pit-wall was not a wise tactic, and the German nearly lost out to a fast-starting Jenson Button, until baulking the Briton as he attempted to defend third. Button, slowed, dropped back to sixth as Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber both got back inside him.
From there, the two Ferraris proceeded to drop Vettel as they traded early fastest laps, and held station through the round of pit-stops, where Button was the biggest winner, by vaulting past Webber into fifth behind his team-mate.
The order appeared static until the fateful call of ‘Felipe, Fernando is faster than you’ came on lap 48, and the Brazilian duly made room for his team-mate at the hairpin next time around. The atmosphere on the Ferrari pit stand was clear to see, with Massa’s engineer Rob Smedley decidedly apologetic at having to impart the ‘news’.
Once ahead, Alonso did pull away from his team-mate, who recovered from the blow of losing a potential victory on the eve of the anniversary of his Hungaroring accident to keep Vettel at bay over the remaining 17 laps, while Hamilton and Button gave vain chase at a distance in excess of 20 seconds, having briefly been told to save fuel.
Webber’s hopes of recovering the places he lost to the McLarens were dented by reports of excessive oil consumption with a third of the race to go, his sixth place points allowing Vettel to draw level in the championship, albeit still behind the McLaren duo.
Robert Kubica, Nico Rosberg, Michael Schumacher and Vitaly Petrov rounded out the point-scorers, despite the Russian being told to ensure that managed his gearshifts ‘properly’.