F1 2012 German Grand Prix: Hamilton's hopes punctured as Button claims podium

Lewis Hamilton exits the pits in the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

Lewis Hamilton exits the pits in the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

HOCH ZWEI

THERE were contrasting fortunes for McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in the 2012 Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheim.

Official 2012 German Grand Prix result

The official finishing order at Hockenheim

1 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)

2 Jenson Button (McLaren)

3 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)

4 Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)

5 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)*

6 Sergio Perez (Sauber)

7 Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)

8 Mark Webber (Red Bull)

* 20 second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage when rejoining.

Hamilton’s landmark 100th grand prix didn’t go exactly to plan, with an unfortunate second-lap puncture ending any hopes of a podium.

He ran over debris on the track left by Felipe Massa’s earlier collision at the first corner, causing damage to the rear of his car.

The 27-year-old former F1 world champion from Hertfordshire eventually retired from the race on lap 56 as Fernando Alonso took the chequered flag for Ferrari.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes teammate Button, meanwhile, crossed the finish line third after starting sixth on the grid. Button was later promoted to second place after Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was hit with a 20-second penalty by race stewards for leaving the track while overtaking the Brit and gaining an advantage when rejoining.

Official FIA F1 Constructors’ Championship

Revised constructors’ standings after 2012 German Grand Prix

1 Red Bull 230 pts

2 Ferrari 177

3 McLaren Mercedes 160

4 Lotus 159

5 Mercedes 105

6 Sauber 80

7 Williams 47

8 Force India 46

Button’s second stop for tyres on lap 40 was also the fastest Formula 1 pitstop of all time, with a stationary time of just 2.31 seconds.

Of his disappointing centenary race, Hamilton said: “My second-lap puncture was incredibly unfortunate: there was debris scattered across the full width of the track and I didn’t have any option other than to drive straight through it.

“What’s more frustrating is that, at the time, I was the eighth car through – so to be the one to get the puncture is just cruel luck.

“It was immediately clear that my car didn’t feel the same after the puncture. However, after a few laps, I was able to adapt my driving style, and the car had good pace during the middle stint.

2012 FIA F1 World Drivers’ Championship

Official standings after revised 2012 German Grand Prix result

1 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 154 pts

2 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 120

3 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 110

4 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) 98

5 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 92

6 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 76

7 Jenson Button (McLaren) 68

8 Romain Grosjean (Lotus) 61

“However, with the damage to the rear, I think we were lucky to get that far, to be honest.”

Despite his Hockenheim woes, Hamilton tried to take some positives from the race in Germany.

“At least I was able to have some fun out on track – my pace was good enough to be able to match the leaders during the middle stint,” said Hamilton.

“And that’s encouraging for me, because we know our car’s been genuinely quick this weekend. A big thank-you to everyone back at the factory for all their efforts to get a lot of new parts onto the car this weekend – every little bit helps, and we know there’s even more in the pipeline.”

Lewis Hamilton racing in the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]Lewis Hamilton racing in the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

Following Hamilton’s retirement, Button was in a three-way fight with Alonso and Vettel for the German GP podium positions in the closing laps.

He was running second when Vettel passed him on lap 66 of 67 after running all four wheels off the circuit.

The race stewards subsequently hit Vettel with a 20-second penalty for his Button pass on the penultimate lap, dropping the German down to fifth in the official results.

Former Olympic rowing silver medallist Tom Stallard, Button’s performance engineer from Tewin, tweeted: “Pretty pleased with 2nd today! #hockenheim.”

Jenson Button on the podium after finishing third in the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. He was later promoted to second place [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]Jenson Button on the podium after finishing third in the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. He was later promoted to second place [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

Button was also happy after finally returning to the podium.

“I had a really good race and really enjoyed myself out there. I made a good start, pulled off some good moves on both Nico [Hukenberg] and Michael [Schumacher] and had strong pace all afternoon,” said the 2009 F1 world champion.

As for being overtaken on the penultimate lap, Button said: “Sebastian [Vettel]’s pass was a pretty straightforward matter: the rules state that you can’t go off the track to gain an advantage.

“The thing is, there would have been more opportunities for him before the end of the race as my rear tyres were damaged.

Jenson Button leaves the pits during the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]Jenson Button leaves the pits during the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

“That’s because I had to push hard to try and catch Fernando [Alonso], which meant I had nothing left for the end of the race. We pretty much ran out of rubber two laps before the chequer.”

He also paid credit to the team in the pits for their blistering second stop.

Button said: “Although there’s previously been some negative talk about our pitstops, the boys did an unbelievable job today. My fastest stop was a 2.31s – the blink of an eye, and, I’m told, the fastest pitstop in history.

“They were phenomenal and gave it absolutely everything today – all our effort is really paying off now.”

Lewis Hamilton racing in the 2012 Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheim [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]Lewis Hamilton racing in the 2012 Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheim [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

Martin Whitmarsh, the team principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, congratulated Button and commiserated with the unlucky Hamilton afterwards.

He said: “A great drive from Jenson today – a little frustrating to have started sixth, which meant he lost time at the start of the race [behind Hulkenberg and Schumacher], but he drove brilliantly to catch and battle the leaders.”

As for Hamilton’s race, Whitmarsh said: “Lewis was incredibly unfortunate to be a victim of the Turn One debris – there wasn’t anything he could have done to avoid it.

“Unfortunately, the puncture damaged the rear of his car, prompting us to monitor the data carefully to track all the vital signs.

“He had a good push in the middle of the race, but the car got worse and worse, so it wasn’t safe or sensible to keep him out there. It’s a terribly disappointing conclusion to his 100th grand prix.”

The F1 circus heads to Budapest next weekend for the 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix.

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