A chink in the armour

Sebastian Vettel

Still something to prove - Seb can't quite match Lewis' racecraft. (Infiniti)

After starring in qualifying Lewis Hamilton put in a spectacular drive to win a fine race this afternoon at the Nurburgring. The Mclaren star had to go wheel-to-wheel with Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber, while Sebastian Vettel took until the last lap to grab fourth from Felipe Massa in the pitlane and Adrian Sutil picked up a superb sixth for Force India in his home Grand Prix. Hamilton has rarely looked happier and rightly so. He had the pace all race and put in two very different but equally brave moves on Alonso and Webber, using his ability to strike hard when his rivals are vulnerable.

Despite a spot of wheelspin off the startline Lewis seized the top spot from polesitter Mark Webber, although at least the Australian finally led some laps in 2011. Mark fought back briefly as he passed Lewis for all of one corner but it wasn’t until the leader’s pitstops were completed on lap 17 when the Red Bull man assumed control, before dropping to third the next time he stopped for tyres on lap 30 on a day when the lead three cars were tightly matched. This time it was Alonso who emerged ahead of Hamilton out of the pits, though it was short-lived as the Mclaren driver powered his way around the outside of the Ferrari in turn two as the Spaniard emerged on colder rubber. Webber then lost touch on a rare day where the Red Bull looked like it was only the third quickest car on circuit leaving Lewis Hamilton to take his 16th Grand Prix victory.

Vettel was way out of sorts with a spin on lap 10 during a very difficult first half of the race for the world champion which left the homeboy locked into a battle with Massa for a distant fourth place. A last lap switch to the prime tyre for both of them came out in Sebastian’s favour but it took the pitcrew to make the pass for him. Sebastian is arguably the outright fastest driver but he still hasn’t quelled the doubts over his ability in traffic. There remains something to prove for the youngest ever champion of the world when it comes to racecraft.

Suffering far more than any other title contender was Jenson Button who not for the first time made a bad getaway before eventually succumbing to a hydraulic failure just after fighting his way past Rosberg into sixth place. Button was left down in the dumps while Hamilton was up in the clouds.

Within a week we will go from one ring to the other as the teams pack up their kit at the Nurburgring and drive to the Hungaroring where the heat will literally be on Mclaren and Ferrari to keep up their current run of form. The higher temperatures in Hungary should help Red Bull regain ground once more. For either Lewis or Fernando to overcome Sebastian’s 77 point lead in the championship it isn’t enough to just beat him into second, they need a day like today where both their teams are able to take points away from Red Bull. That is a tough ask but the German Grand Prix will give both squads real hope.

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