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Page last updated at 15:37 GMT, Sunday, 24 July 2011 16:37 UK

Lewis Hamilton wins thrilling German Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton

Highlights - German Grand Prix

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport at the Nurburgring

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton won a thrilling German Grand Prix with a feisty drive at a chilly Nurburgring to move third in the championship.

Hamilton jumped Mark Webber's Red Bull at the start for the lead, lost and regained it before beating Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Webber to the line.

An error-strewn drive saw Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel finish fourth but his championship lead remains 77 points.

McLaren's Jenson Button retired for the second race in a row.

An aggressive qualifying lap had earned Hamilton second on the grid behind Webber and the 26-year-old delivered more of the same when it counted most.

A second victory of the season - and his 16th career victory - leaves Hamilton 82 points behind Vettel with nine races left to go.

Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton & Mark Webber

Top three drivers - German GP

Hamilton celebrated on his pit-to-car radio: "Great job guys, great job. Keep pushing, these are the results we can get, it's amazing."

The 2008 world champion jumped pole-sitter Webber at the start to take the lead and although the Australian passed him a few laps later, Hamilton used the Red Bull's slip stream to re-take the lead.

The first round of stops saw Webber make a more decisive move as he pitted first on lap 14 and while Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel jostled for position coming out of the pit lane two laps later Webber sailed supremely into the lead.

An intense battle followed with less than two seconds covering Webber, Hamilton and Alonso. But Vettel, who had spun on the damp track, fell away from the leading pack.

The second stop for new soft tyres saw another dramatic switch of position with Webber again pitting first followed on the next two laps by Hamilton and Alonso.

Hamilton moved into the lead, slightly nudging Webber out of the way as the Australian tried to defend his lead, but Alonso moved in front on his way out of the pit lane.

The Spaniard's lead did not last long as Hamilton drove around the Ferrari on the outside to move back into first position.

"Hamilton is incredible," commented F1 BBC co-commentator David Coulthard. "He's in permanent attack mode and there's no love lost between him and Alonso either."

There was every chance the trio of closely matched drivers could have swapped positions in an obligatory stop for hard tyres inside the final 10 laps.

That was unquestionably one of Lewis's best wins. That pass around Alonso, catching him napping, was the key to the whole race

BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard

But Hamilton, who came in first, held on to take his first victory since April's Chinese Grand Prix ahead of Alonso and Webber.

There were contrasting fortunes on the other side of the McLaren garage as Button retired for the second race running.

The 2009 champion had been working his way through the field with a two-stop strategy after sliding back to 10th after a poor start.

But his comeback was cut short when the team told Button to bring the car back to the garage just after the halfway mark because of hydraulic problems.

"I had a terrible first lap but then the pace was good and it was all looking quite exciting," said Button, who remains fifth in the world championship.

"But I had to retire the car because you never know what can happen with the hydraulics."

For the first time this season, Vettel was not in full command of his Red Bull and his team suggested he may have had a problem with his rear brakes.

The reigning world champion managed to pass Felipe Massa's Ferrari in his final stop on the penultimate lap to gain fourth place.

"He just did not seem settled and the confidence goes - and that's the magic ingredient," added Coulthard.

Following Massa's Ferrari came Adrian Sutil's Force India, Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Vitaly Petrov of Renault.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel

Vettel fearing rivals resurgence

A difficult weekend for Petrov's Renault team-mate Nick Heidfeld came to an end when he was squeezed on to the grass by Sebastien Buemi's Toro Rosso after just 11 laps.

"He just moved over and there was nowhere to go," said Heidfeld. "It was an accident that could not be avoided."

Buemi was given a five-place grid penalty for next weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, causing the collision.

Rubens Barrichello also retired from the race when the Cosworth engine failed in his Williams.

There was a light-hearted end to the race when Webber gave Alonso a lift back to the paddock. The scene was reminiscent of when Britain's 1992 champion Nigel Mansell gave a lift to the late Ayrton Senna at the 1991 British GP.



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see also
McLaren back in fight - Hamilton
24 Jul 11 |  Formula One
Red Bull need to improve - Webber
24 Jul 11 |  Formula 1
German Grand Prix as it happened
24 Jul 11 |  Formula 1
Webber on pole ahead of Hamilton
23 Jul 11 |  Formula One


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
CNN Hamilton wins German Grand Prix - 31 mins ago
Citizen.co.za Hamilton takes brilliant victory in German GP - 37 mins ago
Yahoo! UK and Ireland UPDATE 2-Motor racing-Hamilton wins in style in Germany - 1 hr ago
Sporting Life GERMAN GLORY FOR LEWIS HAMILTON - 1 hr ago
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