Alonso Cruises to German GP Win

Kimi Raikkonen's World Championship hopes were left in tatters on Sunday when another McLaren failure halted his charge to victory in the German Grand Prix and handed title race leader Fernando Alonso a vital win

Alonso Cruises to German GP Win

Raikkonen had dominated the weekend and looked set to race to a runaway victory but his car ground to a halt just after half distance to continue his run of non-finishes at the Hockenheim track and leave Alonso as the champion elect.

Spaniard Alonso jumped into second at the start and trailed Raikkonen all the way until the Finn's retirement left him with a clear road ahead and a 30-second advantage at the front of the field.

He cruised home for his sixth win of the year to extend his championship lead to 36 points over Raikkonen while Montoya fared the better of the McLaren pair as he capitalised on pace and strategy to climb from 20th to second.

Jenson Button won a battle with World Champion Michael Schumacher, the home hero this weekend, as he claimed his and his BAR-Honda team's first classified podium of the season with a strong drive to third.

Schumacher, who won at a canter in Germany last year, missed out on fourth when Giancarlo Fisichella, hounding him in the final laps, nipped past to steal the place on the penultimate lap.

Ralf Schumacher was sixth for Toyota, David Coulthard was seventh to secure his sixth points finish for Red Bull, his first in four races, and Felipe Massa claimed the final point for eighth place in his Sauber.

Raikkonen made a clean start from pole to head the field into the first corner as fellow front-row starter Button unsurprisingly dropped down to fourth, passed by Alonso and Schumacher, who went round on the outside of turn one.

Fisichella dropped down as the rest of the field jostled for position while Nick Heidfeld, of Williams, made up two places, Coulthard shot up from 11th to sixth and Montoya climbed from the back of the grid into 11th place.

Takuma Sato, Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber all pitted at the end of a frantic first lap, with Sato having a nose cone changed on his BAR-Honda and Webber climbing out of his Williams as the mechanics went to work.

Sauber driver Jacques Villeneuve collided with Grand Prix debutant Robert Doornbos' Minardi on the fourth lap and both drivers were forced to pit but came out after the incident damage had been checked over.

With six laps gone Raikkonen led Alonso by 3.7 seconds with Schumacher 7.2 seconds back in third, Button fourth, Heidfeld fifth, Coulthard sixth, Massa seventh and Fisichella eighth.

Webber returned to the track on lap 12 with the repairs to his Williams complete and although he was nine laps down, the chance of making up places in qualifying order for the next race was worth his return.

Heidfeld was the first of the leaders to stop, at the end of lap 15, Massa and Red Bull driver Christian Klien stopped on lap 19, then Button, in fourth, and Coulthard, in fifth, came in the following lap.

Debutant Robert Doornbos was handed a 10-second stop-go penalty after his Minardi team changed tyres and refuelled at the same time when he pitted then, on lap 22, Alonso and Schumacher made their first stops.

Klien had a trip through the gravel at turn 12 on the 23rd lap then Fisichella came in for his first stop at the end of lap 23 leaving just Ralf Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello and the McLaren pair still to pit.

Raikkonen set the fastest lap on lap 24 then peeled into the pits at the end of the 25th lap to make his stop and came out with the entire length of the pit straight between him and second-placed Alonso.

Ralf Schumacher also stopped at the end of lap 25, Barrichello stopped at the end of lap 26 but Montoya, who fuelled up after his mistake in qualifying, stayed out until the end of lap 27.

Villeneuve was in the wars again on lap 28 when he was pushed onto the grass when trying to pass Tiago Monteiro's Jordan and clattered into the back, sending both cars spinning and smashing off the Sauber's nose cone.

With all the pit stops complete Raikkonen had around 10 seconds advantage over Alonso in second with Schumacher third and Button fourth but Montoya had climbed all the way up to fifth.

Then, on lap 36, the race was up for Raikkonen when he suddenly came to a halt at turn five, handing the lead to championship rival Alonso, and he walked away despondently as his car was pushed away.

With 40 laps gone Alonso was now in a clear lead while Schumacher, almost half a minute down the road, had been reeled in by Button and had the BAR-Honda right in his rear-view mirrors.

Button pounced on lap 45 when the pair headed up to the hairpin and he made a clean move on the World Champion to put himself up into second position with Montoya now closing down on the German.

Once again Montoya stayed out later than the rest of the field through the second set of stops in a bid to leap-frog some more of his rivals and, if possible, climb all the way up to second place.

Jarno Trulli, a front-running contender earlier in the season, was handed a drive-through penalty with 13 laps to go for ignoring the blue flags while being lapped as Alonso continued his easy run to victory.

Then Montoya made his final stop at the end of lap 56 and his tactic proved perfect as he raced out of the pits just ahead of the Briton, but second place was little consolation for his McLaren team.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The German Grand Prix Hockenheim, Germany; 67 laps; 306.458km; Weather: Cloudy. Classified: Pos Driver Team Time  1. Alonso Renault (M) 1h26:28.599 2. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) +  22.569 3. Button BAR-Honda (M) + 24.422 4. Fisichella Renault (M) + 50.587 5. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) + 51.690 6. R.Schumacher Toyota (M) + 52.242 7. Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth (M) + 52.700 8. Massa Sauber-Petronas (M) + 56.570 9. Klien Red Bull-Cosworth (M) + 1:09.818 10. Barrichello Ferrari (B) + 1 lap 11. Heidfeld Williams-BMW (M) + 1 lap 12. Sato BAR-Honda (M) + 1 lap 13. Albers Minardi-Cosworth (B) + 2 laps
14. Trulli Toyota (M) + 3 laps 15. Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas (M) + 3 laps 16. Karthikeyan Jordan-Toyota (B) + 3 laps 17. Monteiro Jordan-Toyota (B) + 3 laps 18. Doornbos Minardi-Cosworth (B) + 4 laps Fastest Lap: Raikkonen, 1:14.873 Not Classified/Retirements: Driver Team On Lap Webber Williams-BMW (M) 57 Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 36 World Championship Standing, Round 12: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Alonso 87 1. Renault 117 2. Raikkonen 51 2. McLaren-Mercedes 95 3. M.Schumacher 47 3. Ferrari 78 4. Montoya 34 4. Toyota 57 5. Barrichello 31 5. Williams-BMW 47 6. Trulli 31 6. Red Bull-Cosworth 24 7. Fisichella 30 7. BAR-Honda 15 8. R.Schumacher 26 8. Sauber-Petronas 14 9. Heidfeld 25 9. Jordan-Toyota 11 10. Webber 22 10. Minardi-Cosworth 7 11. Coulthard 19 12. Button 15 13. Massa 8 14. Wurz 6 15. Monteiro 6 16. Villeneuve 6 17. Karthikeyan 5 18. Albers 4 19. Klien 4 20. de la Rosa 4 21. Friesacher 3 22. Liuzzi 1 All timing unofficial
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