[h=2]German Grand Prix[/h] [h=1]Lewis Hamilton holds off Fernando Alonso to win German Grand Prix[/h] Briton's second win of season keeps championship alive Vettel only fourth as Red Bulls show signs of strain Share reddit this Giles Richards at Nürburgring guardian.co.uk, Sunday 24 July 2011 17.32 BST Article history Lewis Hamilton sealed his second win of the season in the German Grand Prix. Photograph: Srdjan Suki/EPA Lewis Hamilton's tense but emphatic win at the Nürburgring on Sunday could not have come at a better time for the driver or his team. His driving style has been criticised and McLaren's management questioned in recent weeks but here, at one of motor racing's true temples of speed where the lead changed hands seven times, both were flawless. An authoritative drive and perfect stops yielded a rightly acclaimed victory. "Every win is special but with all the emotion, effort and energy the team put into today's victory, this one feels even more special than usual," said Hamilton. For the team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, that his driver and team had had to fight to prove they were still in the fightwas all the more satisfying: "It was a gripping race, real edge-of-the-seat stuff, with all three teams involved operating at the top of their form. When that happens, the victory is particularly hard-won and mighty satisfying too," he said. Struggling for pace in practice, Hamilton drove what he described as a "wicked lap" to qualify alongside Mark Webber on the front row of the grid, but the question was whether it could be matched in the race itself. That he had the horses was soon confirmed. McLaren had brought some upgrades to Germany but their pace here proved that, disregarding regulation-tweaking, the car has been steadily improving. Hamilton swiftly nailed the lead from a slow-starting Webber into turn one. Webber fought back to the front on the exit of the chicane several laps later but Hamilton swept past him immediately on the straight to retake the lead which he maintained until the first round of stops. But this was no cake ride. Webber and Fernando Alonso, who had taken third from Sebastian Vettel struggling with brake issues loomed large in his mirrors throughout. Only a second separated them and all three were clocking tight, metronomic laps, looking for the edge. Webber found it first. By stopping early and with fresh rubber and the undercut, he took the lead back, the first time he has led a race this season. Felipe Massa, too, took advantage, passing Vettel for fourth and making it stick through the stop;the world champion would figure no more in the battle for the podium. At the sharp end the leaders remained together and, with no sign of rain, three-stopping to take maximum advantage of the soft "option" tyres was the sensible choice. Webber looked again for the undercut, pitting on lap 30. But Hamilton had his measure and was wheel to wheel with the Australian as he exited the pits. They touched at turn two but in a clean, ballsy move the British driver squeezed him wide and held the place. Hamilton executed it perfectly, with the timing and skill his detractors have been clamouring for, and it was a moment of which victories are made. Yet there was still more to do. Alonso, enjoying a Ferrari that was improving as the temperature rose and working its tyres well, looked to keep the lead he had inherited by pitting two laps later. He exited just ahead and it was wheel to wheel again through the opening complex, where Hamilton took advantage of his warmer tyres and went ahead around the outside of turn two. This was gripping stuff and despite no Germansbeing in the top four, the crowd were enjoying it hugely. It was enough for Hamilton too; the final round of stops yielded nothing for Alonso and Webber, gambling on staying out longer, saw no return. Red Bull's über-efficient pit crew did steal fourth for Vettel as he and Massa pitted together on the final lap, a harsh result for the Brazilian who had defended stoutly throughout. Webber, who cannot seem to buy a win at the moment, could find no faults: "I did pretty much everything I could today. It was very intense racing between the three of us." The Australian had taxied Alonso to the podium after the Spaniard was instructed to cut his engine as a precaution but he too acknowledged a worthy winner: "Hamilton was quicker and so well done to him and his team. When I was behind him I was pushing as hard as I could." Jenson Button had a poor start and was stuck in traffic until forced to retire with a hydraulic problem. The performance gap in cars is one thing, another is that to the world champion. Vettel remains healthily ahead on points (216 to Webber's 139, Hamilton's 134, Alonso's 130 and Button's 109) but, noticeably, has driven another race from behind the front row without improving his position. He has won only two grands prix after not leading into the first corner and the questions over his ability to fight from behind have not been answered in Germany. His opponents will not be unaware of this and must do more to try and stifle him in qualifying. But that is for next Sunday and Hungary; in the interim McLaren and Hamilton have answered their critics in the most demonstrable way. "Being able to drive with your head as well as your heart, and getting it just right, is massively satisfying," the victor said.