Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the German Formula One Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
HOCKENHEIM, Germany - Fernando Alonso led from the start to win the German Grand Prix in his Ferrari on Sunday and extend his Formula One championship lead.
The Spaniard never opened up a big lead but never looked in serious danger of losing it either, successfully fending off the Red Bull of two-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel and the McLaren of Jenson Button.
"It was tough. Maybe we were not the fastest in dry conditions but we were competitive to retain the lead," Alonso said. "Jenson was putting a lot of pressure."
Vettel failed again to win his home race but passed Button with one lap remaining in the 67-lap race to take second. The move was under scrutiny from the stewards to see whether Vettel was off track when he passed.
"I wasn't sure if he (Button) was on the inside or not. The last thing you want to do is make contact. When we were side by side, I tried to give him enough room but it's difficult to see. I went wide," Vettel said. "We were all struggling with tires, Jenson in particular, which is why I was able to pass him."
Button had been challenging Alonso for the lead, before his tires gave out over the last few laps.
"I had a great race out there and it is nice to be fighting at the front again," the Briton said.
Button did not want to comment on Vettel's overtaking move.
Alonso became the first driver to win three races this season and now has a 34-point lead over Mark Webber, the second Red Bull driver who was eighth.
Vettel stayed third after 10 of 20 races. Alonso has 154 points, Webber 120 and Vettel 118.
Vettel complained bitterly about Button's McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton, saying the Briton slowed him down when he unlapped himself on lap 35. Hamilton, in his 100th Grand Prix, had an early puncture that ruined his race before he retired on lap 59.