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GP Week : Issue 92
race engineer Rob Smedley. Felipe came in one lap later, and returned to the lead. For this next stage of the race, Alonso was able to close up on Massa. His trend was to back off occasionally, to see how his lap times compared to the leading Ferrari's in clear air. There was a radio transmission that was rather incomprehensible, but it sounded like Alonso was asking the pit-wall to issue the order to pass. Team principal Stefano Domenicalli was waving his arms around as he sat on the pit wall, while chief engineer Chris Dyer urged his boss to wait. The danger was that, without instruction to Felipe, Fernando's frustration would boil over and he would make a risky move. Ferrari had seen what happened between Vettel and Mark Webber in Turkey. They wanted to control their drivers. They needed the points. The waiting stopped on Lap 48 when Smedley came on the radio, grudgingly: "Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understand this message?" Make no mistake, Smedley was as upset to utter those words as Felipe was to hear it. The following lap, after taking the hairpin, Massa slowed on the outside and allowed the double world champion past. Alonso had bullied his way through, but he hadn't done so on the track. "Alright mate, well done. Just stick with it now. Sorry," radioed Smedley. After the race, Domenicalli would dismiss this as merely a sign of a close engineer-driver relationship, not of guilt. Alonso set fastest laps in the closing minutes -- though the fastest of all came at the hands of Vettel on the final lap. Nevertheless, Massa was able to keep a fast (albeit less consistent pace) occasionally beating Alonso's times. He finished 1.0 second ahead of the third placed German, and 4.1 seconds behind Alonso at the end of 67 laps. Fernando received a congratulatory message from his boss, but asked: "How is Felipe?" The answer was: properly hacked off. Felipe made his feelings on the podium clear. He looked like he needed a hug. He got one from Domenicalli but was then immediately dragged to a photo-call, Stefano in the middle, all smiles from he and Fernando -- but nothing but glum chops from Felipe. He had been robbed. Ferrari needed this win, and they delivered. Massively. They lapped the field up to seventh. But did they need to do this? Did they need to initiate a switch? The championship comes first. But the fall-out won Ferrari no friends in Germany. As for the media, we were gifted with a controversy we could get our teeth stuck into. But the story of Felipe winning on the exact one-year anniversary of his near- death accident last year would have been so much better. Damn them. F1 HOCKENHEIM >> 31