|McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates after winning the German F1 Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring circuit July 24, 2011. Hamilton won the race ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso of Spain Red Bull's Mark Webber of Australia. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
NURBURG, Germany - Lewis Hamilton of McLaren held off Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber from Red Bull to win Sunday's German Grand Prix.
Hamilton quickly grabbed the lead from pole sitter Webber heading into the first turn of the opening lap. The lead then swapped several times among Hamilton, Alonso and Webber during their three rounds of pit stops in the 60- lap grand prix at the 3.2-mile (5.148-kilometer) Nurburgring circuit.
All three drivers made their final stops within the final 10 laps. When Webber pitted from the lead with four laps remaining, Hamilton regained the top position for good, finishing 3.9 seconds ahead of Alonso for his second win of the season and the 16th of his Formula One career. His first victory this year came in the April 17 Chinese Grand Prix.
"Great job, guys, great job; that was amazing," Hamilton joyfully said over his team radio after taking the checkered flag.
Hamilton claimed he had one of his best qualifying performances ever after securing the second starting position on Saturday. He felt the same way after winning this race for the second time. His first German GP victory came in 2008.
"We never really expected to come here this weekend and be so fast," he said. "The guys did a fantastic job, and they've been pushing very hard. I just feel great. I think it was one of the best races I've ever had."
After finishing either first or second in the first nine grand prix, defending world champion Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull had his worst performance of the season with a fourth-place finish. The young German struggled from start to finish in front of his home crowd. He slid off course early in the race.
"I'm not happy; I'm not satisfied," Vettel said. "We have to accept that other people were quicker than us today."
Vettel has now accumulated 216 points this season, compared to 139 for his teammate Webber. Hamilton moved to within five points of Webber.
"I did everything I could," Webber said. "These guys [Hamilton and Alonso] had a little extra margin when they needed to do it, especially the back part of the stints. That made us a little bit exposed on strategies, so we know what we need to improve on."
Alonso, the defending race winner, continued with his mid-season surge after finishing second. The Spaniard won the British Grand Prix two weeks ago and finished in the runner-up spot in last month's European Grand Prix held in his home country.
"In the last stint, we were not too quick, so we just controlled the gap with Mark and secured second place," Alonso said. "For us, it was a fantastic race and a fantastic Sunday again. It was great to get second place after the win in Silverstone and second in Valencia."
Alonso is fourth in points with 130.
His Ferrari teammate, Felipe Massa, finished fifth on Sunday.
Massa and Vettel pitted at the same just before the final lap, but a slow stop for Massa allowed Vettel to come out ahead of him.
Adrian Sutil from Force India took the sixth spot, followed by Mercedes GP teammates Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Vitaly Petrov from Renault completed the top-10.
F1 will head to Budapest later this week for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
07/24 11:09:01 ET