Nuerburgring: Ferrari showed again that they are back in the mix following a tough start to the Formula One season but another pitstop problem took the shine off an otherwise solid German Grand Prix showing.
Fernando Alonso, who won two weeks ago in Britain for the Italian outfit`s first victory of the campaign, fought at sometimes too hard for a second-placed finish behind surprise winner and old nemesis Lewis Hamilton of McLaren.
The Spaniard went wide twice but recovered in his customary style and was so on the limit that he was running out of fuel after just passing the finish line and had to be given a lift by third-placed Mark Webber of Red Bull.
The pair escaped sanction for their antics.
"Today, we were clearly superior to the Red Bulls in terms of performance and this is important, given where we were at the start of the championship," said Alonso, now 86 points behind Red Bull`s championship leader Sebastian Vettel in fourth with nine races left.
"That does not mean it will be the same in the coming races, but the situation is getting back to normal. (After crossing the line) the team told me to stop the car for safety reasons. Mark was there so I took the taxi."
Ferrari fans are still mentally scarred by memories of the last race of last year when Alonso had a third world title in his sights before a bungled pit call had him caught up in traffic, handing the championship to Vettel.
Another late pit panic at the Nuerburgring cost Felipe Massa his highest place of the season as the Brazilian entered the box ahead of Vettel only for Ferrari to struggle with a wheel nut and the German to get out in front and finish fourth.
Finishing ahead of the championship leader in his home race would have been a big boost to Massa, who next Sunday will race in Hungary, the site of his horror head injury two years ago.
"Sure, I would have preferred to have stayed ahead of the world champion right to the end, but at the final pit stop there was a problem with the wheel nut on the left rear which cost me a few seconds," Massa said.
"These things happen and recrimination achieves nothing."