Lewis Hamilton has won the 2011 German Grand Prix. The McLaren driver took the gong at Nurburgring ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Mark Webber. It was Hamilton’s second win this season after China, and his 16th career victory.

Current world champion Sebastian Vettel had a quiet race by his standards – enduring a big spin on lap 10 after an uncharacteristic mistake of putting his wheels on the grass while at that – and finished fourth, ahead of Felipe Massa of Ferrari, though there was a final flourish from both at the very end of the race.

The two drivers pitted at the same time a lap from the end for hard tyres, and while Massa led Vettel in, the Red Bull crew managed to get the German out ahead of the Brazilian. Still, it was Vettel’s first no-podium finish this season.

Finishing in sixth was Adrian Sutil of Force India, followed by the two Mercedes GP Petronas cars of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. In ninth was Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber, while 10th place went to Vitaly Petrov of Lotus Renault.

Meanwhile, it was another day to forget for the other man at McLaren, Jenson Button. Things may not have been as dramatically painful as that in the British GP a fortnight ago, but a retirement is a retirement, however it comes – the end for the 2009 world champion came on lap 36 when a hydraulics problem put him out.

Pole-sitter Webber had a poor start to the race, allowing Hamilton to get the jump on him at the first turn, and he was almost taken too – on either side – by the two Ferraris, though that moment came to pass and it eventually settled into the usual strategy game and seeing if staying out longer – or coming in early – on a particular compound could prove an inspired choice.

While that dictated things, the race itself was far from dull – there were certainly enough moments of bravado, first from Webber on lap 32 in attempting to overtake Hamilton as the Englishman came out from the pits after a tyre change, though that maneouvre, which almost came to the point of contact, didn’t come off for the Australian.

Then it was Hamilton’s turn to do the same to Alonso a lap later as the Ferrari came out of the pits, and through sheer muscle, the 2008 champion darted past the Spaniard. Once in the lead, Hamilton edged away from the two-time champion.

Towards the end, the leading pack attempted to stretch their softs for as long as they could – Hamilton traded to the hards on lap 51, Alonso two laps later, and Webber holding out until only four laps from the end, a gamble which didn’t pay off. In the end, Hamilton cruised to a comfortable victory, and set the fastest lap of the race two laps before the chequered flag.

Beyond the racing, what is perhaps more telling is the fact that the previously all-conquering Red Bulls are starting to look quite mortal after all. Vettel still holds a commanding lead in the drivers championship, 77 points ahead of second-placed Webber, but if the last two races are anything to go by, it’s going to be a very interesting run to the end of the season. Has the RBR juggernaut finally been derailed? Next weekend’s race in Hungary should provide more clues.

You can check out the full results here.