| 8.8°C Dublin

Alonso plays down lead as he's only halfway

FERNANDO ALONSO belittled his Formula One world title lead as meaning "nothing" after taking his 30th career victory.

In becoming the first driver to win three races this year, Alonso finished narrowly ahead of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button in his McLaren at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

Vettel however, was later handed a retrospective drive-through penalty by the stewards that added 20 seconds to his time for exceeding track limits in passing Button on the penultimate lap.

It dropped Vettel back to fifth, with Button elevated to second, Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen to third and Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) a career-best fourth.

Ferrari star Alonso has now opened up a 34-point gap over Mark Webber in his Red Bull, with Vettel a further 10 points adrift after losing eight in the wake of the stewards' ruling.

But at the halfway point of the season, and with Alonso extending his consecutive run of points-scoring finishes to 22 - two shy of Michael Schumacher's record of 24 - the 30-year-old Spaniard far from believes he is in control of the championship.

"Before coming here we were not sure about the performance of the car," said Alonso.

"At halfway through the season we have made a very good recovery when you think of where we started in the Jerez test where we were maybe two seconds off the pace."

"We are very happy with the points we have achieved in the first half, but it means nothing because there are still another 10 races in which we need to improve the car."

Ferrari have closed the gap on Red Bull in the constructors' championship to 53 points, with the team's 219th win in F1 history.