Vettel finally secures victory on home soil
Reuters In Nuerburgring
World champion Sebastian Vettel was pushed all the way but finally tasted Formula One victory on home soil yesterday in a German Grand Prix that sent him 34 points clear of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
Championship rival Kimi Raikkonen was second for Lotus, only a second adrift, after a late tyre change left him hunting down the Red Bull in a thrilling final few laps while teammate Romain Grosjean was third.
Alonso, who started eighth on an adventurous tyre strategy, finished fourth. The Spaniard now has 123 points to Vettel's 157 after nine of 19 races. Raikkonen has 116.
There were none of the explosive tyre failures that raised safety fears at last weekend's race in Britain, with the subsequent threat of a driver boycott, but there were still moments of concern on a hot afternoon at the Nuerburgring.
A stray wheel from Mark Webber's car injured a cameraman in the pitlane, costing Red Bull a £30,000 euro (HK$3 million) fine from the FIA while, on track, Jules Bianchi's car momentarily caught fire and then rolled towards oncoming traffic after the Frenchman had scrambled out.
That incident brought out the safety car but Vettel hung on for his 30th grand prix win.
The triple champion had never won in Germany or in July but, days after his 26th birthday and a week after mechanical failure forced an agonising retirement at Silverstone, ripped up the statistics to the delight of thousands of flagwaving fans. "Thank you boys, that was a tough one. They gave me a run for my money. Yes, yes, yes and yes again," he shouted over the radio.
He later said: "I'm very happy the race ended at 60 laps not 61 or 62."
Fernando Alonso, who like Raikkonen had quicker tyres than Vettel in the closing stages after starting on mediums, chased Grosjean home.
The main drama happened in the first 25 laps of the race.
Both Red Bulls jumped polesitter Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes at the start, coming close at the first corner but avoiding contact, and Vettel took command from Australian Mark Webber.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa also got past Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo into sixth place but spun at the same tricky turn one at the start of the third lap and, with the engine cutting out, had to retire.