Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull secured his first career victory on home soil at the German Grand Prix to extend his lead in the Formula One world championship.
Lotus drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean finished second and third in yesterday’s 60-lap race at the Nuerburgring. It was the fourth win from nine races this season for Vettel, 26, and the 30th of his career.
Vettel, who started second on the grid, and teammate Mark Webber overtook pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes at the start. The German, seeking his fourth straight drivers’ title, went on to control the race and held off a sustained challenge from Raikkonen in the closing stages to win by a second.
“Kimi was pushing very hard at the end,” Vettel said after his first-ever win in the month of July. “Incredible to finally win in Germany. I’m very happy that the race ended after 60 laps and not 61 or 62.”
After losing ground at the start, Hamilton was troubled by lack of grip as he tried to get his first win for Mercedes since switching this season from McLaren.
A round of pit stops took place after four laps as leading drivers switched from their faster, soft tires. Grosjean stayed out longer than many and led for a time until he too pitted, although he resumed the race in second place.
Pirelli & C. SpA (PC) supplied strengthened tires for the race and there was no repeat of the blowouts that marred the British Grand Prix a week previously. Drivers had threatened to boycott the race if there was a reoccurrence.
Webber had a problem with his right rear wheel in an early stop. It flew off the axle and bounced down the pit lane into the back of a television cameraman, who was taken to the hospital with a broken shoulder and cracked ribs.
“The most important thing is that the cameraman who got struck by the tire does not appear to have suffered any life threatening injuries,” Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said in a statement. “It’s a timely reminder that working in the pit lane is dangerous.”
Another incident occurred after Jules Bianchi’s Marussia had an engine blowout. After he got out of the car it stood parked at the side before rolling across the track and hitting an advertising board. That brought the safety car on to the track after 25 laps and prompted a series of pit stops as the field closed up.
On the withdrawal of the safety car, Vettel led from Grosjean, Raikkonen and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, and that pattern was maintained after another round of pit stops.
One of those stops was by Raikkonen, who was leading at the time. The Finn said afterward that he could have gambled by staying out and trying to manage the tires until the finish.
“I wonder if we should have gone to the end,” he added. “But I had massive problems with the radio. I could hear the team but they couldn’t hear me.”
Four laps from the finish, Grosjean let his teammate Raikkonen -- who’s better placed in the standings -- through to take second spot behind Vettel. As the race entered its final laps only five seconds covered the first four cars.
Raikkonen stepped up the pressure, ready to take advantage of any mistake by Vettel, although the German held out for the victory.
Alonso finished in fourth place, ahead of Hamilton, McLaren’s Jenson Button and Webber.
The win lifted Vettel to 157 points atop the standings, 34 ahead of Alonso (123). Raikkonen has 116, Hamilton 99 and Webber 93. Red Bull leads the constructors’ event on 250 points, ahead of Mercedes (183), Ferrari (180), and Lotus (157).
The Hungarian Grand Prix, the 10th of 19 races this season, is scheduled July 28 in Budapest.
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