|Just a week after the controversial British Grand Prix, Formula 1 got into consecutive week action for round nine’s German Grand Prix at the Nordschleife Nurburgring. Championship leader and domestic driver Sebastien Vettel made no mistakes this time to finish tops ahead of the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.|
Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton completed the German race in fifth place, failing to make the podium again despite a favorable qualifying position.
Vettel’s fourth victory of the season at the Nuerburgring saw him extend his Drivers’ standings points lead to 34 to Fernando Alonso and 41 to Raikkonen. “I’m happy the race wasn’t two or three laps longer, as Kimi (Raikkonen) was a bit quicker towards the end. I’m very happy that it worked out and it’s very special,” Vettel said in post-race. “I had a good start and then just focused on every single lap during the race. You don’t really think about where you are while you are racing, you can’t allow your mind to drift, but when the flag came out and the race was over I really let myself enjoy the parade lap and saw a lot of people in the grandstands cheering and waving flags.”
Red Bull Racing consolidates the top spot in the Constructors’ and is 67 points up on Mercedes, followed by Ferrari and Lotus.
The stage was set for 60 laps around the legendary Nordschleife with Pirelli apparently coming to grips on the blown tyre issue; no problems in the practice and qualifying sessions. For the German race, Pirelli supplied the teams with reinforced Kevlar rear tyres.
At the start, both Red Bull cars of Vettel and Webber blasted off the grid in front of pole man Hamilton. Barely into turn 1, the Red Bulls and Mercedes went side by side and it was the Red Bulls nudging ahead of the Mercedes. Felipe Massa grabbed sixth from Daniel Ricciardo, with team mate Alonso eighth and the McLarens Button ninth and Sergio Perez tenth. On lap 2, Perez would steal ninth from his team mate at turn 1. Two laps later, Massa went out of control and had to retire from the race.
On lap 6, the two Red Bulls were neck to neck at the head of the order. And, the pitstop window had opened early from lap 6. Several drivers elected to swap for new shods early rather than risking blown tyres…perhaps. Vettel pitted from the lead on lap 8 and retook the track in seventh just ahead of the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg. Both Webber and Raikkonen did tyre swaps on lap 9, but Webber’s stop had an unpleasant commotion – his RB8’s right rear tyre came off and hit a nearby cameraman. That incident delayed his race proceedings as the Australian rejoined the race in dead last.
On lap 11, Vettel managed to climb up to third place after he dispatched Button at turn 1. A little behind, sixth place runner Rosberg led from team mate Hamilton and Raikkonen who pursued Hamilton hard. Rosberg continued to hold back his team mate for position. On lap 14, Grosjean who led the race came in for his stop and the Lotus driver retook the track in third place. At this point, Hamilton managed to pass his team mate for sixth. Raikkonen, too, closed in on the second Mercedes and looked to pounce at any time. Grosjean had made it up to second on lap 15, thanks to a fastest lap around the Nurburgring.
Hamilton pressured the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg for fourth on lap 17, but the Sauber had yet to stop. After the Sauber stopped, Raikkonen beat Hamilton to the punch for fourth place at a chicane on lap 18. Alonso, who had climbed to sixth on lap 20, was next to chase Hamilton for position. The Ferrari driver only got ahead on lap 23 when Hamilton stopped for the second time.
On lap 23, the stricken Marussia of Jules Bianchi on track brought out the safety car. Vettel decided to stop for new shods on lap 25 during the SC period. When the SC finally pitted on lap 30, Vettel took charge of his home race as he got away cleanly from the pack. At the back of the field, Webber had gained some grounds. Up front, Vettel had two Lotus hot on his heels, but Grosjean and Raikkonen couldn’t quite make up grounds as the race approached the halfway point.
The Ferrari of Alonso, running fourth on lap 39, made up lap times on the leaders. A lap later, second place runner Grosjean dived into the pitlane for new tyres. That released Raikkonen who chased down the race leader. Vettel then came in on lap 42 and that allowed Raikkonen to assume the race lead momentarily. The Red Bull retook the track behind Hamilton’s Mercedes, and the Mercedes driver then intentionally made it difficult for Vettel to get through until lap 45 when Vettel swiped past at turn 3. Hamilton would pit for the third time on lap 47 as the top three were Raikkonen, Vettel and Grosjean.
On lap 48, Raikkonen who had yet to pit tried to push the distance on his worn-out tyres. But, the Iceman decided not to risk it and came in on lap 50. Vettel reclaimed the race lead as the lead Lotus returned to the pitlane, but he had the second Lotus of Grosjean hot on his tracks. Hamilton shot past Pastor Maldonado’s Williams for seventh on lap 51. Meanwhile, Webber had climbed all the way up to eighth on lap 55.
The race leader dealt with the backmarkers quite easily, while Raikkonen and Grosjean swapped positions for second and third respectively. Alonso pursued Grosjean hard on lap 56, but couldn’t quite make the cut. Furtherback, Hamilton made up another position for Button’s fifth place on lap 58. On the penultimate lap, Raikkonen had came up to close proximity to Vettel, but it was a little too late eventhough DRS had been activated. Vettel stormed across the finish line for his fourth win of the season, followed by Raikkonen, Grosjean, Alonso, Hamilton, Button, Webber who outdashed Perez at the final corner for seventh, Rosberg and Hulkenberg.
The circus next moves to the Grand Prix of Hungary at Budapest from 26 – 28 July.
2013 Formula 1 German Grand Prix results
1 Sebastian Vettel RBR 1:41:14.711
2 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus +1.0 secs
3 Romain Grosjean Lotus +5.8 secs
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +7.7 secs
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +26.9 secs
6 Jenson Button McLaren +27.9 secs
7 Mark Webber RBR +37.5 secs
8 Sergio Perez McLaren +38.3 secs
9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +46.8 secs
10 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber +49.8 secs
11 Paul di Resta Force India +53.7 secs
12 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso +56.9 secs
13 Adrian Sutil Force India +57.7 secs
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +60.1 secs
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams +61.9 secs
16 Valtteri Bottas Williams +1 Lap
17 Charles Pic Caterham +1 Lap
18 Giedo van der Garde Caterham +1 Lap
19 Max Chilton Marussia +1 Lap
1 Sebastian Vettel 157
2 Fernando Alonso 123
3 Kimi Räikkönen 116
4 Lewis Hamilton 99
5 Mark Webber 93
6 Nico Rosberg 84
7 Felipe Massa 57
8 Romain Grosjean 41
9 Paul di Resta 36
10 Jenson Button 33
11 Adrian Sutil 23
12 Sergio Perez 16
13 Jean-Eric Vergne 13
14 Daniel Ricciardo 11
15 Nico Hulkenberg 7
1 RBR 250
2 Mercedes 183
3 Ferrari 180
4 Lotus 157
5 Force India59
6 McLaren 49
7 Toro Rosso 24
8 Sauber 7