• German Grand Prix

Vettel holds off Raikkonen for home win

ESPN Staff
July 7, 2013
Sebastian Vettel had never previously won on home soil or in the month of July © Sutton Images
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Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel held off a strong challenge from Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus to win the German Grand Prix for the first time.

Having led from the first corner, Vettel came under intense pressure at the end of the race, first from Romain Grosjean and then Raikkonen late on, but he had enough pace to keep the Lotus pair at bay to win by just one second. Grosjean faded slightly towards the end but still finished third ahead of Fernando Alonso's Ferrari.

Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber's challenge ended at his first pit stop when an error from Red Bull saw him leave his pit box with a loose right rear wheel. The wheel detached and struck an FOM cameraman - who broke his collar bone and was taken to Koblenz hospital to be kept under observation - leaving Webber a lap down when he rejoined.

A safety car period bunched up the pack as Jules Bianchi's Marussia dangerously rolled backwards down the track after he had retired with a spectacular engine failure. That allowed Webber to recover to seventh behind Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, but he remains under investigation for an unsafe release. Webber passed Sergio Perez for seventh place on the final lap, with the second McLaren finishing ahead of Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg.

At the star the two Red Bulls beat Hamilton into the first corner, but as predicted had to make an early pit stop to ditch the fast-degrading soft compound. Vettel came in on lap seven and Webber a lap later, and it was at that stop that his wheel was not attached properly. Grosjean was the star of the first stint as he eked 13 laps out of his soft tyres, which allowed him to jump to second ahead of Hamilton and team-mate Raikkonen, who had both pitted earlier.

Grosjean then set about reeling in Vettel while Raikkonen remained in a fight with Hamilton, who was rather rudely held up by his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg on a different strategy. However, in the heat and on a track with several severe traction zones, Mercedes' rear tyre issues re-emerged and Hamilton was unable to resist Raikkonen heading into the final chicane on lap 18.

Raikkonen was some 10 seconds off the lead pair at that stage, but the safety car to clear Bianchi's rolling Marussia allowed him to get back into the game. The safety car came in at the end of lap 29, leaving half the race for Grosjean and Raikkonen to attempt to pass Vettel. At this stage Vettel was struggling with a KERS issue and had to shift his brake bias backwards to compensate for the lost resistance on the rear axle. Grosjean was able to close within a second, but it became clear that if Lotus wanted to find a way past Red Bull they would have to employ strategy.

Grosjean became the pawn in this high-speed chess match and was called into the pits for a new set of tyres much earlier than he needed them. Vettel and Red Bull, who still had to make another stop, were forced to react to avoid Grosjean undercutting him and a lap later the No.1 Red Bull entered the pits. Raikkonen was then let loose in the lead and had two options: 1. Try to make the end of the race on his current set, which would require a risky 36-lap stint; or 2. Make a late pit stop to take on fresh tyres and attack the leader. Lotus opted for option two and Raikkonen pitted with ten laps remaining for a set of soft tyres.

He rejoined in third place, behind Grosjean, and roughly four seconds off Vettel. Grosjean was then told to move over and let Raikkonen and his fresher tyres through but, fully aware of his role in the wider strategy, he appeared to show some resistance and Raikkonen lost some crucial time. Five laps from the end Grosjean finally let Raikkonen by and the Finn was free to mount his challenge on Vettel.

He got within DRS range on the final lap, but it was too little too late and he crossed the line a second behind Vettel. After the race Lotus team principal said he felt it was a case of "first place lost" rather than second place gained and that his team had the fastest race car on race day. Grosjean came under attack from Alonso at the end of the race, who was on a very similar strategy to Raikkonen, but was able to hold him off to take his place on the podium.

The result sees Vettel extend his lead in the championship to 34 points as the teams head to the midway point of the season in Hungary.

Raikkonen was some 10 seconds off the lead pair at that stage, but the safety car to clear Bianchi's rolling Marussia allowed him back into the game. The safety car came in at the end of lap 29, leaving half the race for Grosjean and Raikkonen to attempt to pass Vettel. At this stage Vettel was struggling with a KERS issue and had to shift his brake bias backwards to compensate for the lost resistance on the rear axle. Grosjean was able to close within a second, but it became clear that if Lotus wanted to find a way past Red Bull they would have to employ strategy.

Grosjean became the pawn in this high-speed chess match and was called into the pits for a new set of tyres much earlier than he needed them. Vettel and Red Bull, who still had to make another stop, were forced to react to avoid the undercut and a lap later the No.1 Red Bull entered the pits. Raikkonen was then let loose and had two options. 1. Try to make the end of the race on his current set, which would require a risky 36-lap stint or 2. Make a late pit stop to take on fresh tyres and attack the leader. Lotus opted for option two and Raikkonen pitted with ten laps remaining for a set of soft tyres.

He rejoined in third place behind Grosjean and roughly four seconds off Vettel. Grosjean was then told to move over and let Raikkonen and his fresher tyres through. Now fully aware of his role in the wider strategy, Grosjean appeared to show some resistance and Raikkonen lost some crucial time behind his team-mate with the laps ticking down. Five laps from the end Grosjean finally let Raikkonen by and the Finn mounted a challenge on Vettel.

He got within DRS range on the final lap, but it was too little too late and he crossed the line a second behind Vettel. After the race Lotus team principal said he felt it was a case of "first place lost" rather than second place gained and that his drivers had the fastest race car on Sunday. Grosjean came under attack from Alonso at the end of the race, who was on a very similar strategy to Raikkonen, but was able to hold him off to take his place on the podium.

The result sees Vettel extend his lead in the championship to 34 points as the teams head to the midway point of the season in Hungary.

© Sutton Images
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