Sebastian Vettel has finally secured his maiden victory on home soil
Sebastian Vettel has finally secured his maiden victory on home soil, after an eventful 60-lap German Grand Prix around the iconic Nurburgring circuit. The German sensation only just managed to hold off the charging Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen, with the Finn?s team-mate a close 3rd after a superlative race performance.
Despite securing an impressive pole position for Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton suffered a disastrous start as he was pounced upon by the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber from both sides down into Turn 1. Local hero Sebastian Vettel assumed the lead, with team-mate Mark Webber 2nd after a surprisingly strong start. As the opening lap of the race ensued, many battles raged up and down the order, with both of the McLarens? and Force Indias? battling hard down into Turn 1.
Felipe Massa?s race last only three laps, before the Brazilian driver spun out at Turn 1 in peculiar fashion. With speculation ripe over his future with Ferrari, an embarrassing retirement was not what the 32-year-old required. After only four laps many midfield drivers? began diving into the pits, including Paul di Resta and Jean-Eric Vergne. The Force India mechanics dangerously released the Scotsman after servicing his car, right into the path of Jean-Eric Vergne. The incident would be investigated after the race, as Lewis Hamilton elected to pit on Lap 5 in a bid to perfect the ?undercut? on the Red Bull duo who had robbed him at the start.
Race leader Sebastian Vettel immediately responded to Lewis Hamilton?s actions, with the German driver plunging into the pits and therefore gifting the lead to team-mate Mark Webber. On Lap 8 horror struck in the pit-lane, as Mark Webber came in for his stop from the lead. As the Australian driver left his pit-box, his right-rear tyre worked its way loose and shot into the direction of the pit crew. The tyre then slammed into the back of an unsuspecting cameraman, hitting him on the head. The cameraman in question immediately received medial attention, and it was later confirmed he was suffering from concussion and chest pains.
As the panic ensued in the pits, Mark Webber was wheeled back into the pit-box and then re-released, a lap down and plum last. Meanwhile Romain Grosjean had assumed the lead of the race, as Sebastian Vettel scythed his way through the drivers? who had yet to pit and back up to 3rd by Lap 11. Whereas the German looked to return to the front of the pack, Lewis Hamilton was frustratingly held up by team-mate Nico Rosberg. The German was eventually instructed to allow his team-mate through, with the German yet to pit in the Mercedes.
Fernando Alonso pitted from 2nd position on Lap 12, therefore releasing Sebastian Vettel to hunt down Romain Grosjean who was still producing impressive lap times at the front. However, the Frenchman soon pitted a lap later, allowing the local favorite to resume his lead at the front. With Jenson Button yet to make his first pit stop, the former World Champion found himself in 2nd position, but was soon overtaken by the charging Romain Grosjean who looked impressively quick in the Lotus.
After momentarily holding up Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg pitted from 4th position. However, Lewis Hamilton?s pace of the previous day simply seemed to evaporate in the opening stages of the race, as Kimi Raikkonen stormed around the outside of firstly Nico Rosberg and then the 2008 World Champion with considerable ease. Jenson Button finally pitted from 3rd on Lap 21, releasing Kimi Raikkonen before Lewis Hamilton elected to pit again with Mercedes? tyre woes returning with vengeance.
Jules Bianchi?s race was brought to a fiery and premature conclusion on Lap 23, with the Frenchman?s Marussia suffering a spectacular engine failure which saw a fierce oil fire briefly erupt towards the rear of his car. The 23-year-old quickly removed himself from the car, however the car then proceeded to roll casually down the back straight and across the circuit, forcing the safety car to be deployed as the marshals strove to clear the stricken car in comical fashion.
As soon as the safety car was deployed almost the entire field immediately elected to pit, including the leading trio of Sebastian Vettel, Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen. Jean-Eric Vergne was forced into a second consecutive retirement under the safety car conditions, with the Toro Rosso driver suffering from a hydraulics issue. The race was eventually resumed on Lap 29, as Sebastian Vettel continued to lead at the front ahead of the Lotus duo. However, the Red Bull ace struggled to open up a gap to Romain Grosjean, who continued to catch the reigning Champion as rumors emerged that he had lost KERS.
Despite catching Sebastian Vettel and swarming all over the rear of his Red Bull, Romain Grosjean failed to perfect an overtaking maneuver and eventually pitted for new tyres on Lap 40. This released Kimi Raikkonen, who soon assumed the lead of the race as Sebastian Vettel pitted to defend against Romain Grosjean?s renewed pace on new tyres. The German remained ahead of the Frenchman upon exiting the pit-lane, as Kimi Raikkonen remained out in the lead. Whilst Kimi Raikkonen still continued to produce consistently quick times at the front, Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean began working their way through the drivers who had yet to pit including Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes in 4th.
The initial pole man soon pitted once again, as did Jenson Button who therefore released Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean into the path of race leader Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, who many were beginning to think would remain out on the circuit until the end of the race. However, both Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso elected to pit on Lap 49, with both drivers electing for Pirelli?s soft tyre compound. This created a thrilling climax to the German Grand Prix, as Kimi Raikkonen hunted down team-mate Romain Grosjean and race leader Kimi Raikkonen.
Eventually the Frenchman was instructed to let the Finn through, a team order Romain Grosjean dutifully adhered to. As Kimi Raikkonen hunted down Sebastian Vettel for the lead of the race, Fernando Alonso began catching Romain Grosjean for 3rd. However, the top four positions remained unchanged as Sebastian Vettel stormed across the line to secure his first ever victory on home soil, becoming the first German driver to do so since Michael Schumacher back in 2006.
The reigning Champion?s fourth victory of the season has enabled him to extend his lead in the Drivers? Championship to 34 points over Fernando Alonso, who in turn remains ahead of Kimi Raikkonen by only seven points. The sport will reconvene in several weeks time around Budapest?s Hungaroring, for the 28th running of the Hungarian Grand Prix, another race Sebastian Vettel has yet to win.
Author: Andy Young
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