Sebastian Vettel insisted he was proud of his third place finish in the German Grand Prix, despite failing to convert his pole position into a race win at Hockenheim.
The Red Bull driver qualified at the head of the field but made a poor start which allowed both Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso to get ahead on the run to turn one.
While he was able to stay close to the Ferrari duo ahead, Vettel was never in a position to seriously challenge either driver and was forced to settle for third.
However, Vettel was still happy with a solid podium that keeps him in title contention after outscoring the two McLaren drivers ahead of him in the standings.
“Normally we have very good starts, so I'm not really sure what happened today,” he said. “I had quite a lot of grip, I dumped the clutch, but got bogged down, so the first five to ten metres of the acceleration were poor. I was lucky I didn't stall the engine, but I lost the momentum so I knew that it would be very tight with Fernando who I was already side by side with. There was no way I could stay ahead of him and then I was surprised to see Felipe coming from the left.
“After that we still had a good race. The closer I got to the car in front, I began to feel tyres losing grip and starting to grain, but I think for most of the race the Ferraris were probably a tenth or two quicker than us. It was difficult to keep up the pace. Towards the end we were able to push again a little bit. We finished third and I think we can be proud of that. We achieved our maximum today and I was very pleased to be on the podium. It's very special for me at my home Grand Prix, it's great to see the people here and to be on the podium – to see everyone cheering is very nice and emotional.”
Team-mate Mark Webber meanwhile had to settle for fourth place after losing out in traffic after his pitstop, with the Australian forced to back off to conserve his car in the latter stages of the race.
“I enjoyed the first part of the race and had a good scrap with Lewis,” he said. “He didn't look too comfortable on the option tyre and I was getting held up a bit. When I came in for a pit stop, I thought Lewis might come in at the same time, but he stayed out a lap longer. In the end, the guys did a very good job, but we came back out in traffic.
“It was a little bit of a gamble to try and jump Lewis and we lost a bit of track to him. Jenson tried a different strategy and went longer and unfortunately was able to jump me. After that we had an oil consumption problem, so we had to concentrate on getting the car to the end. I wasn't in the main fight today, but I'll be back. It's competitive at the front and that's how it should be, so we're looking forward to the next race.”