Sebastian Vettel has revealed that there was no plan to his third and final-pit stop other than trying to retain the lead of his home grand prix.

The German had been in front for the majority of the race, having jumped poleman Lewis Hamilton at the start, but came under increasing pressure from both Lotus drivers as the Nurburgring event wore on. The black cars appeared easier on their tyres than the leader's Red Bull, but Romain Grosjean was the first to blink as the race headed into its closing stages, stopping for fresh set of Pirelli's medium compound tyres with a third of the race to run.

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Prior to that, there had been suggestions that perhaps the Frenchman would try and stretch his second set to the end in a bid to outlast Vettel and claim a maiden F1 win, but even the frugal Lotus team realised that that wasn't going to be possible.

One lap later, Vettel was summoned for his final stop, also taking on the mediums given the distance still to run. That allowed Kimi Raikkonen to assume the lead and, again, the Finn's run prompted suggestions that he could nurse his tyres to the flag, as he done en route to victory in the Melbourne season-opener. However, a frantic exchange over the - admittedly intermittent - Lotus intercom eventually saw Raikkonen heading in - but for a set of softs that could theoretically be the difference between first and second place.

Dealing easily with team-mate Grosjean - who did not make it difficult for a driver he was reminded was 'on a different strategy' - Raikkonen gradually chipped away at Vettel's lead, eventually reducing it to a single second and picking up DRS assistance on the final lap.

Fortunately for Vettel, the pace bonus wasn't quite enough to bridge the gap before the chequer came out, although the German subsequently conceded that he relieved the race hadn't been over 62 laps...

Asked whether the call to pit immediately after Grosjean had been designed to cover the threat from the Frenchman, however, Vettel initially insisted that there had been no hidden agenda.

"No, I don't think it was the plan," he revealed after the race, "The tyres were holding up okay and the gap to Romain was increasing a little bit again at that time.

"Just before the stop, for a couple of laps, I lost KERS, [although] I was able to switch it back on and pull away again. But, obviously, I think we try to cover him to make sure we stayed ahead and we could defend the lead because we saw that overtaking is quite tricky here.

"It's possible - I went through traffic pretty quickly - but, obviously, there was a big delta in speed, in pace, at that time so, yeah, in order to make sure we stayed ahead, we tried to cover him. We had a little bit of a cushion, but Lotus was incredibly quick today and definitely gave us a big run for our money. I'm just very happy that it worked out."

Vettel also praised Pirelli for the way it had reacted to the previous weekend's dramas at Silverstone, even if the mandatory switch to different tyres had not gone down well with everyone, including Lotus.

"They did a very, very good job within a couple of days to react and bring a different rear tyre to this event," the German concluded, "We didn't have any failures throughout the whole weekend, so compliments to them. They had a lot of criteria after the last race, but it looked like they made up for it this race - and, hopefully, for the next races, we can continue to have racing like that."