Sebastian Vettel found the perfect way to respond to the disappointment of losing victory in the closing stages at Silverstone, winning his home race for the first time.
The German appeared to have the British Grand Prix
in the bag when his car ground to a halt with transmission problems just eleven laps from home, and victory at the Nurburgring
didn't come without its own headaches, but the three-time world champion was not only able to scratch another race and venue from his 'to do' list, but also ended the hoodoo that had previously prevented him from winning in the month of July.
Vettel's ambitions received a major boost as the lights went out, resisting a squeeze from polesitter Lewis Hamilton
and a brave move from an equally fast-starting Mark Webber
to emerge from turn one in front. From there, he was able to retain the advantage, but not for the want of trying, particularly from the Lotus team.
With both Red Bulls having got ahead of Hamilton, Webber was Vettel's initial challenger, the Australian clearly enjoying the feel of his RB9 around one of his favourite circuits. The threat was removed, however, with only eight laps on the board when Webber, who had briefly inherited the lead when Vettel made his first pit-stop, had his switch from soft to medium Pirellis go horribly wrong.
While RBR turned Vettel around in the fastest time to that point, Webber was signalled to leave even as the mechanics struggled to fit his right-rear wheel. Notwithstanding the potential for injury to his crew, the Australian would have seen his errant wheel overtake him, before striking an FOM cameraman standing, oblivious to the drama, further down pit-lane….
Webber's pit-stop had promoted Romain Grosjean
to the lead, and the Frenchman did what he could to stretch the gap back to Vettel as he pushed his soft Pirellis to lap 13 – fully six more than the world champion. Despite setting a rapid pace, Grosjean's efforts proved to be in vain as he rejoined in third, with Jenson Button
– who went as far as anyone on his first stint having started on the mediums – between the pacesetters.
Grosjean made short work of the McLaren
and, once again, began eating into Vettel's advantage. His cause was aided by a bizarre incident on lap 23 when Jules Bianchi's abandoned Marussia – which had been sidelined by a spectacular engine failure – began rolling back down the hill leading to the chicane. Fortunately, as with the incident involving the cameraman, there were no serious human cost, but the safety car was scrambled to effect a second rescue attempt, allowing the leaders to make a free pit-stop under caution.
Although Vettel then got the jump at the lap 30 restart, both Grosjean and the chasing Kimi Raikkonen
were able to match the German's lap times, and gradually began to edge closer, although neither was able to make the subsequent DRS assistance work in their favour. Despite optimistic suggestions that Grosjean may try to run to the end on his third set of tyres, he pitted on lap 40 – still 20 laps shy of his target – and fitted another set of the mediums in a bid to out-last his rival – only for Red Bull
to pit Vettel next time around.