It has taken him a few years, but Sebastian Vettel has finally won a race on home soil after winning the German Grand Prix.
The race turned into another tyre endurance race with both Lotuses finishing on the podium and Kimi Raikkonen challenging for the win on the final lap.
Further down the field a botched tyre stop by Red Bull sent Mark Webber's right rear tyre into the pit garages injuring a TV cameraman who was later airlifted to hospital. Bizarrely Webber was able to take advantage of a Safety Car and a complete lack of mid-race punishment for the incident to finish seventh.
Polesitter Lewis Hamilton was left complaining of more Mercedes tyre wear problems as track temeprature hit 43C with th Brit finishing back in fifth place behind P4 Alonso.
It was bright sunshine and a zero percent chance of rain at the Nurburgring, with an ambient temperature of 25C and the track at a testingly high 42C.
Grid: 1.Hamilton, 2.Vettel, 3.Webber, 4.Raikkonen, 5.Grosjean, 6.Ricciardo, 7.Massa, 8.Alonso, 9.Button, 10.Hulkenberg, 11.Rosberg, 12.DiResta, 13.Perez, 14.Gutierrez, 15.Sutil, 16.Vergne, 17.Bottas, 18.Maldonado, 19. Bianchi, 20.van der Garde, 21.Chilton, 22.Pic
On the paraede lap it was revealed that Alonso, Massa, Button, Rosberg, Hulkenberg and the two Williams would start on the Medium tyre.
Some of the starts from the GP2 and GP3 races had been excellent from the P2 position and when the red lights went out, so it proved for Sebastian Vettel who got the jump on polesitter Lewis Hamilton going down into Turn 1. Hamilton tried to get the place back, which ultimately dropped him down to P3 as Webber came round his outside into the wide first corner and looked to have a stab at getting the lead. Vettel moved out wide and took the line.
Felipe Massa got another of his demon starts in the Ferrari and team-mate Alonso was also past Ricciardo at one stage before Riciardo beat him in a drag race on traction and held on to P7.
Positions at the end of Lap 1 1.Vettel, 2.Webber, 3.Hamilton, 4.Raikkonen, 5.Grosjean. 6.Massa, 7.Ricciardo, 8.Alonso, 9.Button. 10.Perez, 11.Hulkenberg, 12.Rosberg, 13.Sutil, 14.DiResta.
On Lap 2 the combative Sergio Perez attacked Button into Turn 1 and there was almost another Mclaren coming together as ultimately Button had to give way through the first turn complex of corners and let Perez have his ninth place.
By Lap 3 it looked as though Felipe Massa already had problems with his Ferrari as he had fallen to 2.9 seconds behind Grosjean. On Lap 4 he locked up the rear brakes going into Turn 1 and the car spun to a stop. Massa out of the race with gearbox issues.
On Lap 4 Paul DiResta stopped for a very early switch to Medium tyres along with the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne, the Force India looked like it was released into the path of the Toro Rosso car.
At this stage of the race it was a question how long the Soft tyre runners at the front could last on track, how big a lead they could build up before they had to come in and where they would come out in the pack afterwards. On Lap 5 all the Soft tyre runners were faster than the Medium runners, but Lewis Hamilton decided not to chance it beyond the end of Lap 6. He exited just behind team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Leader Sebastian Vettel pitted at the end of Lap 7, Mark Webber came in at the end of Lap 8 along with Kimi Raikkonen. Vettel's pit-stop was quick, but Webber's was slow and as he was released his right rear tyre came off and bounced into the pits hitting a cameraman. The car came to a halt further down the pitlane and the mechanics retrieved it, wheeled it back, and eventually got the Australian going a lap down. Shockingly, Webber was not brought straight back in for a penalty of unsafe release.
With Raikkonen out of his way, Romain Grosjean, now leading the race, was able to put in some very fast laps. He had been complaining on team radio that Raikkonen had been holding him up, and in the first stint he was able to eke out his tyres much longer than anyone else.
Positions on Lap 9: 1.Grosjean (not stopped), 2.Alonso (not stopped), 3.Button (not stopped), 4.Hulkenberg (not stopped), 5.Vettel, 6.Rosberg (not stopped), 7.Hamilton, 8.Raikkonen, 9.Maldonado (not stopped), 10.Bottas (not stopped), 11.Ricciardo.
On Lap 10 Grosjean was still doing 1:37s and was quicker than all the Medium runners. Vettel began moving towards him and picked off Button on Lap 11 to take P3. Further back Nico Rosberg was getting in the way of his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, which had allowed Kimi Raikkonen to close right up on both of them. An unnecessary own-goal for Mercedes.
Alonso, despite being on the durable Mediums, pitted on Lap 12 and Grosjean came in a lap later. The Frenchman exited still in P2 such was his exceptional early pace on the Soft tyres.
On Lap 14 Rosberg got the message and allowed Hamilton through, but the damage had been done. With those stops the race order took on yet a different complexion.
Positions on Lap 14: 1.Vettel, 2.Grosjean, 3. Button (not stopped), 4.Hulkenberg (not stopped), 5.Hamilton, 6.Raikkonen, 7.Rosberg (not stopped), 8.Alonso, 9.Maldonado (not stopped), 10.Bottas (not stopped), 11.Ricciardo.
Hulkenberg dived into the pits and out of Hamilton's way at the end of Lap 17, but Lewis was busy telling his engineers that he didn't think his tyres were going to last. As if to prove the point, Raikkonen then made a great overtaking move round the outside of the Mercedes into the chicane, one he'd practiced earlier on Rosberg.
Now it was Fernando Alonso on fresher tyres queueing up behind Hamilton. Despite his doubts about the tyres, Lewis then produced some textbook defensive driving to keep the Ferrari at bay from Laps19 through to 22. He drove defensively into the chicane and held off Alonso consistently through the Turns 1-4 complex. Alonso had to work very hard to find a way through, all the while Kimi Raikkonen was disappearing up the road with a five second advantage.
Jenson Button pitted for the first time on Lap 21 and a lap later Hamilton put Alonso out of his misery by coming in for his second set of tyres. Romain Grosjean wasn't letting Vettel get away and was just 1.9 seconds away.
Positions on Lap 23: 1.Vettel, 2.Grosjean, 3.Raikkonen, 4.Alonso, 5.Button, 6.Perez, 7.Hulkenberg, 8. Hamilton (two stops), 9.Sutil, 10.DiResta, 11.Rosberg, 12.Maldonado.
Jules Bianchi had a flame-out in his Cosworth engine unit, as the Marussia pulled to the side of the road in search of friendly fire extinguishers. He got out of the car while the fire was put out, but when marshals came to move the stricken car they nudged it with a tractor before they could secure a toing hitch on the roll hoop. We then had the unique sight of an unmanned car setting off across the circuit like a stray horse in the Grand National.
The Safety Car was deployed to enable the retrieval of the stray Marussia and everyone who needed to pit took advantage. This was virtually everyone with the exception of Button, Hamilton and Maldonado who had just pitted. As a result, Hamilton lost his strategy advantage over the cars in front of him, particularly Alonso.
The Safety Car took from Lap 24 until Lap 29 to get the car out of the way and allow the lapped cars, including Webber, to get back on the lead lap. On Lap 30 we were racing again and Sebastian Vettel reeled off four Fastest Laps on Lap 30, 31, 32 and 33. Both Lotuses were hot on his heels though and on lap 33 he still only had a 1.0 gap top Grosjean.
From Laps 34 to36 it looked like a Lotus overtake was inevitable, but Vettel held Grosjean at bay and from Lap 37 began to edge the gap out again, or at least, manage it so that he wasn't able to be attacked by the Lotus driver.
The front three of Vettel, Grosjean and Raikkonen began to edge clear of Alonso, who was putting a steady gap between himself and fifth place Jenson Button, who still had stopped only once compared to all the cars around him.
To keep Vettel on edge, Lotus decided to split their attack for the last phase of the race and brought Romain Grosjean in for a stop on Lap 40. Would Vettel react to Grosjean or stay out with Kimi?
The answer came a lap later with Vettel in for a set of medium tyres - he rejoined just in front of Grosjean in P5 with Kimi Raikkonen now fifteen seconds down the road in the lead.
Positions on Lap 42: 1.Raikkonen, 2.Alonso, 3.Button (one stop), 4.Hamilton, 5.Vettel, 6.Grosjean, 7.Perez, 8.Maldonado (one stop), 9.Sutil, 10.DiResta, 11.Rosberg, 12.Hulkenberg.
On fresh tyres Vettel and Grosjean were pushing hard and on Lap 45 both got themselves past Lewis Hamilton who immediately pitted for his final time. Two laps later Jenson Button came in for the set of Soft tyres he had to run. Alonso had to stop again because he had yet to run the Soft tyre, but it looked like Lotus were going to run Raikkonen to the end and see if his tyres could last.
Vettel began to edge the gap down but it wasn't at a prolific rate. And then to everyone's surprise (bar the Lotus team) Raikkonen pitted for more tyres at the end of Lap 49 along with Alonso's compulsory final stop. On fresh tyres Hamilton was carving through the field and on Lap 50 was running three abreast down the start/finish straight with Maldonado and DiResta. Hamilton took the position as Maldonado pitted for a very slow Williams pit-stop.
Button, on much fresher tyres, returned the favour on Perez and was up to P5.
Positions on Lap 51: 1.Vettel, 2.Grosjean, 3.Raikkonen, 4.Alonso, 5.Button, 6.Perez, 7.Hamilton, 8.DiResta, 9.Webber, 10.Bottas (one stop), 11.Ricciardo, 12.Rosberg.
On Lap 51 Vettel had a slender 1.8 second lead.
Lewis soon closed on and passed the struggling Perez who wasn't going to stop for more tyres. Raikkonen (on the freshest tyres of the top three) was then allowed to pass team-mate Grosjean to see if he could have a crack at Vettel in the final few laps.
When he took over on Lap 55 of 60 the gap was 2.5 seconds. In the last five laps of the race there were four battles. Vettel vs Raikkonen for P1 - Grosjean vs Alonso for P3 - Button vs Hamilton for P5 - Perez vs Webber for P7.
Raikkonen closed the gap down to Vettel, but couldn't get close enough for a worthwhile lunge on the final lap, Grosjean kept Alonso at bay to keep his podium place, Lewis Hamilton found a way past Button (whose soft tyres were fading fast) at the start of the final lap, and later on in the lap Mark Webber dispossessed Perez of P7.
Vettel crossed the line to take his first home win at the Nurburgring with the two Lotus drivers right behind him. Alonso was fourth but coasted to a halt on the slowing down lap and may have been short of fuel. Hamilton was a depressed fifth bemoaning Mercedes tyre wear again and Button was sixth, unhappy about the Caterham drivers' inability to see blue flags in the closing stages of the race that ultimately cost him fifth place.
It had been a gripping race with concerns expressed afterwards about the injured cameraman airlifted to hospital with a broken shoulder in an incident that, bizarrely, went entirely unpunished during the race.
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:41:14.711
2. Kimi Räikkönen Lotus +1.008
3. Romain Grosjean Lotus +5.830
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +7.721
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +26.927
6. Jenson Button McLaren +27.996
7. Mark Webber Red Bull +37.562
8. Sergio Perez McLaren +38.306
9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +46.821
10. Nico Hülkenberg Sauber +49.892
11. Paul di Resta Force India +53.771
12. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso +56.975
13. Adrian Sutil Force India +57.738
14. Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber +1:00.160
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams +1:01.929
16. Valtteri Bottas Williams +1 Lap
17. Charles Pic Caterham +1 Lap
18. Giedo van der Garde Caterham +1 Lap
19. Max Chilton Marussia +1 Lap
Did not finish20. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso +38 Laps
21. Jules Bianchi Marussia +39 Laps
22. Felipe Massa Ferrari +57 Laps
Race Day At The Nurburgring
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