Vettel ends July jinx on home track
Updated: Sunday, 07 Jul 2013 18:06
Sebastian Vettel finally ended his July jinx by claiming victory in the German Grand Prix as he staved off a grandstand finish from Kimi Raikkonen.
Vettel went into his home race at the Nurburgring never having won a race in July in 12 previous attempts during his Formula One career.
But the 26-year-old three-time world champion took the chequered flag by just a second from Raikkonen to open up a 34-point cushion over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso who had to settle for fourth.
Vettel crossed the line just a second ahead of Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, who is now 41 points adrift, with Fernando Alonso 34 behind after the Spaniard could only finish fourth in his Ferrari.
"It's unbelievable, a great relief," said Vettel following the 30th win of his F1 career, and fourth this season.
"When you have a good car and for a couple of years you've had a good run, when you are on home soil people expect you to win.
"So it just feels very, very sweet to have succeeded after a couple of tries.
"Both tracks, Hockenheim and Nurburgring mean a lot to me. To race in Germany, to have a home grand prix, is a privilege.
"So a great relief, I'm very happy, a special day which will take some time to sink in. I'm just incredibly proud."
Lotus' Romain Grosjean completed the podium, although at one stage it appeared as if the Frenchman would grab his first win as he closed to within half a second of Vettel just past the midway point of the 60-lap race.
Instead, it was Raikkonen who was Vettel's main challenger over the closing stages, but with the Finn running out of laps.
As for Lewis Hamilton, he conceded before the race he would be going into it on a wing and prayer given his pole lap was laced with good fortune after issues in practice that resulted in an untried set-up for qualifying.
Off the line Hamilton was slow away, dropping behind the Red Bulls on the short run down to turn one, and from there it was always going to be an uphill struggle.
The sun also shone over the Nurburgring, exacerbating Mercedes' tyre degradation woes, with Hamilton in particular sliding around on his second set that forced an earlier-than-planned second pit stop.
There was a crumb of comfort on the final lap when he passed former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button for fifth, but overall it was a hard day at the office again for the 28-year-old.
"We've clearly a good car, but for some reason it doesn't work in these hot conditions," said Hamilton.
"We'll keep working on it. The positive is we were able to recover to fifth place with a good strategy and great pit stops, and we're still second in the constructors' table.
"Hopefully we'll have a better chance at the next race, but for now there's a lot of hard work ahead of us."
After two races without scoring, McLaren managed to get both cars back in the points again, with Button sixth and team-mate Sergio Perez eighth, the duo either side of Mark Webber.
The Australian was remarkably a lap down early on after a bungled pit stop saw him lose his right-rear wheel as he spun out of the pit box.
Bouncing through the pitlane, it sickeningly struck and floored cameraman Paul Allen, who is currently in Koblenz hospital as he sustained a fractured collarbone and two broken ribs.
The unsafe release earned Red Bull a fine of €30,000.
One other incident saw the engine in Jules Bianchi's Marussia blow and catch fire, forcing the Frenchman to park his car off track.
However, as it was about to be recovered, it rolled down a hill and back across the circuit just as leaders Vettel and Grosjean were approaching.
The car's momentum was eventually halted by an advertising board, bringing out the safety car which ultimately aided Webber's cause as he was able to unlap himself and eventually catch the pack.
Behind Perez were Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg in ninth and 10th for Mercedes and Sauber respectively, the latter passing Force India's Paul Di Resta late on to nudge the Scot out of the points