Sebastian Vettel held off a dramatic late charge from Kimi Raikkonen to take his maiden German Grand Prix victory after an incident-packed race at the Nurburgring that saw a photographer hit by a tyre in the pit lane.
A good day for Lotus saw Romain Grosjean take third place from Fernando Alonso but Lewis Hamilton’s medium compound tyres again experienced high levels of graining and he could only manage fifth after taking compatriot Jenson Button on the final lap. Victory for Vettel means that he now leads the drivers’ standing by 34 points from Alonso with Raikkonen 41 points behind the German.
Hamilton began the race from pole position but was squeezed out by the Red Bulls of Vettel and Mark Webber at the start. Felipe Massa’s race came to a premature end after a spin and a stall, the leaders coming in to switch from their soft qualifying compound to the medium rubber four laps later.
But Webber’s pit stop proved a disaster, his right rear tyre becoming detached before collecting a camera man. Webber was able to rejoin the race and eventually finished a superb seventh although the condition of the unfortunate photographer remains unclear.
With the Mercedes tyres again proving their achilles heel in the longer runs, it soon became clear that Hamilton would not be able to keep his rivals at bay, both Raikkonen and Grosjean streaming past him before setting about Vettel’s Red Bull.
Vettel looked to have the gap managed until a bizarre incident on lap 25 saw Jules Bianchi’s pilotless Marussia freewheel back across the circuit after he had retired in a plume of smoke and fire. A safety car period followed, once again bunching up the pack.
Raikkonen briefly looked as though he might go to the end of the race on a two stopper but he had to pit late on for a final set of soft compound rubber, Grosjean letting his team-mate past to have a late crack at Vettel.
And although he closed to within a second on the final lap, Vettel held out for a deserved victory.
Pos Driver Team 1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 3. Grosjean Lotus-Renault 4. Alonso Ferrari 5. Hamilton Mercedes 6. Button McLaren-Mercedes 7. Webber Red Bull-Renault 8. Perez McLaren-Mercedes 9. Rosberg Mercedes 10. Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 11. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes 12. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 13. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 14. Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 15. Maldonado Williams-Renault 16. Bottas Williams-Renault 17. Pic Caterham-Renault 18. van der Garde Caterham-Renault 19. Chilton Marussia-Cosworth DNF. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari DNF. Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth DNF. Massa Ferrari