July 7th, 2013 (F1plus/R.Creed).- Sebastian Vettel took a fantastic home victory despite being chased by both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. The two Lotuses took second and third as a differing strategy allowed Fernando Alonso to take fourth. There was drama as a cameraman was caught by Mark Webber's lose wheel and a rolling Marussia brought out the safety car.
Sebastian Vettel took an emphatic victory in front of a home crowd. The German held off a strong challenge in the closing laps from a fast charging Kimi Raikkonen having withstood pressure from Raikkonen's teammate Romain Grosjean earlier in the race. Vettel led from the first lap and won by just over a second.
Teammate Mark Webber had started third but climbed one place on lap one for a Red Bull 1-2 in the early laps. His chances of a podium ended after his first pit stop when he was released from his pitstop without the right rear tyre secured. The tyre flew off hitting a cameraman who had to me taken to the medical centre. Webber was a lap down when he rejoined but the safety car period allowed him to recover to seventh to allow Red Bull to take a double points finish. The team were later fined for an unsafe release.
Both Lotuses finished on the podium with a second and third place finish. Kimi Raikkonen had challenged Vettel in the closing laps and believed he could have won had he not had to pit again. The safety car had allowed the Finn to close up on Vettel from 12 seconds down on the leader but it was not enough to challenge for the win.
Romain Grosjean had challenged Vettel earlier in the race but could not within the DRS zone to attempt an overtake. The safety car led to him having to pit but Raikkonen was able to leapfrog Grosjean. Grosjean held on to third despite pressure from Fernando Alonso in the closing laps.
A day of mixed fortunes for Ferrari. After choosing to run on mediums in qualifying Fernando Alonso climbed from eighth to fourth. The Spaniard was challenging Grosjean for the last podium spot in the closing laps but did not have enough to pass him. His teammate Felipe Massa's day ended prematurely after he spun out on lap four at the first corner. The BrazilIan driver had been in sixth place after starting seventh on the medium tyres.
Lewis Hamilton was passed but both Red Bulls having started from pole position. The race didn't get much better after he was running behind late stoppers Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button. Hamilton was sixth in the closing laps but managed to pass Button on the last lap to finish fifth. Nico Rosberg started 11 th and struggled to make much progress. He ended the day in plinth place ahead of fellow countryman Hulkenberg.
Germany seemed to signal a turning point in McLaren's less than impressive season. Having qualified a strong ninth Button ran high up in the order on medium tyres. After pitting he stuck to his strategy to finish a strong seventh after being passed by Hamilton on the last lap. Sergio Perez finished a strong eighth for a double points finish for the British team. Perez had started 13th. Button was unhappy with the backmakers Caterham who he suggested led to him being overtaken by Hamilton on the last lap.
Sauber made a rare appearance in Q3 of qualifying on Saturday after a fantastic effort by Hulkenberg in Q2. The team decided not to run in Q3 and started on the medium compound tyre. Hulkenberg started strongly and ran high up until his first pitstop. He kept ahead of the Force India of Paul di Resta to finish where he started in tenth to take he final point of the day.
Esteban Guttierrez also had a better qualifying session but started on an opposing strategy to Hulkenberg on the soft tyres. He had a steady race to finish 14th but was fighting throughout to hold position. Whether or not this is a return to form for the team amid its financial problems only time will tell.
A disappointing weekend all round for the team. They struggled in qualifying with both drivers failing to make Q2. Paul di Resta started 12th whilst Adrian Sutil started 15th. Both failed to make much progress with Di Resta ending the day in 11th and Sutil 13th. Sutil struggled with tyres and had to be switched from a two stop to a three stop strategy. The team were later fined for an unsafe pit release of Di Resta into the path of Jean Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso.
A strong qualifying result did not help Daniel Ricciardo during the race. Despite starting sixth on the grid Ricciardo struggled early in the race and found himself back in the midfield fighting for position. He ended the day a disappointing 12th. Jean-Eric Vergne also had a day to forget - he retired on lap 22 with a hydraulic problem. Early in the race he had to taking avoiding action after Paul di Resta was unsafely released in his path during a pit stop. Force India were later fined.
Williams' 600th Grand Prix start was a disappointing affair for the team. A bad Saturday saw both drivers miss Q2 but things had looked slightly better in the race. Both Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas battled it out among the midfield. They ran better than in previous races this year but could only manage 15th and 16th by the end of the race. They would have hoped for better for such a momentous weekend.
Both Caterham drivers finished the race ahead of the Marussias. Charles Pic ended the day in 17th after a close fight with his teammate Giedo van der Garde . Van der Garde went on to finish 18th. Jenson Button later complained that the two Caterhams had hindered his race in the closing laps leading to Lewis Hamilton passing him on the final lap.
Jules Bianchi's retirement on lap 24 led to the only safety car of the day. Bianchi ground to a halt on lap 22 his car momentarily catching fire and after the Frenchman had left the car it began to roll down a hill and across the track. The marshals had not yet had a chance to recover the car. Max Chilton was unable to make any progress and finished behind the two Caterhams.