July 7th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Sebastian Vettel has taken his 30th career victory and fourth win of 2013 at the Nurburgring in Germany. Vettel triumphed after a tight battle with the Lotus pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Fernando Alonso finished fourth for Ferrari ahead of Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes.
At the start, Vettel swept past pole-sitter Hamilton into the lead, followed by Mark Webber in the second Red Bull. Hamilton struggled for grip thorughout the race, and was out of contention for victory quite early on. Webber was the victim of pitstop drama, when his right-rear tyre was not properly attached to his Red Bull and came off the car as he pulled away from his pit box. The tyre hit a cameraman in the pitlane, who was fortunate to escape injury. Webber had to stop his car and wait for the Red Bull mechanics to push him back to the pit box where they re-fitted his tyre and sent him on his way.
Later in the race, Webber was to benefit from the retirement of Marussia's Jules Bianchi, who coasted to a halt before the final hairpin with smoke billowing from his blown engine. Bianchi got out of his car quickly, as the exhaust was on fire, the marshals quickly doused the flames and then Bianchi's car rolled across the track all by itself. The safety car had to be deployed while the car was cleared away, which helped Webber as he was able to unlap himself behind the safety car.
Webber fought his way back up to seventh by the end of the race, but will be disappointed nonetheless as he had the pace to win the race if not for the pitstop drama.
Lotus were mcuh stronger in the race than they have been at recent events. Grosjean and Raikkonen each led the race at different points, due to differing tyre strategies. Grosjean made his final pitstop before Raikkonen, which caused Vettel to respond by pitting on the next lap. That left Raikkonen out in the lead, which he kept until making his final pitstop with 10 laps remaining. Raikkonen put on a set of the quicker soft tyres for his final stint and then set about chasing down Grosjean and Vettel.
Grosjean was told by Lotus to make life easy for Raikkonen, which he duly did, letting his team-leader past with a few laps to go. Raikkonen then went after Vettel, and managed to get within DRS range of the leader in the last couple of laps. But Vettel was quick enough to hold Raikkonen off and managed to stay in front to the end.
It was a good day for McLaren. Jenson Button finished sixth with Perez eighth in a rare double-points finish for the team this season. Nico Hulkenberg managed to finish tenth for Sauber for the second race in succession, earning his team another vital championship point. Williams suffered disappointment with pitstop troubles for Maldonado at both of his stops, with sticking right-front tyres costing him a possible points finish.
Vettel has now extended his championship lead to 34 points over Fernando Alonso, with Kimi Raikkonen a further 7 points behind in third place. Mercedes have maintained their second place in the Constructors' Championship but are now just three points ahead of Ferrari. Red Bull have a comfortable 67 point lead at the top of the table.