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GP Week : Issue 186
An under pressure sebastian Vettel won the German Grand Prix after an action-packed 60 laps that saw the defending world champion chased down by his likely future teammate. Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton lost out at the start, defending against a two-pronged attack from Vettel and Red Bull teammate Mark Webber that saw the Mercedes driver ‘Zonta’ed into P3 in the approach to the first corner. Hamilton’s attempts at defense cost Kimi Raikkonen the chance of moving up from his starting position, but the Finnish driver held back, avoided causing an incident, and waited to make his move. Behind Vettel, who delivered a faultless performance in front of a devoted home crowd, the race results were impacted by teammates running in pairs, and – intentionally or other wise – hindering each other’s chances of taking the fight to the front. After losing the lead before the first corner, Hamilton made an early pit stop on lap 6, emerging behind Nico Rosberg on fresh medium rubber. It would be the best part of eight laps before the Briton made it past his teammate, his tyres’ peak performance lost in the wake of turbulence generated by the man in the identical car. Rosberg nipped into the pits shortly after being passed by Hamilton, having cost Mercedes an early opportunity to make up the positions lost at the start. A near-identical situation took place between Lotus racers Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean in the closing stages of Sunday’s race. While Grosjean had the advantage over Raikkonen in the first phase of the race, after the Safety Car it was clear that the Finn had more speed, his teammate having lost precious rubber during the five laps spent lapping behind Bernd Maylander. But the Frenchman had the advantage in terms of track position, running in second with his teammate behind in third. The Lotus pair were keeping Vettel under pressure, with Grosjean 1.1 seconds behind the Red Bull, and Raikkonen 0.7 seconds further behind. The strategists on the Lotus pit wall gave Grosjean every opportunity to make his move on Vettel, and the Red Bull brains were paying attention. When Grosjean dived into the pits on lap 40, Vettel covered the Frenchman a lap later, emerging ahead of the Lotus on track. Raikkonen was leading the race, but was certain to stop once more rather than risk losing a swathe of positions should his tyres fall off the cliff in the dramatic fashion that saw the Finn lose out in China in 2012. As Vettel and Grosjean made their way back up to the head of the pack, Raikkonen and Alonso were leading the race. The Ferrari and Lotus entered the pits together at the end of lap 49, emerging behind Vettel and Grosjean. By lap 53, it was clear that Grosjean was not going to be able to make it past Vettel for the win, while Raikkonen – on tyres that were nine laps fresher – could be in with a chance of the win. But Grosjean continued to battle on gamely until lap 55, when he was radioed by the team and asked not to hold up Raikkonen as he attempted to pass. The Frenchman obeyed the order, but it was too little too late – Raikkonen had lost his tyres’ peak grip in Grosjean’s dirty air, and needed at least one more lap to have a real chance of challenging Vettel for the win. Mention should be made of Fernando Alonso, who made the most of Ferrari’s bold strategy to end the race challenging for a podium despite having started the race in P8. Alonso ran a long(ish) first stint on the medium compound, and was running in P4 before the Safety Car came out and the pits filled with drivers seeking a ‘free’ tyre change. The Spanish racer then held position for much of the rest of the race, moving up the pack due to stops made ahead before switching to the softer compound on lap 49 with a view to making a last-gasp challenge for the podium. It was not to be, but Alonso nevertheless finished two seconds off the podium in a car that lacked the outright pace of Sunday’s front runners. No place like home 27 GPWEEK.com // 27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> GERMANY