Monday, July 8, 2013

A Deutschland Dream: Vettel Captures First German Grand Prix

Photo Credit: Pirelli Photo Service

Earlier in the Formula 1 season, Fernando Alonso accomplished an eye-catching feat of worthy of patriotism. At the Spanish Grand Prix in May, crowds were thunderous with the sight of Alonso's Ferrari passing the start/finish line first at the Circuit de Catulunya. It because evident right off the bat at the 2013 German Grand Prix the Nurburgring could serve as the next moment where fans will be applauding with national pride.

On Saturday, a Mercedes AMG race car driven by Lewis Hamilton claimed the pole ahead of the 60-lap main event. In addition to the star badge belonging to Germany's more prominent auto company, the German Grand Prix's front row also featured the country's famed superstar athlete Sebastian Vettel. Despite 29 wins and 3 world driving titles in Formula 1, Vettel was still seeking his first-career German Grand Prix.

When the lights went out to signify the German Prix Grand Prix on Sunday, the front row battle of the grid matched the winless in 2013 driver against a reigning champion wanting to claim victory at his nation's highest-ranking motor race. A mix between a bad start for Hamilton and Vettel's quenching desire to delight his home crowd ended with the Red Bull-Renault taking the lead into turn one. Vettel's teammate Mark Webber was also able to carve his way around the pole-sitting Mercedes AMG car. Falling to third on the first lap, Lewis Hamilton would never exist as a force for victory on Sunday.

The Ferrari handled by Felipe Massa participated in a short 2013 German Grand Prix. Despite a good start, Massa veered off track on lap three stalling his engine. Unable to return to action, Massa became the first retirement of the race.

Unlike the British Grand Prix, Pirelli tires held together on the race track. However, a tire would become a source of a scary incident in Germany. During Mark Webber's first pit stop on lap 8, a right-rear wheel wasn't properly attached to the hub of the race car. When Webber left his pit, the tire flew off his Red Bull-Renault and was launched into a cameraman filming the pit crew actions for another team. A violent-looking hit, the cameraman named Paul Allen was knocked to the ground. Requiring medical attention at both the on-course infirmary, Allen was later transported to an off-site hospital. Formula 1 stated that Allen remained conscious and that the trip to a hospital was for observation. 

The Red Bull Racing team was immediately fined 30,000 euros for the pit road incident. Christian Horner stated after the race, "We need to understand what went wrong in that first pit stop for Mark, but as I said, our main concern today is knowing that the cameraman is okay.”. As a result of the incident, Mark Webber's Red Bull-Renault lost enough positions in the race to place the Australian one lap down. However, with a safety car period caused by a firey blow-up of the Marussia-Cosworth driven by Jules Blanchi on lap 23, Webber was able to regain a lead lap position. Mark Webber was surge his way back into the points ending up with a seventh place result after 60 laps at the Nurburgring.

Despite Sebastian Vettel leading for almost the entire German Grand Prix, the Lotus-Renault of Kimi Raikkonen maintained hot pursuit of the blue Red Bull race car. However, Raikkonen's best efforts would not be enough to deny the German of his 30th victory. His fourth Formula 1 event win in 2013, Vettel proudly celebrated the honour of winning a major grand prix on home soil. Sebastian Vettel becomes the first national driver to win the German Grand Prix since Michael Schumacher in the 2006 season. The win also erases another grand prix from a list of races not won by the three-time world drivers' champion. A month ago, Vettel added his first Canadian Grand Prix to his career tally.

Photo Credit: Pirelli Photo Service

For the Lotus-Renault race cars, the Nurburgring served as a major confidence builder for drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Starting fourth, the Lotus F1 Team's lead driver Raikkonen was almost able to steal the home country victory away from Sebastian Vettel. Kimi Raikkonen finished second by a mere one-second gap. Importantly for Grosjean, his third-place finish is the Frenchman's first championship points since the Bahrain Grand Prix. Ironically, the podium order for the Bahrain Grand Prix mirrors the Grand Prix finish in Germany running Vettel, Raikkonen and Grosjean. After the strong start for the Lotus F1 Team, the Formula 1 group had been suffering a gradual downfall until the results at the Nurburgring.

Missing the podium, Fernando Alonso's Ferrari accepted a fourth place finish after 60 laps at the Nurburgring. A three-time winner of the German Grand Prix, Alonso crossed the starter's stand 7.7 seconds behind the winning Red Bull piloted by his championship adversary. Despite gaining ground in the points after Silverstone, the Ferrari driver saw the gap grow 13 points with the conclusion of German event. Sebastian Vettel now holds a 34-point advantage over Fernando Alonso after nine Formula 1 races.

In fifth place, Lewis Hamilton trotted home in the Mercedes AMG with disappointed. The unfortunate start and a set of Pirelli tires that proved incompatible with his race car's handling were mentioned as set-backs. From 11th to 9th, the second Mercedes team car of Nico Rosberg collected an additional two points proving handy for keeping the team in second-place in the constructors' standings. Mercedes AMG is only three points ahead of Ferrari for the position behind the out of reach Red Bull Racing lead.

Photo Credit: Pirelli Photo Service

After two Formula 1 rounds concluding with finishes outside of the top-10, McLaren rebounded somewhat at the German Grand Prix with both cars scoring point-paying positions. With Jenson Button in sixth and Sergio Perez settling with eighth, the Mercedes-powered McLaren race cars executed a two-pit stop strategy involving a long stint on Pirelli medium compound slick tires. However, the McLaren organization is still far from the competitive team of seasons past. After the German race, the British based team is trailing Force India by ten points in the constructors' championship standings.

In tenth place, there was a reason for German driver Nico Hulkenberg to celebrate. For the second race in a row, Hulkenberg and his Sauber-Ferrari collected useful points.

For the tenth race on the 2013 Formula 1 schedule, teams race once again in three weeks taking part in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

2013 Formula 1
German Grand Prix
Race Results 

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
2 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault
3 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
4 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
5 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
6 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
7 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
8 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
9 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
10 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
11 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz
12 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
13 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
14 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
15 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
16 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
17 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault
18 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault
19 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth
20 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
21 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
22 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari

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