Sebastian Vettel won his first German Grand Prix this afternoon. But only just. Hard to imagine that outside of Germany there was anyone who didn’t want Kimi Raikkonen to take the win today, and put his world championship campaign back on track. Come to think of it, there are probably more people watching Wimbledon right now who don’t want Andy Murray to win than wanted Vettel to win.
But win he did as, predictably, the Mercedes challenge faded, as it did so often in the first races of the season, and with it our fleeting hopes that somehow or other Lewis Hamilton had found himself a genuine title challenger. From pole, Lewis was swallowed up by both Red Bulls and reduced to spending the afternoon on the car phone, complaining about the rubber and his teammate’s driving. He finished fifth.
Rosberg’s not entirely charitable attitude to his teammate helped Romain Grosjean get ahead of Hamilton at the end of the first cycle, and for a while there it looked like today might have been Grosjean’s day. But Raikkonen’s class – and pace – showed through. This was his most committed drive since the comeback.
Mercedes’ dip in form was best demonstrated not by Alonso’s off-the-pace and on-a-gamble Ferrari taking fourth place, but by the presence of both McLarens in the top ten. Though the McLaren performance suggests more about the grit shown, in very different ways, by Jenson Button and Sergio Perez this afternoon than any marked improvement in the performance of the car.
Webber (7th) and Rosberg (9th) were the comeback kings today, Webber from a pit stop that went alarmingly wrong – a freelance wheel bowling down and injuring a cameraman – and Rosberg from 11th on the grid. His team mate started first, don’t forget. Nico Hulkenberg took the last point for Sauber which them all quite incredibly happy. How a year can change things.
So. One more race before the break and, as it was in Australia, it’s Lotus that looks best of the rest. Ferrari and Mercedes have each had their turn in the meantime, but looked beat today. Can anyone stop Vettel?