The championship was well under way when the F1 circus moved itself to the Nürburgring for the German Grand Prix in the weekend of 6 and 7 July in 2013. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was leading the standings with 132 points. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso followed with 111 points, while Räikkönen, who was driving for Lotus, was third at the time with 98 points. Hamilton (89) and Webber (87) rounded out the Top 5.
Hamilton took his 29th F1 pole at the Saturday of the 2013 race in Germany. Vettel lined up beside him a day later. Webber and Räikkönen started from the second row. #2 in the championship Alonso started the race from eighth.
Late Charlie Whiting took up his usual task of giving the starting signal, after which the Red Bull duo of Vettel and Webber overtook Hamilton into the first corner. Perez, then driving for McLaren-Mercedes, had a great start too, making up four places within the first few turns.
The first retirement of the day came in lap 4. Felipe Massa spun out of the race which left both him and engineer Rob Smedley very frustrated. Massa had a 100% finishing record at this track before that year. With double yellows being waved and DRS disabled, the race was slowed down for a few laps.
During these double yellows, the first pit stops were made, which lead to quite some chaos. This chaos started with Di Resta and Vergne, who nearly collided in the pit lane due to Force India releasing the former too early. The deemed unsafe release was investigated after the race and resulted in a 5000 Euro fine for the Indian team.
Hamilton tried the undercut, pitting into lap 7, switching from soft to medium tyres. Vettel pitted a lap later, employing the same strategy, and came out in front of the #44 Mercedes again.
Mayhem arrived in lap 9. Mark Webber came into the pits for his first stop. The stop took too long, because of the right rear tyre not attaching well. When he eventually drove away, that same wheel detached and started rolling through the pit lane. It hit a cameraman in the back. Luckily, the cameraman escaped without any serious injury. Webber returned to the track in 21st and a lap down. Red Bull were fined €30.000 for the incident.
Grosjean had an amazing first stint on his soft tyres. While most drivers on softs pitted within the first ten laps, the French driver did 13 laps on them. After pitting, he came back on track in P3, and immediately started closing the gap to Vettel and Hamilton.
While we are all used to Mercedes winning everything now, the 2013 German GP was not a good race for the team. The tyres did not last at all, and even though Hamilton drove in the second position for the first part of the race, it was never his to win. Räikkönen on the other hand had a great race full of overtaking. Going into lap 23, he was driving around in P3, when the safety car came out for Bianchi’s car, whose engine blew. Disaster stroke for Toro Rosso during that safety car period, with Vergne having to retire due to a hydraulic issue. During this safety car, the second round of pit stops was done for most cars.
The safety car came in after seven laps. Although the entire top 3 was within DRS of each other for the 10 laps to come, the order stayed the same until Grosjean pitted for the third time in lap 41. Vettel followed a lap later. Räikkönen and Alonso pitted in lap 50 and rejoined the race in third and fourth respectively. Oh to have the lead drivers do three stops in a dry race now. It’s something we can only dream of.
Grosjean was doing great in P2, but with teammate Räikkönen in the championship fight, the Lotus team told him to let the Finn through. This nearly cost him his podium place, because the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso came very close to the #8 Lotus in the last few laps. Kimi came close to the driver that would become his teammate two years later, but couldn’t make the move for the win.
The chequered flag was waved after 60 laps for the then three-time world champion in the beautiful dark blue Red Bull car. Nobert Vettel watches his son win the 2013 German Grand Prix by only 1.008 seconds in front of Räikkönen in second. Vettel became the first German driver to win the German Grand Prix. Schumacher won at the Nürburgring five times (‘95, ‘00, ‘01, ’04 and ‘06), but those were all branded the European GP.
“That was a tough one! They gave me a run for the money!”
Romain Grosjean rounded out the podium. Alonso stopped on track just after crossing the finish line in fourth, being told by his team to halt at the side of the track safely. Disaster-stricken Mark Webber eventually had a great overtaking race and finished seventh.
The drivers’ championship order stayed the same after this eventful race. Vettel extended his lead to Alonso to 34 points. The Red Bull driver of course went on to win the championship that year, becoming the then fourth driver to win four championships. Alonso finished the season in second. Mark Webber had a better second half of the season than first half and was the third driver to go to the FIA gala at the end of the year. It was to be both Vettel’s and Red Bull’s last title to date.
A Vettel-Räikkönen-Grosjean podium this weekend is something they, their teams, and us can only dream of. Even one of them making it to the podium seems highly unlikely. Lewis Hamilton, who finished fifth in 2013, will be hoping to equal Schumacher’s win record this weekend at the track with the notorious “Green Hell” nickname.