Sebastian Vettel came close to breaking another record at the Nurburgring, but thanks a damp piece of fake grass and a very stubborn Ferrari, finishing on the podium wasn’t ever going to be easy for the reigning champion.
The start was tough enough. Starting down in a not so usual 3rd place, it was clear that the German didn’t have 100% confidence in his Red Bull in comparison to earlier rounds. Heading into turn 1, Vettel was the meat in a Ferrari sandwich, losing out to Fernando Alonso but staying ahead of Felipe Massa. He pressed the Spaniard and passed him on lap 2 for 3rd place to the delight of the home crowd, thanks to Alonso running wide in the first sector.
But, the luck began to run dry for the young German. Alonso repassed him on lap 8 to take back third, and started to pull away. Vettel, charging hard, was grabbing at the coat-tails of the leading three when disaster struck on lap 10. While under-braking for Turn 10, the Red Bull’s right rear tyre ran over the white line and onto the astroturf overrun, kicking up some spray and pitching Vettel into a spin. Although he rejoined still in fourth place, any hopes of catching Alonso, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton were out of the window.
After the first round of stops, the afternoon got worse. Felipe Massa jumped him and became a thorn in his side for the rest of the afternoon. No matter how hard he tried, Massa’s Ferrari was too wide for him to drive round, or past. There was a final twist in the tail when both pitted on the final lap, after a round of radio-message jousting and baiting that neither team bit on, with the Red Bull putting in a lightning pit-stop to leapfrog his Brazilian nemesis.
Some might say that it was just a bad day in the Red Bull office for young Seb. But, those who hold onto a glimmer of hope may see it as the start of a Button-esque dip in form a la 2009. Either way, it was a race to forget for Sebastian Vettel.