Pushed hard by a driver who may become his teammate, Sebastian Vettel finally won at home in Nuerburgring, Germany, in a race that featured some scary moments Sunday.
The three-time defending Formula One champion surged ahead in his Red Bull by the first curve and then had to resist the challenge of two fast Lotus cars. He took the checkered flag a second ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who is being mentioned as Vettel’s possible future colleague.
“It was a tough race. It was one of the toughest for a long time,” Vettel said after his fourth victory of the season. “I am happy the race was 60 laps and not 61 or 62, the Lotus were incredibly fast and pushing very hard, and Kimi was putting a lot of pressure on me at the end – he was a bit quicker.
“It’s incredible to win at home, a great relief. It’s sweet to win here, but at the end it’s just another race. I’m happy to take (the) win and score some points.”
Vettel had been without a win in Europe for 22 months and – more obscurely – had never won a race in July.
Vettel’s 30th career victory extended his championship lead to 34 points over Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, who finished fourth. Raikkonen moved up to third, 41 points behind Vettel.
There were no tire blowouts but the race had its share of bizarre incidents, including a loose wheel flying through the air in the pit lane and an abandoned car drifting on its own down the track. A cameraman fractured a shoulder and cracked a rib in the wheel accident.
The tires became an issue after a series of blowouts at last week’s British Grand Prix, prompting drivers to threaten a pullout if the problems persisted in Germany.
Gray edges Capps for funny car title
Johnny Gray won his fourth Funny Car title of the year at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.
Gray and Ron Capps drove their Dodge Chargers to identical times of 4.103 seconds in the championship round. But Gray posted the quicker reaction time to get the win. Gray’s Charger went 314.02 mph compared to 314.09.
Khalid alBalooshi (Top Fuel), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won.
AlBalooshi claimed his first victory of the season, knocking off top qualifier Doug Kalitta in the final round. He covered the distance in 3.935 seconds at 271.30 mph while Kalitta’s numbers were 4.215 seconds and 268.54 mph.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Smith went 6.594 at 192.44 on his Buell en route to the victory against Scotty Pollacheck, who had a final round time of 7.008 at 191.16.