Nuerburgring: Three-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel surged ahead in his Red Bull at the start of the German Grand Prix on Sunday and held off a strong challenge from the two Lotus cars to win his first race on home soil.
There were no tire blowouts but the race had its share of bizarre incidents, with a loose wheel flying through the air in the pit lane and an abandoned car drifting on its own down the track. Vettel started second behind pole sitter Lewis Hamilton and powered past the Mercedes driver into the first bend.
The German then held off the Lotus pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean for his fourth win of the season. Raikkonen was second, only one second behind, and Grosjean third. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso took fourth. "It's incredible to win at home, a great relief," Vettel said.
Vettel's 30th career victory extended his championship lead over Alonso to 34 points, 157-123. Raikkonen moved up to third with 116. Hamilton struggled with his tires and finished fifth as Mercedes again failed to live up to the promise of a fast qualifying run.
Hamilton was also passed by the other Red Bull driven by Mark Webber before the first bend, who went past Hamilton on the outside as Vettel drove by inside.
But Webber lost a wheel when he left his first pit stop too soon and finished seventh after dropping to the back of the field. The flying wheel struck British cameraman Paul Allen in the left side. He remained conscious and was treated at the circuit before being taken to a hospital for observation.
While the tires held and ended the threat of a drivers' boycott, another scary incident took place when Jules Bianchi's Marussia spewed smoke and caught fire briefly. Bianchi got out of the car, which started freewheeling down the track on its own. There were no other cars coming as the driverless vehicle ended up on grass, hit a trackside billboard and came to a halt as stewards rushed to control it. That brought on the safety car for a few laps, which brought the Lotus cars closer to Vettel.