NURBURG, Germany — Three-time defending Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel won in his home country for the first time after holding off Kimi Raikkonen in the closing laps of Sunday's German Grand Prix.
Vettel, who turned 26 years old on Wednesday, started second but quickly passed Lewis Hamilton, the pole sitter, for the lead on the opening lap. The German took command from there. Raikkonen and his Lotus teammate, Romain Grosjean, challenged Vettel for the top spot throughout the 60-lap race at the Nurburgring circuit, but the Red Bull driver crossed the finish line one second ahead of Raikkonen to score his first victory in the German GP in his sixth attempt.
It was Vettel's fourth win of the season and the 30th of his career, which put him one victory behind Nigel Mansell for fifth on the F1 all-time grand prix winners list.
"It's unbelievable," Vettel said. "I'm very, very happy. Kimi was pushing very hard at the end. (Lotus) tried to do something different with the compound tires. I think we had a very solid and very controlled race. It's incredible to finally win in Germany."
With the win, Vettel increased his lead in the championship standings to 34 points over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who finished fourth. Raikkonen's second-place run moved him up to third in the rankings (-41).
"We managed to do pretty well, but obviously, we wanted to win," Raikkonen said. "We did not have the speed today. If the race would have been a little bit longer, then maybe we would've had a good chance. We scored good points for the two cars (Raikkonen and Grosjean), and we're getting back to where we should be."
Grosjean made his second podium appearance of the season. He also finished third in the April 21 Bahrain Grand Prix. Vettel picked up the win and Raikkonen finished second in Bahrain.
"It's a good result for the team," Grosjean said. "I'm very happy to be back on the podium."
Hamilton from Mercedes ended up finishing fifth after struggling with his tires for most of the race.
There were no tire failures in the German GP, unlike the numerous blowouts that occurred in last weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone. However, there was a scary moment on pit lane when Vettel's teammate, Mark Webber, pitted on lap 9. Webber was held up during his stop when his team had a problem changing the right-rear tire. As he left his pit area, the tire came off of his car and bounced down the pit lane before it struck a F1 cameraman.
Paul Allen, the cameraman, walked away under his own power following the incident. He was treated at the circuit's medical care center and then transported by helicopter to nearby Koblenz Hospital for further observation.
"The most important thing today is that the cameraman who got struck by the tire does not appear to have suffered any serious injuries," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. "It's a timely reminder that working in the pit lane is dangerous. Everyone reacted incredibly quickly, and the most important thing is to hear that he seems to be fundamentally okay."
Webber went on to finish seventh, while Jenson Button from McLaren placed sixth. Button's teammate, Sergio Perez, was eighth. Nico Rosberg from Mercedes and Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg completed the top-10.
Another bizarre incident took place on lap 23 when Jules Bianchi stopped his Marussia car on the side of the track, with flames coming from the back of it due to engine failure. After Bianchi got out of his car, it rolled backwards down the track and onto the grass before it knocked over a sign. The safety car had to be deployed while his car was towed back to the pits.
Felipe Massa from Ferrari was the first driver to retire from the race when he spun out on the fourth lap.