Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso & Daniel Ricciardo receive plaudits after German GP
Red Bulls and Ferrari went wheel-to-wheel throughout thrilling race
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 20/07/14 6:18pm
Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo tell Natalie Pinkham about their exciting battles during the German GP at Hockenheim.
A selection of Formula 1’s leading drivers have received plaudits for the “fantastic” wheel-to-wheel racing they served up in Sunday’s German GP.
In keeping with the reputation the modern-day Hockenheim track has established since it was drastically reprofiled 12 years ago, the 2014 edition produced a series of thrilling on-track incidents between a host of the grid’s top protagonists.
While Lewis Hamilton’s surge from 20th to third proved the race’s headline story, some of the battles behind proved just as engrossing – notably those involving Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull duo Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo.
“I thought they raced fantastically,” an impressed Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1.“The race between Fernando and both our guys today was fantastic.”
Ricciardo ultimately lost out on fifth place to Ferrari rival Alonso with four laps to go after the pair had diced for several laps through the middle complex of corners. However, having dropped down to 15th as he went wide to avoid the spectacular Massa/Magnussen collision at the first corner, the Australian was still buzzing afterwards.
“It was awesome fun. One of my most enjoyable races,” he declared. “Obviously not the first lap – just wrong place, wrong time. Not as worse off as Massa, but I was just on the outside and that collision happened and I had to avoid it.
“From then on I got on the radio and said ‘let’s make an amazing recovery’ and make ourselves proud and I think we did that. We fought had and didn’t leave anything on the table, so I think we made a bit of a statement.
“These are the sort of moments and battles I personally thrive off and enjoy and he’s known to be a tough racer so I thought ‘who better to have a good fight with?’
“I was on the prime [tyre] he was on the fresher option and I think I was the underdog but I think I gave it the best fight I could and nearly [finished ahead].”
For much of the race Alonso had been battling with perennial rival Vettel in a repeat of their long-running scrap from Silverstone. The most dramatic moment in the pair’s latest duel came after the first pit stops when they encountered the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen at the hairpin.
“It was coincidence out of the pitlane we had the two Ferraris and the Red Bull and we did a little sandwich with Kimi at that moment. But everything was fine,” Alonso recounted.
“Then with Ricciardo at the end to be honest I had a big advantage on the tyres, I had fresh tyres from the pitlane, and Daniel was just struggling with the grip so I just waited my opportunity, three or four laps, and then I attacked. I passed and next time when we battle it will be more equal.”
Although Alonso later passed Vettel on track immediately after the German’s second stop, it was the Red Bull who finished in fourth after Ferrari were forced to convert onto a three-stop strategy due to excessive tyre wear late on.
Vettel admitted he was fortunate to encounter Raikkonen when he did after the first stops.
“More entertaining than I was hoping for, especially at the beginning again,” the World Champion reflected. “Started where we finished with Fernando in Silverstone so quite tight until the last set of stops.
“After the first stop I was quite lucky Kimi was there, he gave me the DRS and it was very close into the hairpin. I didn’t know which way to go so I decided for the outside which was crucial because I knew the inside line would be beneficial for the hairpin.”