Dramatic German Grand Prix for both Red Bull racers

Kimi Raikkonen, centre, gets sandwiched between Sebastian Vettel (left) and Fernando Alonso (right)
Kimi Raikkonen, centre, gets sandwiched between Sebastian Vettel (left) and Fernando Alonso (right)

Both Red Bull Racing drivers were in the thick of the action throughout a drama-filled German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on Sunday.

Home crowd favourite Sebastian Vettel showed signs of being near his best again with a fine driver to fourth place, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo continued to impress with a battle through the field to sixth.

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 20:  Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull Racing drives past a large banner unfurled by his fans displaying a large image of him during the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 20, 2014 in Hockenheim, Germany.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian Vettel 498745257

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 20: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull Racing drives past a large banner unfurled by his fans displaying a large image of him during the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 20, 2014 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian Vettel 498745257

It could have been much easier for Ricciardo though, but his race was compromised at the first corner. In fact, the Australian was lucky not to be eliminated.

Slow off the line, team-mate Vettel dived up the inside of Ricciardo, and he was forced into taking evasive action to avoid Felipe Massa’s toppling Williams, pitched into a roll after he left Kevin Magnussen nowhere to go in the first corner.

Ricciardo dropped down the field to 15th, while Vettel settled into third place.

Ricciardo’s charge through the field was mirrored by Lewis Hamilton, who started 20th on the grid, and made for some swashbuckling action for the lowly places in the opening few laps.

As the front runners began to pit, Vettel emerged from his first stop just ahead of Fernando Alonso, and it wasn’t long before the pair rekindled their brilliant battle at Silverstone two weeks earlier.

This time though, Alonso’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, whose tyres were quickly going off, would play a key role, as the pair swooped either side of the Finn to overtake at the hairpin - pictured above.

Vettel eventually made his mark, gradually pulling away from the Spaniard - though they were now fighting for fourth as Hamilton climbed through the field.

The pair resumed their battle at the second stops too, with Alonso getting the advantage this time.

But stopping earlier for the third and final time, Vettel was able to get the jump on the Ferrari, establishing himself in fourth.

Ricciardo too was making quick progress, but found himself on a different strategy to those around him.

Initially, Alonso breezed up to the back of his Tilbrook-built RB10, but was made to fight for the overtake. When eventually he did pass, he built up a solid gap to Ricciardo. Vettel though was too far out of reach in fourth.

In the closing stages, as Alonso’s tyres went off, Ricciardo gobbled the gap up, but ran out of time before he could make a decent attempt at a pass, having to settle for sixth place.

Ricciardo stays third in the standings, but Vettel drops to seventh, while Red Bull remain second in the constructor’s standings.

Vettel was pleased to come away with the ‘best of the rest’ behind the dominant Mercedes runners, and even admitted having fun with rival Alonso.

“It was fun with Fernando today – we started maybe where we left off in Silverstone,” he said. “It was quite entertaining the first half of the race and at one point it was quite tight with both the Ferraris, but we managed to stay ahead.

“The second stop was a bit too close and Fernando was able to pass without too many difficulties, which put us on the back foot, but we decided to be a bit more aggressive towards the end and make sure we got the undercut and then we could put some gap between us, which was crucial for us as we were quite tight in terms of fuel towards the end of the race.”

Ricciardo echoed Vettel’s sentiments, saying it was one of the most enjoyable races of his career.

He said: “That was awesome fun, one of my most enjoyable races I’ve had. I mean, not on the first lap, obviously, that was just the wrong place at the wrong time

“And I think we did that, we fought hard and we didn’t leave anything on the table. These are the moments and battles that I personally thrive off and enjoy. Fernando is known to be a tough racer and I thought who better to have a good fight with.”

There’s no time to reflect though, as the F1 circus moves on to Budapest, Hungary, this weekend before the summer break.