The flashpoint arrived with just 15 laps remaining.
Mercedes' world champion Lewis Hamilton, a favorite for pole position later and eight points behind Vettel in the standings, ventured out on track in the dying minutes but did not complete a timed lap and was classified last.
Hamilton took an unlikely win at Hockenheim, carving his way through the pack and then taking advantage when rain affected the final third of the race.
"I threw it away".
"The issue was that we seem to have damaged a bit on the auto jumping over the kerb and that caused a hydraulic leak, but the vehicle is just coming back so we need to check whether that was really the case", he told reporters.
With dark clouds swirling around, Mercedes told Hamilton they were extending his first stint "as much as we can".
The win helped Hamilton reclaim the lead of the championship from Vettel.
"It is something I have done wrong and I should have done better but it wasn't the biggest mistake I have done".
"It's not like tonight I'll have difficulties to fall asleep, because of what I've done wrong".
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"It's disappointing because up to that point everything was sweet".
"It was a small mistake but big disappointment". "I was a tiny bit too late on the brakes, locked the rears and I couldn't turn".
"In terms of making the call later in the race when they started to be all over each other at the restart, it was raining at places and it was still humid and we had had so much bad luck in the last couple of races that the scenario of losing a auto or two was just something that I didn't want to even envisage", he said.
"I've never seen that body language from him before".
On Sunday, Hamilton started on the 14th position because a broken card prohibited him from finishing the qualifier.
After the Azerbaijan GP in June 2017, Hamilton publicly spoke about his rival's apparent vulnerability under pressure as something he could exploit. The race had looked to be in his title rival Sebastian Vettel's hands until the German crashed out after losing his auto on the damp surface. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1hr 32min 29.845, 2.
The FIA race director, Charlie Whiting, said that Ferrari had not issued a protest against Hamilton's actions and explained why it had taken so long.
Verstappen finished fourth with his slim chances of finishing on the podium ending with Red Bull's failed gamble to switch to the intermediates.
Sergio Marchionne, the architect of Fiat Chrysler’s turnaround, has died at 66
Marchionne's last public appearance was on June 26 where those on hand noted he seemed breathless and not in the best state. In 1994, Marchionne joined Alusuisse Lonza Group Ltd. after the Swiss chemical and pharmaceutical company acquired Lawson.