German Grand Prix: Home Victory

Nico Rosberg extends his championship lead by 14 points after winning the German Grand Prix, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. Safe to say it was a good week for Germany, and the Mercedes team, and powered engines. It was another superb performance for Bottas to hold his P2 position throughout the race. Lewis Hamilton, unsurprisingly stormed his way up to the podium making up seventeen grid positions throughout the race. Rosberg got a clean getaway from lights out, but further back on the grid Bianchi was caught sleeping. We were racing for a good 10 seconds before the safety car made it’s third first lap appearance for the season. On the entry into the first corner, Massa in P3 cut back across the track into the path of Magnussen on P4. The McLaren unable to avoid, clipped the Massa, sending the Williams somersaulting off the track. Thankfully Felipe was unharmed, though unlucky to be caught up in another first lap incident. Daniel Ricciardo was lucky to avoid the fray, escaping off the track and dropping ten-places in the process to P15. The safety car was in on lap 3, and we were racing again for a brilliantly weird race.

Rosberg’s drive from pole to chequered flag could not be faulted. Despite the Mercedes having to somewhat lift and coast on his final stint, the homeboy still lead the from Bottas by 20.7s at the end of the 67 laps. Hamilton demonstrated the almost indestructible competitiveness of the F1 W05 after charging his way from the back of the field. The Mercedes lost part of his front wing after turning into the Button at the hairpin, yet still somehow managed the fastest lap of the race. Slight cracks started to show as Hamilton stalked down Bottas in the final laps, with the Mercedes unable to pass the Williams, relegating Hamilton to P3.

It was a bittersweet afternoon for Williams as Massa didn’t make it passed the first corner. Bottas however, maintained his qualifying position, to finish on the second step of the podium. Even on 42 lap old soft compound tyres, the Williams driver still defended his position from Hamilton in the final stint of the race, making sure the door was closed on the Mercedes. It could easily have been a double Williams podium finish if Massa hadn’t crashed.

Red Bull are getting the most out of the least competitive Renault engine to have both Vettel and Ricciardo finish firmly in the points. Vettel experienced the catch-22 of Formula 1 when having both to push to overtake Alonso, and lift to save fuel for the race. Ricciardo was quick to avoid the first lap theatrics, but at the cost of several grid positions. The Australian was quick to guide his way back through the field, with Hamilton pushing him from behind early on. The best battle came between Ricciardo and Alonso, who tussled for P5. The two went side by side out of the hairpin, with Ricciardo managing to stay ahead into turn 7. Just a few laps later however, Ricciardo lost the place to Alonso at the hairpin, with the RB10 couldn’t keep up with the F14 T on the straights.

The Ferrari was more competitive in the cooler track temperatures, with Alonso delivering his expected composed performance. Choosing to favour the hairpin, and straight into turn 7 to make his move, Alonso stalked his way passed Vettel and Hulkenberg on lap 39. As mentioned, the Spaniard was caught in a brilliant tango with the Ricciardo to obtain his P5 finishing position. Raikkonen was the opposite of composed, treating his F14 T more like a bumper car than an F1 car. It was refreshing to see some pace back in the Finn, who on the supersofts after his first stop hustled his way around the circuit. It’s the first time this season that Kimi looked like he was actually having fun. Unfortunately, the Ferrari couldn’t handle the tyre management, and a three stop strategy dropped Kimi down to the middle of the field, to finish just outside the points in P11.

It was a double points finish for both Hulkenberg and Perez as the Force India’s benefited from the cooler track temperatures. Hulkenberg was somewhat uncomfortable with the amount of understeer in the VJM07, though managed to maintain a competitive pace to make a two stop strategy work. In contrast to qualifying, the Force India actually gained 1.2s a lap on his final stint to pass Button for P7. The smart strategy in the Force India garage carried through to Checo too, who managed to undercut Kimi in the pit stop to take the final point in P10.

A positive day for McLaren with Button finishing P8 and Magnussen in P9. Button was involved in a politely English incident with Hamilton on lap 31. The Mercedes turned into the McLaren at the hairpin, with Button losing a place to Hamilton. Luckily the MP4-29 was unharmed, and a stop soon after for soft tyres saw him back out with a pleasantly competitive pace. Magnussen too was involved in a less polite incident, being caught out as Massa turned into the McLaren’s path on the opening lap. Magnussen lost sixteen positions following the incident, but raced well on a three stop strategy, picking up two points in the process.

Lotus only had one driver see the chequered flag. Grosjean’s E22 gave up on lap 28, the Frenchman pulled off the track at turn 2 to become the second retirement of the day. It was up to Maldonado to bring some points home for the team, however the Venezuelan driver just missed out, dropping two positions to Perez and Raikkonen in the final laps.

Vergne was the sole Toro Rosso to make it home, finishing in P13 after serving a 5 second stop-go penalty for leaving the track to gain advantage on Grosjean. Kvyat gave a lively performance today, though making an error in an attempt to pass Sergio Perez at turn 8 on lap 9. Kvyat made contact with Perez, spinning the STR9 to face the wrong way, and dropping the Russian five places to P15. Kvyat later retired on lap 48 from overheating and loss of power*.

Gutierrez finished P14, with the Sauber managing to unlap himself from Alonso in the later stages of the race. After dropping it into the final corner on lap 50, Sutil decided that the start finish straight would be a good place to demonstrate his ability to do donuts, until he stalled the C33 becoming the final retirement of the race.

Bianchi was superb in the Marussia, keeping his distance from both the Caterhams and his team mate. The French rookie finished P15, ahead of Chilton’s P17. Kobayashi finished a quiet P16, while Ericsson rounded out the last of the remaining drivers for P18.

Surprisingly the safety car only made one appearance throughout the race. Even with the Toro Rosso catching fire, and the Sauber parking right on the racing line, the stewards made the bizarre decision to keep the race going under yellow flags. The only thing more reluctant than the safety car to make an appearance was the rain, which held off until a few drops fell on the final lap. There is no break in the calendar as the championship moves straight to the Hungaroring (and the race that I cannot pronounce – Formula 1 Pirelli Magyar Nagydij), so I will see you shortly. Until then, gute nacht.

– Alex

Qualifying Pole Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
Podium Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
Valtteri Bottas (Williams-Mercedes)
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Fastest Lap 1:19.908 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

* This may be owing the the fact that his car was on fire.

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