Nico Rosberg wins German Grand Prix

‘I am thankful to Mercedes for the car they have built us and now I am looking forward to Hungary’

Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP celebrates in Parc Ferme after victory in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring  in Hockenheim, Germany. Photograph:   Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP celebrates in Parc Ferme after victory in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring in Hockenheim, Germany. Photograph: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

 

Nico Rosberg won the German Grand Prix with an untroubled but well-executed pole to flag finish but in an action packed grand prix it was Lewis Hamilton’s charge from 20th on the grid to third place that had fans on the edge of their seats.

It is Rosberg’s fourth win of the season and puts him 14 points clear of Hamilton and in doing so he also passed the total of career laps led by his father, Keke. Denied a fight with the British driver he did exactly what he needed to do and drove a flawless run to the chequered flag but not one that necessarily caught the eye.

“We’ll be celebrating a little tonight,” Rosberg said.“I am thankful to Mercedes for the car they have built us and now I am looking forward to Hungary.”

After his accident in qualifying, Hamilton had cautioned that his race would have to be focused on “damage limitation again – which I seem to be doing quite often”. Taking 15 points here would almost certainly be as much as he might have expected but it often came within a whisker of going from merely a bad weekend to a disastrous one.

“I had great fun, thank you so much for the support,” he said.“It was hard to get through the pack safely and it was hard to overtake at the end but I am glad to get some points today.”

He had indeed carved through the pack early in the race. Making breathtaking moves on Kimi Raikonnen and losing part of his front wing trying to go up the inside of Button. It was heady stuff but ultimately costly, the wing damage from the move on Button overworked the left front tyre and the team had to switch form a two to a three-stop strategy.

The switch gave him two sets of the faster supersoft tyres to make it to the end and put him on the same strategy as the four cars in front of him – Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, and with whom he was now in a straight race to the finish.

By lap 61 he had caught Bottas in second place but the Finnish driver, who had qualified just over two tenths slower than Rosberg, was no slouch in race pace, sitting 20 seconds behind the German.

Hamilton pitted slightly early to try to take an advantage of an expected safety car after Adrian Sutil span and stopped on the start-finish straight but that was dealt with by stewards under yellows. This meant that by the end, on wearing tyres, Hamilton did not quite have enough to pass Bottas, who drove superbly to convert his second on the grid to his second career runner-up spot and his third podium in a row. His credentials as a star of the future were further enhanced by a confident and quick race.

There was great racing throughout the field, Alonso scrapping again with the Red Bulls of Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo with Vettel taking fourth, the Spaniard fifth and the Australian sixth. Nico Hülkenberg in the Force India held on to take seventh and Jenson Button moved from 11th to eighth. Kevin Magnussen and Sergio Pérez rounded out the points positions.

Felipe Massa’s bad luck, in a season in which he seems to have already had more than his fair share, continued when Kevin Magnussen clipped him up the inside of turn one, causing the Brazilian’s car to roll over and the safety car to be deployed; it was classed as a racing incident. It is the third time this season Massa has gone out on the first lap – the last time was at his 200th grand prix, two weeks ago at Silverstone, when he had to turn sideways to avoid a major crash with Raikonnen.

Full credit goes to Rosberg but Hamilton had rescued as much as could be expected from a long and painful weekend. He had to start from 20th: his accident in qualifying left him 15th on Saturday but a gearbox change on Sunday morning, expected due to the extensive damage sustained during the incident at the Sachskurve, was required and a five-place grid penalty was imposed.

After much debate in the paddock, he had also changed brake discs for safety reasons from the ones manufactured by Brembo to those of Carbon Industrie, as used by Rosberg. The FIA did not impose a penalty for this, ruling that the disc supplier change did not represent a change of car specification under parc fermé conditions.

To go from such tribulations, just a few hours before the race, to turning in a controlled but aggressive drive, including the fastest lap, was a marvellous turnaround rewarded with a clutch of points that may yet prove crucial at the season’s end.

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