Nico Rosberg breezed to victory at the German Grand Prix this afternoon, leading unchallenged from pole to flag. His only realistic rival, team-mate Lewis Hamilton, had been effectively ruled out of contention after a crash during the first part of Qualifying on Saturday, meaning he started twentieth on the grid. An alternated strategy for the Briton as a result of contact with former team-mate Jenson Button, saw him finish third behind Valtteri Bottas, who celebrated his third consecutive podium.
The five lights came on and went out, and the grid raced towards turn 11. Jules Bianchi had bogged down which forced the Caterham behind him to dive around him, while up the front, Rosberg had maintained his lead towards turn 1. Kevin Magnussen was looking to jump Felipe Massa into the first corner but the Dane ran out of room and his wheel connected with Massa’s, flipping Massa’s car and sending it scraping across the gravel in the run off at turn 1. Ricciardo was sent wide by the incident and narrowly avoided the inverted Williams, but rejoined far down the order while the Safety Car was deployed.
The Safety Car came in at the end of the second lap and Rosberg bolted away from the Williams of Valtteri Bottas behind him. In the mid-field, Ricciardo was told that Hamilton was behind him and pushing hard, following the Briton’s crash in Qualifying and subsequent penalty, which caused saw him starting from twentieth. Engaged in their own battle, Ricciardo and Hamilton came up behind Sutil, where Ricciardo pushed past into turn 6. When Hamilton tried to follow the Red Bull past, Sutil turned in and made light contact with Lewis.
Soon after, Ricciardo and Hamilton had left Sutil trailing and had caught up to the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. The Red Bull took the outside line while the Mercedes locked up the inside and sailed into the Ferrari, causing slight damage to the Ferrari’s front wing. Nonetheless, Hamilton had secured the position and had advanced two places.
Kimi was sandwiched into turn six again a few laps later when Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, repeating their close battle from the British Grand Prix two weeks ago, arrived behind the Finn. Again Kimi took slight damage in the scrap for position, which left Alonso in the lead and debris on the track.
Behind them, Perez was getting inventive with his overtakes: he pulled a move on Romain Grosjean into turn 8 which had him ahead briefly, before Grosjean moved back past the Mexican at the exit of the 9-10 section. While Grosjean came close to exceeding track limits during the overtake, Vergne had been abusing the track limits and was handed a five-second stop/go penalty for same. Grosjean soon became the race’s second retirement when his Lotus broke down on lap 28.
After pitting for the first time, Hamilton emerged in eighth, and behind his sparring partner from the beginning of the race. Making short work of Ricciardo second-time-round, he came up behind Button who provided a tougher opposition for his former team-mate. Again at turn 6, Hamilton dived down the inside of Button, but hit the McLaren’s sidepod on the exit and damaged his front wing. With a subsequent drop in performance, his team began looking for an alternate strategy.
Behind him, Alonso had caught up to Ricciardo and was looking to squeeze past. Together they passed the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg into turn 6, and then resumed racing on the clear track ahead of them. They were denied the chance to fight into the track’s permier overtaking point, turn 6, when Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso burst into flames on the back straight and parked in the run-off area of turn 6. The Russian jumped clear of his fiery cockpit and punched a barrier in frustration, rueing the lost opportunity to score some valuable points for his team.
Adrian Sutil also ended his race prematurely when he spun out of the last corner and reported that there was a problem with his car. The yellow flags were shown again, and his Sauber was in a very dangerous position but, incredibly, the Safety Car stayed park. It was not even deployed when Sutil resigned himself to a DNF and climbed from his cockpit, strolling to the pitwall and back to the paddock. Instead, the Sauber sat dangerously across the grid until some brave marshals sprinted from the opposite side of the track and wheeled it to the pitlane, two laps later. It was a farce by Race Control and an unnecessary risk.
Hamilton, on his alternate strategy to try to combat the damage caused to his front wing, expected a Safety Car and came into the pits for a fresh set of soft tyres. Ricciardo and Alonso were still battling behind him, and Alonso eventually managed to get past Ricciardo into turn 6, but the Aussie pushed back mid-corner and regained the lead of the Spaniard. This was repeated at turn 7 where Alonso pulled a ballsy move on the Red Bull, only to lose the position to Ricciardo again. Finally, Alonso moved past into turn 6, and kept Ricciardo behind him at turn 8.
Bottas and Hamilton were also fighting for position, but the Finn kept control of the battle and closed out the race merely half-a-second ahead of the faster Mercedes. Up the front, where he had been since the race start, Rosberg was completely unchallenged, and breezed across the line in front of his adoring home crowd. Bottas followed him twenty seconds later to secure his third consecutive podium, while Hamilton shadowed him as he took third. Sebastian Vettel took fourth for Red Bull while Alonso came home fifth ahead of Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Button, Magnussen and Perez to round out the top ten.
- Nico Rosberg
- Valtteri Bottas
- Lewis Hamilton
- Sebastian Vettel
- Fernando Alonso
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Nico Hulkenberg
- Jenson Button
- Kevin Magnussen
- Sergio Perez
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Pastor Maldonado
- Jean-Eric Vergne
- Esteban Gutierrez
- Jules Bianchi
- Kamui Kobayashi
- Max Chilton
- Marcus Ericsson
- Adrian Sutil – spin
- Daniil Kvyat – fire
- Romain Grosjean – mechanical failure
- Felipe Massa – collision