Lewis Hamilton found his form for the German Grand Prix and was untouchable in the race after a weekend of shadowing Rosberg. The Brit was able to show his pace when it counted and Rosberg had nothing to respond with.
The race start was the beginning of the end for Rosberg. A poor getaway saw Hamilton take the lead, the German then found himself swallowed up by both Red Bulls. It was game over from there. Hamilton built a gap of 5s to the chasing Max Verstappen after 6/7 laps and that was the closest that anyone got to the current championship leader.
Rosberg was fiery in the opening laps and hassled Ricciardo in 3rd, but the Aussie wasn’t going to give up a podium place on his 100th Grand Prix easily, and he defended aggressively. This seemed to put Rosberg on the back-foot for the rest of the race.
Elsewhere, Sergio Perez has the worst race start of the lot, his Force India forced off the racing line for the opening lap as others darted though. He started in 9th, but found himself down in 15th by lap 2. Vettel got the jump on his team-mate Kimi Raikkonnen and moved up to 5th. The Ferrari’s started on the third row and finished that way. It was possibly the most boring race for the pair and highlighted that regardless of the managerial appointments and speculation surrounding the team, on-track performance has slipped in 2016. Forget Mercedes, Ferrari don’t even have Red Bull in their sights at the moment.
Jolyon Palmer and Felipe Massa made contact early on in the race, the latter was left without balance in the rear of his car and was visibly hampered on-track as Alonso passed with ease. Perhaps there was a bit of Palmer’s front-wing still stuck in Massa’s rear, because the Brazilian had to retire, which was unfortunate because Williams could have had a double-points finish here.
The first flurry of pit-stops was initiated by Perez on lap 9, who needed to try something different after a dire start, he came in for some softs, which triggered a reaction from Massa and Sainz on the following lap. The Toro Rosso and The Williams found themselves emerging from the pits behind Checo, which was a signal to the higher placed teams that the undercut was working.
— Sahara Force India (@ForceIndiaF1) July 31, 2016
Mercedes attempted to do this with Rosberg to get past Ricciardo, but it didn’t work after some questionable calculations on the pit-wall. In clean air, you go faster on fresh rubber, but Rosberg came out behind the McLaren’s, both of which didn’t look to have a power-deficit on the straights and the German couldn’t undercut either of the Red Bulls ahead. To add insult to injury, Rosberg was given a 5-second penalty in the pits for what was an overtake on Max Verstappen. The stewards, who race after race, seem intent on disenfranchising the audience from understanding the rules and the drivers from pushing to the limit, feel it necessary to penalize racing. I hope every one of them officiates themselves a bit more if they’re invited back to “steward” again…
— CLICKON Motorsport (@CLICKONMotor) July 31, 2016
The rising track temperature seemed to negate the effects of the super-soft tyre. Verstappen pitted for a set on the same lap as Rosberg, but immediately told his team that “this is not the race tyre” as he punched in times that were mirrored by lesser cars on the softs.
Whilst the tyre battles continued, the commentators, the mixer, most of the audience and myself completely forgot about Hamilton. It was one of those dominant performances that meant we saw him in the opening 5 laps and then at the end, collecting the checkered flag. Rosberg simply had a bad day at the office, he was nowhere.
— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) July 31, 2016
Towards the end of the race, Ricciardo looked to be getting closer, biting chunks out of Hamilton’s 8 second lead at a rate of 0.5s per lap. A few laps later, Hamilton turned up the pace and went eight tenths quicker than the Aussie as if to say, “You can try it mate, but you’re not getting close.”
Hamilton collected the 25 points and now goes into the summer break with a 19 point lead over his team-mate. Ricciardo was happy with 2nd and was joined on the podium by Verstappen in 3rd. Rosberg will go into the summer break wondering what happened. There’s no point in dominating on Friday and Saturday if you run out of steam for the race!
Vettel and Raikkonen lined up 5th and 6th with Hulkenberg 7th. The German had possibly his best race so far this season and has found his consistency again. That’s six point finishes in the last seven Grand Prix for him. He was seven seconds ahead of Jenson Button’s McLaren. Valtteri Bottas, who managed 9th despite a mega stint on the softs, limped over the line on 31-lap old tyres. To round out the top ten, Perez caught Alonso in the closing stages and managed a cheeky move around the outside of turn-6.
Seguramente una de las carreras más complicadas, sin ritmo necesario. Buena sensación de todas formas de esta primera mitad de año, con buenos puntos y con una clara línea ascendente!!! Ahora unas semanas sin carreras y llegaremos a Bélgica con las pilas cargadas!!! Not an easy race today, not enough pace! Good felling anyway of the first half of the season with good points and a lot of progress in the car! Now a few weeks off and we will be back in Belgium stronger! #f1 #germanGP
Gutierrez finished 11th (who else finishes 11th?) and Alonso had a disappointing day with 12th. Elsewhere Kevin Magnussen only finished 16th, but showed opportunistic and attacking race-craft throughout.
The results see Hamilton take a comfortable lead into the summer break. Rosberg’s 43 point lead now a distant memory as momentum falls at Lewis’ feet. Red Bull rightly dethrone Ferrari of 2nd in the Constructors and Force India creep slightly closer to Williams in 4th.
UPDATED DRIVERS' STANDINGS
19 pts between P1 and P2
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 31, 2016
Also, here’s Ricciardo’s explanation of what a Shoey means in Straya… Just because!
— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) July 31, 2016
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 31, 2016