Lewis Hamilton extended his lead following his German Grand Prix victory to 19 points
(Photo from: www.gazzettaworld.com)
Lewis Hamilton won the German Grand Prix in dominant style to extend his championship lead to 19 points as teammate and closet championship rival Nico Rosberg could only manage fourth. It was Hamilton’s fourth win in a row and in doing so became the first man in the history of F1 to win four races in a calendar month.
The weekend didn’t all go Hamilton’s way as he could only manage second in qualifying behind Rosberg who performed a fantastic lap under pressure after having to abandon his first lap following an electrical fault. Behind the two Mercedes’ were the Red Bull’s of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in third and fourth and the Ferrari duo of Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel in fifth and sixth respectively. Nico Hulkenburg qualified seventh although he dropped to eighth behind Valtteri Bottas following a tyre mix up with Sergio Perez and Felipe Massa completing the top 10.
Race day and as the lights went out it was Hamilton who got the best start, leaving Rosberg wheel spinning away from pole, following a disastrous start, dropping to fourth by the first corner behind the two Red Bulls. Max Verstappen also had a quick start as he overtook his teammate Ricciardo around the outside of turn 1 to take second. As they charged down to turn 2 Bottas locked up in his attempts to get up the inside of Räikkönen while at the hairpin, Massa was hit by Jolyon Palmer’s Renault. It was a terrible first lap for the Brit who had to return to the pits a lap later for a tyre change following a major lock up on the first lap.
Despite Rosberg’s best efforts on the first lap, which included finding himself on the grass heading down the hairpin, he was unable to find a way past the Red Bull’s and settled into the race, waiting for his opportunity.
At the end of the first lap saw Hamilton leading, Verstappen second, Ricciardo third with Rosberg fourth, followed by Vettel, Räikkönen, Bottas, Hulkenburg, Button and Massa who rounded out the top 10 despite the contact with Palmer.
The order remained the same through the first round of pitstops with the leaders coming in between lap 13 and lap 15 with Verstappen and Rosberg pitting on the same lap.
After pitting for second time a lap earlier than those in front in an attempt to make the undercut work in his favour, Rosberg homed in on Verstappen after the Red Bull driver returned to the track following his own pitstop on lap 29. The German made his move at the hairpin, a late lunge from a long way back which resulted in the home favourite running wide and forcing the young Dutchman off the track, a move which resulted in Rosberg receiving a controversial 5 second time penalty.
Meanwhile up at the front Hamilton was cruising, coming in for his second pitstop on lap 35 fitting the super-soft tyres and returning to the race over six seconds clear of closest rival Rosberg.
Behind the lead duo, Ricciardo was flying, having also fitting the super-soft tyres at his second stop on lap 34, he was allowed through by his teammate on lap 40, setting the fastest lap of the race in the meantime, and quickly closed in on Rosberg. However on lap 45 Rosberg came in for his third and final stop, where he would have to take his 5 second time penalty. However there was an issue with the stopwatch and Rosberg lost about 5 extra seconds, and once the Red Bull duo had made their final stops on laps 46 and 47 respectively the German found himself in fourth.
Following Hamilton’s final stop on lap 48 to softs this is how the order would stay to the chequered flag ensuring Hamilton won a third German Grand Prix. He was joined on the podium by Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in second and third with Nico Rosberg only managing fourth. The Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen came fifth and sixth with Nico Hulkenburg finishing seventh at his home race. Valtteri Bottas was expected to finish eighth however his tyres hit the cliff on the penultimate lap, allowing Jenson Button through with Sergio Perez in the second Force India rounding out the top 10.
It was a thrilling race before the championship heads into the summer break. With Hamilton 19 points clear, he has set down a marker for those behind to chase. However with the Brit knowing that he will have to take a time penalty at one stage in the season, a fourth crown is by no means safe yet.