Mercedes drive Nico Rosberg sailed to an easy victory at today’s German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring.
Valtteri Bottas (Williams) prevented a Mercedes 1-2 finish, as he held Lewis Hamilton at bay in a feisty battle to the flag.
Up front, the world championship leader rarely had to check his mirrors. Leading every lap, the German drew out a commanding lead, without appearing to ever push beyond the limits of his Silver Arrows machine.
Ending the 67-lap race with an advantage of 20.7s, Rosberg did not need to rip chunks out of the opposition on a lap-by-lap basis – the incremental steps were more than enough to crush the opposition.
It was an imperious drive from the Mercedes man and he showed delight in crushing his opposition at what he considers to be his second “home” race.
Pitting on lap 15 and 41, Rosberg never looked troubled and his light touch and confidence were rarely in doubt. Once the Pirelli softs had been set aside, Rosberg settled his pace on the prime tyres, allowing him to draw the lead out as battles were being fought in the distance.
Such was Rosberg’s dominance, Rosberg rarely appeared on screen, with the television directors understandably concentrating in the many (tighter) battles in the field. It is unlikely Rosberg will care – the only thing on his mind was the 25 points on offer – a prize he never looked ever losing.
Bottas and Hamilton headline
While Rosberg’s handled his machine with the delicacy required to bring his Mercedes home a victor, Bottas and Hamilton were somewhat more robust. Having made his final stop two laps later than Bottas (lap 40, as opposed to lap 42), Hamilton reeled the already fuel-thirsty Finn; however there was little Hamilton could do to impress a move on the Williams racer.
Such was the speed of the Mercedes-powered entry, Bottas eeked out enough of a gap on the straights each time by to keep the charging Hamilton behind; however the push also took some life from the Mercedes’ tyres, creating an effective status quo.
It was another fighting podium for Bottas with a team who last year struggled to pull a points finish together. Hamilton, meanwhile, can take some value from a race where started a distant 20th following yesterday’s qualifying crash and a forced change of gear box prior to the race.
Hamilton’s brilliant start was key for the Briton was already in the points by the time ten laps had elapsed. Thereafter, the 29-year-old pressed into up the order along with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and was running 2nd when Bottas stopped on lap 16. With Rosberg long gone, Hamilton used the best of the clear air to make positions untroubled by traffic and emerged 8th after his first stop.
Moves on Riccairdo, Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) and unfolding strategies brought Hamilton back into the podium places, where he escaped the clutches of Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) to make the best of more clear air and capture Bottas.
Behind the podium
Vettel took 4th in his Renault-powered Red Bull machine. The reigning champion drove a solid race from 6th on the grid, enjoying a nail-biting wheel-to-wheel battle with Fernando Alonso over the course of seven laps during the middle section of the race.
The duo also ran each other close in the opening portion of the race, culminating in a marvelous move when both went around either side of the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.
Alonso fell behind following his final stop and faced a fight from the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo over the latter stages of the race. It was a close run thing between the pair, with Alonso edging his Australian rival by less than a tenth-of-a-second over the line.
While a top six would acceptable in normal circumstances, Ricciardo was left to pull his way up the order after a first lap crash between Felipe Massa (Williams) and Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) forced Ricciardo to take to the gravel trap to avoid being collected. The escape route dropped Ricciardo to 15th, after which he carved his back up the order, followed by a canny Hamilton.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg once again showed his prowess in underpowered machinery, mixing it with Alonso and Vettel during several stages of the Grand Prix.
Hulkenberg’s pace dropped off toward the end of a very long stint in the second half of the race, causing the German to disappear from Ricciardo’s mirrors as the laps ticked over; however the Force India driver enjoyed enough of an advantage over the McLaren of Jenson Button.
Button, too, clung to some points taking 8th. Starting from the sixth row of the grid, the Briton made an encouraging start and was placed 6th in the early running, before the frailties of the current chassis McLaren played their hand once again.
The Englishman led his rookie teammate Magnussen home. The Dane may look upon 9th as a disappointing effort considering he started 4th; however Magnussen was lucky to continue after he was involved in an accident with Massa in the first corner, which brought out the safety car.
Turning into the opening curve, both Massa and Magnussen eyed a move on Bottas; however neither appeared to see the other, leading to a blind collision as the apex closed. Receiving the full brunt of the clash; Massa’s car overturned in the gravel trap and slid on its lid for several seconds, before flipping back onto its wheels. The stewards declared it a racing incident.
Perez takes final score from Raikkonen
Sergio Perez brought the second Force India home in the points. During what was, at times, an active race, Perez clashed with Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and also enjoyed several running battles with Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Raikkonen and Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso).
As the strategies unfolded, Perez had stretched enough of an advantage over Raikkonen to keep the Finn from taking any points, with the Ferrari man coming home lapped and over eight seconds shy of his Mexican rival.
Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado narrowly beat Vergne for 12th and 13th, while Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) made an appearance in 14th place. Jules Bianchi drove a lonely race for Marussia, as he took 15th – two places ahead of teammate Max Chilton, while the Caterham’s of Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson ended the day an invisible 16th and 18th.
There was some surprise in the final quarter when Adrian Sutil spun his Sauber exiting the final corner and stalled. The Ferrari-powered entry sat still on the start / finish straight for two laps before marshals were able to clear the stricken machine.
Kvyat did not finish either. The rear of his Toro Rosso blew itself apart on the 45th lap, while Grosjean’s Lotus also stopped on track during the 26th tour.
With ten rounds of the world championship now completed, Rosberg’s victory extends his gap over Hamilton back out to fourteen points, while Ricciardo, Alonso, Bottas and Vettel fight over 3rd place in the distance.
Hungary, the last race before the break, is only one week away and Hamilton – a former winner at the Hungaroring – will be looking to full advantage at Budapest to reel Rosberg back in.
2014 German Grand Prix (Rd 10, Hockenheim) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1h33m42.914s (67 laps) 2. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes +20.789s 3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +22.530s 4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault +44.014s 5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +52.467s 6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault +52.549s 7. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +1m04.178s 8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes +1m24.711s 9. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes -1 lap 10. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes -1 lap 11. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari -1 lap 12. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault -1 lap 13. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault -1 lap 14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari -1 lap 15. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari -1 lap 16. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault -2 laps 17. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari -2 laps 18. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault -2 laps Retirements: Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari +20 laps Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault +23 laps Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault +41 laps Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes +67 laps
2014 German Grand Prix (Rd 10) Drivers' championship Pts 1. Nico Rosberg 190 2. Lewis Hamilton 176 3. Daniel Ricciardo 106 4. Fernando Alonso 97 5. Valtteri Bottas 91 6. Sebastian Vettel 82 7. Nico Hülkenberg 69 8. Jenson Button 59 9. Kevin Magnussen 37 10. Felipe Massa 30 11. Sergio Pérez 29 12. Kimi Räikkönen 19 13. Jean-Éric Vergne 9 14. Romain Grosjean 8 15. Daniil Kvyat 6 16. Jules Bianchi 2 Constructors' championship Pts 1. Mercedes 366 2. Red Bull-Renault 188 3. Williams-Mercedes 121 4. Ferrari 116 5. Force India-Mercedes 98 6. McLaren-Mercedes 96 7. Toro Rosso-Renault 15 8. Lotus-Renault 8 9. Marussia-Ferrari 2 10. Sauber-Ferrari 0 11. Caterham-Renault 0