Rosberg to the four: German GP review

By on Sunday, July 20, 2014
Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Nico Rosberg’s 2014 season took a turn for the worse at Silverstone as he saw 25 points slip from his grasp, but since then he’s ridden the crest of a wave.

He married his long-term girlfriend, Vivian, and then watched as his beloved German national football team emerged victorious at the World Cup. If that wasn’t all, he then put pen to paper and signed a contract extension with Mercedes. Little wonder, then, that a dominant lights-to-flag victory at Hockenheim was merely the icing on top of the cake.

As with Silverstone two weeks ago, a mechanical gremlin denied the watching audience the chance to see a straight fight between Rosberg and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton’s prospects of overhauling Rosberg in the title battle ended when his right front brake disc failed as he approached turn 13 during the first segment of qualifying. He was powerless to prevent his W05 Hybrid from impacting the tyre barriers but he was able to walk away from a nasty shunt, albeit facing a game of damage limitation during a race in which he was to line up from 20th on the grid, with the Marussias and Caterhams for company.

Rosberg duly converted his pole position into the lead as the lights went out but behind him, one slow Williams led to another going for a roll. Valtteri Bottas bogged down but still made the apex in second place. The faster-starting Felipe Massa and Kevin Magnussen swarmed all over Bottas, but had to stay behind. Massa, on the outside, cut across to the apex but didn’t consider that he would find a McLaren in the way. The duo made contact, with Massa being flipped into the run-off area and Magnussen going wide. Daniel Ricciardo, following close behind, had to take avoiding action and dropped to 15th. Sebastian Vettel was the main beneficiary as he was promoted to third, ahead of Fernando Alonso, Nico Hülkenberg, Jenson Button, Daniil Kvyat and Sergio Pérez.

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

The Safety Car was immediately deployed to recover Massa’s car. The Brazilian was in no doubt over who was to blame for the contact.

"I was in front, I was doing the corner in front of him," said Massa. "If anyone needs to watch, it is the car behind. It is normally a guy who comes from GP2 who causes this accident.”

Magnussen, who never actually raced in GP2, thought otherwise.

“For sure if I had another place to go I wouldn't have had contact. I'm sorry about the situation, but I did my best and tried to avoid him, but I didn't really have anything to do.”

Once the Safety Car came back in Rosberg pulled away from Bottas and Vettel as frantic racing was in action across the remainder of the field.

Ricciardo and Hamilton surged through from their lowly positions, with several drivers making minor contact into the hairpin. Kvyat came off worst as he attempted to go around the outside of Pérez, who had passed him on the restart, at turn eight, but closed the door prematurely and ended up spinning into the run-off. He recovered, but was outside the top 10 and later retired when his car spectacularly caught fire.

Rosberg continued to lead from Bottas, while third place changed hands as Alonso and Vettel tried to get the undercut on each other. Vettel came out of his second stop narrowly ahead but Alonso had a lap under his belt to snatch the position. After the third round of stops it was Vettel who profited, while Alonso had to make his way through on Ricciardo.

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

The Australian, who had pulled off a series of fine moves, did his best to hold on to his position but on older primes, as opposed to Alonso’s newer options, he eventually had to play second fiddle. Nonetheless, it was a superb battle between two top drivers and Ricciardo didn’t give up as he crossed the line just 0.082s down on Alonso.

Hamilton had clawed his way back up to third, via a few hairy moments, the hairiest being when he erroneously believed that Button was handing him a position on a plate.

“A lot of drivers take a wider entry line into Turn Six in order to get a better exit – perhaps Lewis expected me to let him past, but why would I let anybody through? We were racing,” said a perplexed Button.

Hamilton tagged his front wing in the incident and lost some downforce, but he ploughed on and pitted for a third time just as Adrian Sutil spun his Sauber exiting the last corner. Somewhat surprisingly, race control opted not to deploy the Safety Car and allowed a trio of marshals to sprint across the active track in order to retrieve the stricken machine.

Hamilton sliced into the advantage held by second placed Bottas but whereas he had picked off other rivals with ease, he found the Williams much tougher going. Bottas, to his credit, did a superb job to manage his older tyres with aplomb and nail the exits of turn three and turn six for the last few laps. Hamilton would have to settle for third.

Vettel dealt with Alonso and came in fourth, while the Spaniard continued his battle with Ricciardo until the finish. Hülkenberg slipped back to seventh but had to battle with several engine issues, while Button’s attempt at a two stop failed and he pitted late, dropping to eighth. Ninth went to a recovering Magnussen and Pérez took the final point for 10th.

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

Elsewhere Kimi Räikkönen’s difficult season continued as he could manage only 11th after being hit by a couple of rivals which led to damage and compromised his aggressive tyre strategy, while Pastor Maldonado did well to finish 12th in the recalcitrant Lotus. Jean-Éric Vergne was penalised five seconds for exceeding track limits in a battle with Romain Grosjean but it had no effect on his 13th place (although he was handed a penalty point as well). Esteban Gutiérrez achieved the norm in the Sauber, while Jules Bianchi beat Kamui Kobayashi to 15th. Max Chilton was a little further back and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the finishers after having to start from the pits and serve an early penalty. Grosjean failed to finish due to an issue with the cooling system.

Up front there were no such problems for Rosberg, whose fourth victory of the year enabled him to extend his title advantage over team-mate Hamilton to 14 points.

"Wow, what a great day after so many great events for me this week,” he said. “I came here hoping for a win and it worked out perfectly. We were again the quickest out there. I did a two stop strategy, which was difficult to manage at the end of the stints as the tyres were almost gone. I'm so happy for Mercedes; it was the first win for many many years in Germany. Thanks for the support here at Hockenheim, the fans were amazing to me."

16Nico RosbergMercedes67Winner125
277Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes67+20.7 secs218
344Lewis HamiltonMercedes67+22.5 secs2015
41Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault67+44.0 secs612
514Fernando AlonsoFerrari67+52.4 secs710
63Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault67+52.5 secs58
727Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes67+64.1 secs96
822Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes67+84.7 secs114
920Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes66+1 Lap42
1011Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes66+1 Lap101
117Kimi RäikkönenFerrari+1 Lap12
1213Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault+1 Lap18
1325Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault+1 Lap13
1421Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari+1 Lap16
1517Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari+1 Lap17
1610Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault+2 Lap19
174Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari+2 Lap21
189Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault+2 Lap22
Ret99Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari+20 Laps15
Ret26Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault+23 Laps8
Ret8Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault+41 Laps14
Ret19Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes+67 Laps3
Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

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