Nico Rosberg has extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings with a dominant lights-to-flag victory on home soil at the German Grand Prix. Rosberg headed a Mercedes power podium lockout, beating home fellow front-row starter Valtteri Bottas by over 20 seconds, who was himself chased over the line by a hard-charging Lewis Hamilton.
The 67-lap race was marred by another frightening opening-lap accident for Felipe Massa, who was tipped upside-down at the first corner by McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen. The race itself featured plenty of overtaking, while overnight rain and slightly cooler temperatures kept concerns about extreme tyre wear somewhat abated.
After Lewis Hamilton’s qualifying crash, Mercedes successfully petitioned to change his braking material without being forced to start from the pit lane, however the Englishman’s gearbox was damaged in the Saturday smash. That had to be changed too, and so he was demoted five grid spots to twentieth on the grid for the start of the race.
As the lights went out, Rosberg converted pole into a sizeable gap by Turn 1, and he was never challenged thereon. Behind him there was drama: Bottas, Massa and a fast-starting Kevin Magnussen found themselves going three-wide into the right-hander, triggering inevitable contact as Massa turned in on the McLaren. The Brazilian’s left-rear wheel rode over the top of the Dane’s right front, tipping the Williams into a frightening roll.
Daniel Ricciardo escaped to the run-off in the melee and was lucky to avoid being collected by the errant Williams; Massa clambered from his battered car, furious at being eliminated on the opening lap for the second race running.
The Safety Car was called while the mess was cleared up, allowing Magnussen to make a precautionary visit to the pits and take on a fresh set of the Soft compound Pirelli tyres.
Racing quickly resumed and Rosberg again skipped away into the lead, ultimately claiming victory by over 20 seconds at the end of the 67-lap race to become the first German driver to win on home soil in a German car. It was his fourth win of the 2014 season, putting him a valuable 14 points clear of Hamilton in the championship standings.
Such was the wheel-to-wheel action behind, Rosberg’s run to victory was almost invisible. Hamilton predictably provided most of the highlights as he delivered another customary ‘burn from the stern’ drive to complete the podium, running out of tyres and laps to mount a challenge on Bottas’ second place.
The Englishman’s opening stint was particularly impressive, although not without a few scares along the way as he made contact with a number of runners at the Hockenheimring’s most popular overtaking point: the hairpin.
He made contact with Sauber’s Adrian Sutil, Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen and former McLaren teammate Jenson Button in separate incidents over the course of the race; the final clash saw him knock a number of winglets off the left side of his front wing. That would ultimately prove a decisive factor in his inability to close down and overtake Bottas in the final laps.
Despite having considerably more straightline speed than the Finn, Hamilton didn’t have enough front end grip through the corners to keep close enough to the Williams in front.
Another factor at play was Mercedes’ decision to pull Hamilton into the pits for a third pit stop when Adrian Sutil spun and stalled his Sauber at the final corner. The German’s car was stranded sideways at the exit of the corner, triggering pit stops for a number of runners in anticipation of a Safety Car. Incredibly, the brave marshals managed to remove the stricken car under double-waved yellow flags. Bottas didn’t pit but Hamilton did.
Sebastian Vettel finished fourth in the Red Bull Racing Renault, with he and teammate Daniel Ricciardo sandwiching the fifth-placed Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. The German’s run to the finish was largely without drama, as this time the Ferrari-Red Bull battle was between Alonso and Ricciardo.
The pair staged a monumental and hugely entertaining battle for fifth place in the final third of the race, as both repeatedly swapped positions in a closely-fought – but ultimately clean – fight that had fans on the edge of their seats. The pair crossed the finish line less than one-tenth of a second apart.
Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg ran a two-stop strategy – like Rosberg and Bottas – but his Mercedes-powered car simply wasn’t a match in the outright speed stakes to give the German a better result. His seventh-placed effort continued his impressive run of points’ finishes to twelve in a row (his first was in last year’s United States Grand Prix).
The McLarens of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen finished eighth and ninth. Both carried battle scars from the race that ultimately prevented them finishing higher up the order. Magnussen’s recovery was largely unseen by the cameras, but it was another impressive outing from the youngster who was sensibly not penalised for his clash with Massa.
Sergio Pérez completed the points in his Force India to give the team its sixth double-points finish of the season. The Mexican survived contact with Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso in the opening laps; the Russian inexplicably tried to squeeze his rival at Turn 8 and only succeeded in getting himself spun into the run-off.
Kvyat would later retired when his car suffered a spectacular drivetrain failure and caught fire; he and fellow Renault-runner Romain Grosjean were the only mechanically-induced retirements, with the latter suffering a sudden loss of power in his Lotus.
Speaking of Lotus, the black-and-gold E22s appeared to struggle the most as the entire field disabled their much-talked-about FRIC suspension systems. Both Grosjean and teammate Pastor Maldonado struggled with the handling of their cars, which looked skittish through all corners around the circuit.
Aside from when they were being overtaken or lapped, the only entertainment they provided was through their social media channel courtesy of a number of pithy observations on their Twitter feed. “Anyone got a number for breakdown recovery?” they wrote after Grosjean’s retirement. “You’d have thought we’d have it written down by now…”
Speaking of disastrous weekends, the less said about poor Kimi Räikkönen, the better – but that wouldn’t be our style. The Finn had another low key performance in his Ferrari F14T – describing it as a mobile chicane would perhaps be more appropriate – as he struggled with rapidly fading tyres, finishing a lapped eleventh as questions about his future in the series continue to mount.
The field will quickly pack up and de-camp from an entertaining hit-out in Germany and head into eastern Europe for next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the last race before a four-week mid-season break.
2014 German Formula 1 Grand Prix – Final Classification (67 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||67||1:33:42.914|
|2.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||67||+ 20.789|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||67||+ 22.539|
|4.||Sebastian Vettel||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||67||+ 44.014|
|5.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||67||+ 52.467|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||67||+ 52.549|
|7.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||67||+ 1:04.178|
|8.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||67||+ 1:24.711|
|9.||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||66||1 lap behind|
|10.||Sergio Pérez||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||66||1 lap behind|
|11.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||66||1 lap behind|
|12.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||66||1 lap behind|
|13.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||66||1 lap behind|
|14.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||66||1 lap behind|
|15.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||66||1 lap behind|
|16.||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||65||2 laps behind|
|17.||Max Chilton||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||65||2 laps behind|
|18.||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||65||2 laps behind|
|DNF.||Adrian Sutil||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||50||Spin|
|DNF.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||44||Oil Leak|
|DNF.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||26||Engine|
|DNF.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||0||Collision|
Image via Sutton Images and XPB Images
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