Lewis Hamilton wins the German Grand Prix.
From pole to fourth via a poor start and penalty for racing Verstappen, the German Grand Prix saw Rosberg falter as Hamilton took victory. Now the man who sat 43-points back in the championship enters the summer break with a 19-point championship lead.
When the lights went out and the 2016 German Grand Prix got underway, Hamilton and Rosberg’s initial launches were a match. But when the second phase kicked in, Rosberg spun his rear wheels and Hamilton sawed into the first corner with the lead.
The Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo too took advantage of the poor-starting pole-sitter to get ahead of the pole-sitter by the first corner. With Verstappen too gaining ground on Ricciardo as he ran around the outside with Daniel slow on the apex.
Not only did Hamilton take the lead and Rosberg fall to fourth, the start of the race saw the order throughout the field shake-up – with Button gaining ground for ninth as Perez fell down to 15th.
Further starting drama ruined Massa’s race, as Jolyon Palmer rolled into the rear crash structure of the Williams. From that moment at turn six, Massa lost pace to all cars around him. Losing a drag race with Alonso into turn seven, and nearly crashing with Sainz at the hairpin as Felipe cornered slowly.
The turn six hairpin became the corner of the race, with the heavy braking zone allowing multiple overtakes across the 67-laps. But when the Manor’s raced each other early on, Haryanto was left with front wing damage as Wehrlein crossed lines.
After Sainz negotiated his way ahead of Massa, before the Brazilian fought back, Magnussen joined the joust. The Renault driver would go on to take positions from both drivers when they pitted – but as Sainz took the place on Massa at turn eight, Magnussen snuck ahead of the Williams too.
Along with Massa and Sainz, other drivers were pitting as they complained early on that their rear tyres had begun to drop off. Among those were the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo, who opted to take on split strategies at their first stops.
Mercedes too split their strategies as they looked to get Rosberg ahead of the Red Bulls. Meanwhile, Hamilton controlled a six-second lead out in front.
The split strategy, however, did not pay off for Hamilton and Ricciardo. As the drivers who kept to the two-stop ‘Plan A’ were later forced onto a three-stop race.
In the meantime, all four leading drivers were controlling the race compared to Ferrari. With the Italian outfit lapping with comparable times to the leaders, but failing to present any challenge.
Further down the order, Massa was falling further down the order as Magnussen and Sainz again made their way ahead of the Williams. Felipe was now lapping two seconds slower than even his team-mate with the rear damage he sustained at the start of the race proving too severe to carry on and he swiftly retired from the race.
Unable to reduce the gap to the Red Bulls, Rosberg pulled into the pit lane again to attempt an undercut on Verstappen. And after an aggressive out-lap from the German, Verstappen peeled out of the pit lane just six-tenths of a second ahead of the Mercedes.
Now running in close proximity, Nico saw his chance to move ahead of the Red Bull at the hairpin.
Taking the inside line, Nico darted from far back to put Verstappen behind his Silver Arrow. But a slight change of direction under braking by Verstappen caused Rosberg to go deep into the corner, in a situation similar to the final lap in Austria when Rosberg collected Hamilton.
Unlike in Austria, though, no contact was made between the two drivers as Nico edged Verstappen over the track limits. A move the stewards deemed to be unfair and punished Rosberg with a five-second time penalty.
Rosberg, on the other hand, felt the situation was justified with Max changing his direction under braking. Claiming over the radio he put full lock into his steering wheel – although replies showed the lock was inputted once beyond the apex. Braking any earlier, however, could have caused Nico to lock up.
When Hamilton and Ricciardo later made their final stops of the race, Rosberg found himself running in second place between his team-mate and the Red Bulls. With Hamilton comfortably out in front controlling his pace to preserve his engine.
Ricciardo was applying a different strategy to his final stint than Lewis as he charged on to reduce the gap to Rosberg and Verstappen. With Verstappen, running a different strategy, opting not to defend from Ricciardo as the Australian came charging up behind.
Rosberg, though, was left peeling back into the pits for his final change and to serve his five-second penalty. Putting Rosberg back down to fourth place by five seconds and outside the podium positions after sitting stationary for eight seconds before the team set to work on his car. The cause of this, the Mercedes stopwatch failed.
Still charging, Ricciardo was beginning to take chunks out of Hamilton’s lead. Although once Lewis came out of his cruise mode, he replied with personal best sectors to retain his advantage for the win. Meaning Lewis enters the summer break with a 19-point lead over Rosberg for the Drivers’ Championship.
With spots of rain beginning to fall with the final laps, Alonso was falling back into the clutches of Perez in the battle for the final point. To make Fernando’s situation worse was the oncoming Red Bulls looking to lap the McLaren – costing Fernando time in his battle with Perez.
Perez himself lost time to Alonso when Verstappen came through, but a lock up by Fernando reduced that gap by the second corner. Another lock up soon after at the hairpin then handed Perez the chance to get ahead when Fernando utilised DRS on Verstappen to carry more speed into turn 6.
The pair went side by side out of the corner, with Perez on the inside. And with better traction, Perez gained the position for the final point while Button pushed the other McLaren further into the points.
Jenson had been forced to start fuel saving earlier into the final stint. But with Bottas running on 31-lap old soft tyres he easily moved ahead of the sole-remaining Williams for eighth. Alonso, however, lost another place to the late-charging Gutierrez to come home in 12th.
|8||Jenson Button||1 Lap||4|
|9||Valtteri Bottas||1 Lap||2|
|10||Sergio Perez||1 Lap||1|
|11||Esteban Gutierrez||1 Lap|
|12||Fernando Alonso||1 Lap|
|13||Romain Grosjean||1 Lap|
|14||Carlos Sainz Jr.||1 Lap|
|15||Daniil Kvyat||1 Lap|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||1 Lap|
|17||Pascal Wehrlein||2 Laps|
|18||Marcus Ericsson||2 Laps|
|19||Jolyon Palmer||2 Laps|
|20||Rio Haryanto||2 Laps|