Recap the German Grand Prix with eight talking points from round 12.
Hamilton’s victory and Nico’s poor start meant the Briton, and reigning Formula One champion, went into the summer break with the championship lead in his luggage. Overcoming a 43-point deficit with a 62-point swing in just six races.
1) Hamilton wins with Rosberg on pole
From the first session of the weekend, Hamilton was on the back foot to Rosberg as Nico opened his home Grand Prix weekend by setting the fastest time in each practice session.
Nico’s dominance then carried on into qualifying, despite Lewis topping the first two stages. Seeing Rosberg edge Hamilton for pole after overcoming an electronic error presenting warning lights all over the German’s steering wheel during his first run.
But come the race, Rosberg got his start all wrong and eased out of his grid slot slowly as Hamilton blasted by and into the lead. From there, Lewis again nurtured his power unit – only pushing on his in-laps and when Ricciardo briefly posed a threat late on.
Hamilton’s sixth victory of the season – and fourth in a row – means he retained the championship lead going into the summer break. Having only just taken the lead for the first time this season after victory at the Hungaroring.
Rosberg, on the other hand, having lead since the first race of the year goes into the summer break 19-points down on his team-mate. Although Rosberg still faces at least one race where a strong points-haul over Lewis is possible with Hamilton facing a full power unit change after early season unreliability.
2) Consistent stewards penalise Rosberg
After his poor start left Rosberg running behind both Red Bulls, a change of strategy and a strong out-lap saw Verstappen peel out of the pits just ahead of the pole-sitter.
Then with slipstream, for the long run to turn six, Rosberg looked to put Verstappen behind his gearbox at the hairpin. But Nico’s late move forced Verstappen off the track, a situation the race stewards deemed to be too aggressive – handing Rosberg a five-second-time penalty.
It was the second time in four races that Rosberg has been handed a penalty for his on-track antics – having forced Hamilton off the track in Austria, damaging his front wing on his way from first to fourth.
Rosberg’s move on Hamilton in Austria when defending the lead, however, was clearly overly aggressive, as he forced Hamilton deep and caused a collision.
His move on Verstappen, though, was far cleaner and no contact was made. Verstappen also did not need to run off track, with Rosberg already ahead having sent his car down the inside. When Verstappen attempted to retain his place, though, Rosberg eased the Red Bull out of road – which is standard defending when attacking for a position.
3) Red Bull solidify their position over Ferrari
Red Bull’s position ahead of Ferrari in the battle to be the second-best constructor looked to be solidifying further after the Hungarian Grand Prix and their European form.
Now, after yet another strong outing resulting in a double podium finish for the first time since Hungary 2015, Red Bull has moved ahead of Ferrari in the constructor’s standings by 14-points.
As noted multiple times this season, Ferrari appeared to have the upper hand on Red Bull coming out of the winter break – and challenging Mercedes for victory in Australia.
But while Ferrari had a few early season chances to take victory, Red Bull took their chance in Spain when the Silver Arrows collided – and have built upon their victory since.
Ferrari meanwhile, has gone in the other direction amidst development shortfalls and the loss of James Allison – their former technical chief who stepped down from his role after the loss of his wife.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said: “In Canada, we reacted quite well with the engine.
“But if I look at the situation now and I go back, I think we don’t have great improvements in terms of downforce since Barcelona. That is the problem.
4) Gutierrez’s blue flags antics scrutinised again
In Hungary, Hamilton lost time to Rosberg as he negotiated his way through lapped traffic – especially the Haas of Gutierrez who held back the race leader while looking for a clean place to allow the Mercedes through.
This time round in Germany, Ricciardo’s outburst of “he’s one of my favourites, I love this guy” brought Esteban’s racing into question as he held the Red Bull back despite the blue flags waving.
When questioned about the incident in the post-race press conference by Motorsport Total, Ricciardo replied: “err… yeah. To be honest, off the track, I have no problem at all with Esteban.
“I think he’s actually one of the nicer guys – but just on the track just lately, it’s come up the last few races that a few of us haven’t been that impressed with the blue flags.
“We’ve discussed it in drivers’ meetings. I’ve been in the position and I know it sucks, it sucks to move out of the line and let the leaders through – but it seems particularly the last three races in a row…
“Everyone is doing an OK job and it seems like he’s doing a less good job than the others.”
5) Vettel against Ferrari strategy
Running in fifth place, ahead of Raikkonen, Vettel was called into the pits by Ferrari as they looked for an ambitious undercut on Verstappen for fourth.
At the time of the call, Vettel was running eight-seconds behind the Red Bull – while an undercut is generally worth two-seconds. But the Italian outfit felt they were still in a battle with the Bull. Vettel had other ideas, though, and refused to pit. Replying: “Who do you want to undercut, they’re miles away?”
Ferrari then accepted Vettel’s view and told their driver not to pit, before calling Sebastian in to stop after Verstappen rolled down the pit lane.
6) Thirsty Honda, advancing McLaren
As the German Grand Prix approached its climax and the summer break loomed, both McLarens were running in the points.
Unfortunately for the Woking outfit, the high fuel usage of the Honda power unit forced Button and Alonso to save fuel – resulting in Fernando dropping back and eventually losing his place in the points.
Jenson, on the other hand, promoted himself further through the field as Bottas struggled late on with tyre degradation slashing his Williams’ performance.
Although the Honda power unit’s thirst for fuel cost Alonso a points finish at the Hockenheimring, the development rate of the McLaren in 2016 has promoted them strongly into the midfield after a dire 2015.
Giving McLaren the chance to return from the summer break and continue their push up the standings – with Toro Rosso just three-points down the road.
Toro Rosso also faces the prospect of their 2015 Ferrari power unit not being up to standards as other PU providers develop their units.
7) Verstappen’s a team player
While at Toro Rosso in his debut season, Verstappen presented himself as a driver who would take a few chances when overtaking. And during the final stages of the Singapore Grand Prix, Verstappen presented himself as a driver who would not yield to his team-mate for the benefit of the team.
In Germany, though, the Verstappen seen under the floodlights of Singapore was not present as he allowed Ricciardo through for second – with his team-mate running a contrasting strategy to his young stablemate.
Sporting a contrasting compound of Pirelli rubber, Ricciardo had the pace advantage over Verstappen. But in order not to take any life out of his team-mate’s tyres, Verstappen kept to the inside of the curved straight as the Australian zipped ahead.
8) Pirelli begins testing 2017 rubber
With the demand for higher mechanical grip ahead of the raft of changes coming in 2017, Pirelli has begun testing their rubber with mule cars provided by Red Bull and Ferrari.
The mule cars provided have been specially adapted from the original designs in order to replicate the aerodynamics of the faster cars coming and to accommodate the wider rear tyres Pirelli are developing. Adaptations include shallower rear wings and side skirts to replicate ‘ground effect’.
Ferrari was first to run the 2017 rubber at Fiorano with Vettel taking the car for an install run on the slicks before switching for inters and full wets. Ferrari’s 2015 test driver and now Haas racer, Esteban Gutierrez, then stepped into the Scuderia on day two before running changed hands and track – with Red Bull running slick tyres at Mugello.