Nico Rosberg cruised to a dominant win on home soil at the German Grand Prix.
Rosberg drove a controlled race, leading from lights to flag to secure his first ever win at home and Mercedes’ first Formula 1 win in Germany since 1954. Valtteri Bottas came home a distant second, collecting his third consecutive podium finish, and the 300th for Williams in F1, while Lewis Hamilton rounded out the podium for Mercedes, after a storming drive from 20th on the grid.
As the lights went out Rosberg stormed into an early lead, but there was drama behind the German as Kevin Magnussen locked wheels with Felipe Massa into turn one, the Brazilian’s Willliams vaulting onto its rollover hoop and sliding across the run-off before coming to rest the right way up against the tyre barriers, with a safety car immediately deployed.
The safety car was in on lap three, releasing Rosberg at the front of the field, as the Mercedes man eked out an early advantage from the sole remaining Williams of Valtteri Bottas, while behind the leaders Daniel Ricciado – who lost track position in the opening lap melee – and Lewis Hamilton, who started just 20th, sliced their way through the field.
Rosberg was into the pits on lap 15, shadowed by the chasing Bottas, retaining the race lead from the Finn by a comfortable 10 seconds, with Hamilton up into third ahead of his first stop, but 15 seconds shy of the race leader.
The 2008 champion was in at the end of lap 26, rejoining eighth behind Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, but Hamilton was soon past the Australian, comfortably the quickest man on track on his fresh tyres following a long opening stint.
Hamilton attempted a similar move on Jenson Button a lap later into the hairpin, but in a moment of confusion over the intention of his former team-mate damaged the left endplate of his front wing against the rear of the McLaren.
While Rosberg continued his lonely drive out front, Hamilton was soon past Button Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India, promoted back into third following Alonso and Vettel’s second round of stops.
Rosberg was in on lap 41, retaining a 15 second advantage over Bottas, who rejoined just ahead of Alonso’s Ferrari and a fuel saving Vettel, with Hamilton into the pits two laps later from second for a set of super-soft tyres.
The 2008 champion made light work of Fernando Alonso before jumping into the pits for his third and final stop on lap 51 following Adrian Sutil’s spin at the final corner, Mercedes pre-empting a safety car that proved unneeded as the mats halls cleared the stricken Sauber under double-waved yellows.
While Rosberg coasted unchallenged to his fourth win of the season, Hamilton set about chasing down Bottas for second following his third and final stop, the Briton reeling in the Finn over the final laps, but proving ultimately unable to pass the Williams man, who completed a hat-trick of podium finishes with second.
Vettel came home fourth in the lead Red Bull after a race long battle with Alonso, who had to fight his way past Ricciardo late on for fifth, the Australian missing out on fifth by less than a second to the Spaniard at the chequered flag.
Nico Hulkenberg extended his run of points finishes with seventh for Force India, ahead of the two McLarens of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnuseen, the Dane having fought back to ninth after his first lap tangle with Massa which dropped him to the back of the field.
Sergio Perez rounded out the top ten in the second of the Force India cars, pipping Kimi Raikkonen to the last point on offer.
Pastor Maldonado came home a respectable 12th for Lotus, but his team-mate Romain Grosjean failed to finish after a power problem forced him to stop out on track after just 26 laps.
Jean-Eric Vergne was just 13th after being handed a stop/go penalty for exceeding track limits and gaining an advantage, while his team-mate Daniil Kvyat experienced an eventful race, colliding with Perez early-on before his car burst into flames down at the hairpin on lap 44, forcing him into a quick exit and out of the grand prix.
Esteban Gutierrez was the sole Sauber at the finish, the Mexican coming home 14th, ahead of the Marussia of Jules Bianchi, who fought back from a slow start off the grid.
Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson were classified 16th and 18th respectively for Caterham, with max Chilton sandwiched between the pair in the second of the Marussias.
German Grand Prix – Provisional Classification
1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1h33:42.914
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
Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS