Rack up another German victory after last Sunday’s triumph in the football: Nico Rosberg never looked in the slightest trouble as he dominated his home Grand Prix, keeping clear of problems during an eventful afternoon at Hockenheim to lead the race from start to finish. All the thrills came from Lewis Hamilton, making up for a disastrous qualifying result for the second race in a row by slogging his way through the pack from 20th to take third place and minimise his teammate’s championship advantage.
Valtteri Bottas maintained Williams’ reputation as the season’s most improved team, holding off Hamilton in the closing laps to finish second and take Williams’ 300th podium. Teammate Felipe Massa didn’t fare so well – a first lap collision with Kevin Magnussen left the Brazilian’s car off the track and upside down, bringing out the safety car.
Sebastian Vettel finished ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo for only the second time this year, the Red Bulls taking fourth and sixth, with Fernando Alonso between them. The remaining points went to Nico Hulkenberg, Jenson Button, Kevin Magnussen and Sergio Perez.
Just like Silverstone, Hamilton was the most mobile man on the track, moving up to eleventh by lap ten, before taking Ricciardo and Raikkonen in one move on lap 13 for sixth. Ex-teammate Jenson Button proved the most troublesome obstacle, damaging Lewis’ front wing as the Mercedes slipped past the McLaren at the turn six hairpin. And If screen time equated to championship points, then, there’s no doubt that Lewis would be out in front – he’s made up 22 places in the last two races alone. As for Nico Rosberg, for all we know he could have been chilling in the garage until the very last lap, so absent was he from the broadcast director’s gaze. Being simply exciting to watch will be of no comfort to Lewis, of course – as skilful as he looked today, he trails Nico by 14 points going into next weekend’s race in Hungary.
With the two so easily matched in terms of pace, the season looks set to be decided by two things: reliability and qualifying form. Assuming they’re equally afflicted by Mercedes’ considerable technical gremlins, Saturdays become all the more important, and at the moment, the blonde half of team Mercedes clearly has the edge. Even before he hit brake trouble, Lewis was a full second slower than Nico in Q1 on Saturday.
However, if Lewis is going to sort his qualifying out, Hungary seems a likely place for the 2008 champion to do it. He’s won the race four times before, and claimed pole there three times. Rosberg, meanwhile, has never qualified higher than fourth. But having watched his country win the World Cup, gotten married and won his home Grand Prix from pole in the past week, don’t bet against Rosberg as the man with all the momentum…