Lewis Hamilton will go into the summer break with a nineteen point lead after a commanding victory at the Hockenheimring on Sunday as team-mate Nico Rosberg endured a tough afternoon, finishing off the podium in fourth.
Rosberg got a poor getaway, losing the lead immediately to his Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team-mate, while he also lost ground to both of the Red Bull Racing drivers, Max Verstappen getting ahead of Daniel Ricciardo around the outside of turn one.
This enabled Hamilton to get away at the front, with Rosberg unable to make inroads on the Red Bull’s ahead of him until the second pit stop window, and it was a move on Verstappen at the hairpin as the Dutchman exited the pits that saw Rosberg handed a five second time penalty for pushing Verstappen off the track.
The penalty ended Rosberg’s chance of a podium finish, and will now head into the summer break wondering how a 43-point lead earlier in the season is now a 19-point deficit to Hamilton.
Ricciardo claimed second after taking a different pit strategy to his team-mate, with his Supersoft stint after his second pit stop getting him track position as Verstappen used the Soft compound. Ricciardo was at times the fastest driver on track, giving Hamilton some motivation to set some fast times in order to maintain the gap at the front, with the gap at the chequered flag being 6.996 seconds.
The supposed stronger race pace from the Scuderia Ferrari team was never forthcoming, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen ending fifth and sixth, both more than half a minute adrift of Hamilton, with the former managing a better start than the latter to get ahead.
Nico Hülkenberg recovered from his grid penalty to claim seventh for the Sahara Force India team, making a late race pass on Williams Martini Racing’s Valtteri Bottas, who gambled on making only two pit stops compared to three for most other drivers, a gamble that saw him not only drop behind Hülkenberg but also the McLaren-Honda of Jenson Button.
Sergio Perez was a lot faster than Bottas as well but rain out of laps to knock the Finn down to tenth, but the Mexican was able to claim the final point on offer in the second Force India, passing Fernando Alonso with just a handful of laps remaining as the McLaren seemingly suffered due to extreme fuel saving.
Alonso also lost out on the final lap to the Haas of Esteban Gutierrez, who claimed his fourth eleventh place finish of the season and is still looking for his first point of the year. Gutierrez was the only driver to take the start on the Soft compound tyre, but made a lacklustre getaway to lose a number of positions, and could have been a points contender had he made a better start.
Romain Grosjean took the second Haas to thirteenth despite talking over the radio about smoke coming from the back of his VF16 around mid-distance, but the car held on with his mechanics not finding anything abnormal on their data.
Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat brought their Scuderia Toro Rosso cars home down in fourteenth and fifteenth as the promised tricky afternoon on the power-hungry Spa circuit with the year-old Ferrari engine came to fruition.
Kevin Magnussen was at one point running inside the points for the Renault Sport F1 team but dropped to sixteenth at the chequered flag after gambling on a two-stop strategy that ultimately was not the right call.
Pascal Wehrlein finished ahead of Marcus Ericsson in the Manor Racing versus Sauber F1 Team battle, albeit down in seventeenth and eighteenth, both of whom finished ahead of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, who’s promising grid position came to nothing after a first lap clash with Felipe Massa saw him forced to pit out of sequence, leaving him at the back of the field, finishing ahead of only the Manor of Rio Haryanto.
Palmer’s clash with Massa cost the Williams driver some performance as he dropped further and further down the order before ultimately pulling into the pit lane to retire, meaning the veteran Brazilian has now only scored two points across the last seven races.
The only other retirement was of the second Sauber of Felipe Nasr, who made a good start from the back of the grid to make a number of places up into turn one but never had the pace to stay there, and stopped at the entry of the pit lane with a handful of laps to go.
Formula 1 now takes a well-earned three-week break before the next round at Spa-Francorchamps, but it is clear it will be Hamilton who’ll head into the break in a happier frame of mind than Rosberg.
Hockenheimring Race Result
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