• German GP - Race

Rosberg eases to victory as Hamilton recovers to third

Laurence Edmondson at Hockenheim
July 20, 2014
Felipe Massa comes to grief at the start © Getty Images

Nico Rosberg eased his way to a home victory at the German Grand Prix on a dramatic afternoon at Hockenheim, which saw his Mercedes team-mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton toil through the pack to finish third behind Valtteri Bottas.

The Story of the Race

  • Shock: Felipe Massa being involved in first-lap crash for the second race in a row as he went spinning through the air after contact with the blameless Kevin Magnussen, wasting a great podium opportunity for the Brazilian.
  • Shocker: Toro Rosso and Renault will have to go back to the drawing board after Daniil Kvyat's race came to a premature conclusion on lap 44 in a ball of fire.
  • Best overtake: There were plenty, with Lewis Hamilton's banzai move on Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo at the hairpin much like something from his GP2 days, but Fernando Alonso's late move to get past Daniel Ricciardo - which started at Turn 6 and ended with some ballsy driving round the outside of Turn 8 - just about takes it.
  • Best lap: In a race where strategy was key there were plenty across the field, but the audacity of Nico Rosberg setting his best of the race on the final lap shows how thoroughly in command he was throughout.
  • Worst lap: Hamilton's contact with Jenson Button on lap 31 damaged his front wing, jeopardised his middle stint and forced Mercedes to switch him on to three stops, ultimately costing him a shot at second.
  • Drive of the day: Hamilton did what he had to do in the early stages of the race but made costly error with Button. He also could not past Bottas and the Finn deserves immense credit for his third straight podium finish and is a worthy winner of this accolade.
  • Nate Saunders

Rosberg's victory never looked in doubt as the track remained dry throughout, but behind him the drama unfolded, starting on lap one when Felipe Massa was flipped out of contention at the first corner. It culminated with Hamilton, who had started 20th on the grid, closing on the Williams of Bottas, but with his car hamstrung by a damaged front wing and his super-soft tyres feeling the strain of a 16-lap final stint he was unable to make a move stick.

Sebastian Vettel finished fourth - albeit 21.4s down the road from Hamilton - ahead Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, which slowed on the final lap to cross the line less than a tenth of a second ahead of the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo in sixth. Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh after a tricky afternoon, ahead of Jenson Button's McLaren, while Kevin Magnussen, who had made contact with Massa at the start, recovered to finish ninth ahead of Sergio Perez.

Rosberg made a clean start from pole position and was comfortably through the first corner by the time Massa swung across the nose of Magnussen and was flipped upside-down. The accident brought out a safety car and also forced Ricciardo wide, seeing the Red Bull drop to 14th while his team-mate Vettel took advantage to move up to third with Alonso in fourth.

The race restarted at the end of lap two, with Rosberg able to build a lead while Hamilton set about making up positions from 17th. Although he had a quicker car than those in front of him, the racing was close and he soon got caught behind Ricciardo's Red Bull. However, Hamilton had started on the soft compound tyre and was able to go longer than the cars in front, which started to pit around lap 12. On lap 13 he came up behind Kimi Raikkonen and attempted to pass the Ferrari along with Ricciardo, only to lock up both front tyres and nudge Raikkonen as he bundled his way past. It left the Ferrari with a battle wound on its front wing that Raikkonen carried to an 11th place finish, but was a risk Hamilton had to take in order to make the necessary progress through the field.

Hamilton finally pitted on lap 26, dropping him from third to eighth with more overtaking to do as he resumed behind Ricciardo. On lap 30 Hamilton came up behind Button and despite the McLaren running slightly wide at the hairpin, he still made contact, ripping the left end plate off his front wing. Mercedes opted not to change the damaged wing but from that point onwards he struggled with front-left tyre degradation, especially in his final two stints when he switched to super-soft tyres.

Ahead of him Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel resumed their battle from the British Grand Prix, taking part of Raikkonen's body work with Vettel as he and Alonso went either side of the slower Ferrari into the hairpin on lap 15. After his second stop on lap 34, Vettel returned to the track ahead of Alonso, but the Ferrari driver got back ahead on lap 36. In the end Red Bull won out as it switched Vettel onto the super-softs at his second stop, which gave him the pace to push while Alonso was slower on the softs and eventually come out comfortably in front at the final pit stops. Alonso was then in a battle with the second Red Bull of Ricciardo for several laps before finally making a move stick on lap 62 before holding him off to the end.

Adrian Sutil spun on lap 49, which threatened to bring out a safety car and neutralise the race. The Mercedes pit wall saw an opportunity for Hamilton and pitted him in the hope getting a 'free' stop while the safety car was out, but race director Charlie Whiting was happy for marshals to run across the track and recover the Sauber under double-waved yellows. For Hamilton it meant an extended 16-lap stint on the super-softs as he passed yet more cars and hunted down Bottas who was on a 26-lap final stint on the soft tyres. Hamilton closed the gap, but the impressive straight-line speed of the Williams - recorded at 346km/h - meant the Mercedes never got close enough to have a good look at taking second.

Rosberg, meanwhile, was free to soak up the atmosphere of the stadium section on his final lap and crossed the line to top off a week in which he has got married, saw his national team win the World Cup and signed a new contract with Mercedes. Understandably, he said after the race that his marriage topped the list.

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