Rosberg adds to lead as Hamilton recovers for podium

2014 German Grand Prix review

Mercedes revelled in another triumph on their home ground at the Hockenheimring. Never before in the history of the world championship had a German driver won the German Grand Prix in a German car.

Nico Rosberg therefore achieved a significant first. While one could argue he is as much a Finn as he is a German, and note that the Stuttgart-financed Mercedes cars are built in Northamptonshire, Rosberg’s racing licence and Mercedes’ championship entry both say ‘Deutschland’, so there was just cause for plenty of national pride.

But Mercedes’ satisfaction wasn’t complete. For the first time in 2014 a healthy W05 crossed the finishing line with a car in front of it which wasn’t the team’s other chassis. This first defeat came about thanks to a confluence of circumstances – the first of which occurred 24 hours previously.

Massa flips out

Start, Hockenheimring, 2014As Mercedes go into every race as clear favourites in 2014, Rosberg’s victory seemed inevitable he would from the moment his team mate’s broken brake disc pitched him into a barrier during qualifying.

Once the grid penalties had been factored in, a bruised but unbowed Hamilton lined up behind every single other car apart from Max Chilton’s Marussia and Marcus Ericsson’s Caterham – the latter starting from the pits. Even so, such has been Mercedes’ performance advantage this season Hamilton must have fancied his chances of recovering to second behind his team mate.

But from the start things didn’t go quite Hamilton’s way. A first-corner tangle between a blameless Kevin Magnussen and a careless Felipe Massa did have the beneficial effect of getting them out of his way. But the immediately deployment of the Safety Car to right Massa’s inverted Williams brought Hamilton’s first-lap assault on the tail-enders to an abrupt end.

Worse for Hamilton, the delayed Daniel Ricciardo was now not far in front of him, and once the race resumed Hamilton soon found himself losing time behind the Red Bull.

Hamilton takes on Ricciardo

Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Hockenheimring, 2014When the race restarted Rosberg retained his lead ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who had been under pressure from Magnussen and Massa when the pair tripped over each other.

With those two out of the way, Sebastian Vettel now held third ahead of Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button.

Further back Hamilton was 17th, three places higher than he’d started. He dispensed with four of the slower cars in the next three laps and was now on the tail of Ricciardo, who was making similarly rapid progress.

It wasn’t rapid enough for Hamilton, however, who applied pressure to the Red Bull driver as they caught and passed Adrian Sutil and Jean-Eric Vergne.

By lap 11 they were on Kimi Raikkonen’s tail and now things got really interesting. Hamilton took the inside line as they approached the Spitzkehre – the slowest corner on the lap – but with Raikkonen in front he couldn’t make the move stick.

Despite having to fend off Hamilton, Ricciardo’s traction was good enough for him to catch Raikkonen unaware and dive down the inside at turn eight. Now he had the Ferrari as a buffer between him and Hamilton. The Mercedes driver made an audacious bid to follow him as they entered the Motodrom section, but had to give best to Raikkonen.

But Ricciardo had enjoyed the best of his super-soft tyres and two laps later they were beginning to wilt. Raikkonen took to the inside at the Spitzkehre but left enough room to his right for Hamilton to mug the pair of them, locking up and clouting the Ferrari as he went.

The next time by Hamilton blasted past Sergio Perez in the DRS zone with far less drama. Button, Vettel and Bottas pitted over the next three laps so that by the 17th tour the traditional 2014 Mercedes one-two was restored. However Rosberg was 7.5 seconds up the road – and unlike Hamilton he’d already got his first pit stop out of the way.

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Costly contact for Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Hockenheimring, 2014Had Hamilton’s race run according to plan from here on it’s likely he would have finished in that second place. When he came in on lap 27 he needed another 26-lap stint on soft tyres to reach the finish with just one further pit stop.

But it went wrong when he arrived on Button’s tail on lap 30, and mistakenly believed his former team mate was making way for him. It wasn’t an unreasonable assumption – the imperative of conserving tyres and fuel at different points in the race means sometimes drivers have to choose their battles, and Button did take a particularly wide line into the Spitzkehre on lap 30. Hamilton grasped at it, and by the time he realised Button wasn’t pulling aside it was too late, and he ripped the front-left part of his front wing off on Button’s sidepod.

Hamilton recognised his mistake and even gave Button a wave of acknowledgement when he flew past the McLaren in the DRS zone on the next lap. But that damage to the left-hand side of his front wing gave him more trouble with his tyres in the laps that followed, and eventually wrecked his hopes of completing the race with a two-stop strategy.

The team surrendered to the inevitable on lap 42, bringing Hamilton in for the first of two short stints on the super-soft tyre. This would still give him a chance of attacking Bottas at the end of the race on a reasonably fresh set of super-softs.

But eight laps after Hamilton’s pit stop Sutil’s Sauber got away from him at the final corner and he spun to a stop. Expecting a Safety Car, Mercedes summoned him into the pits to take advantage of it. But it turned out to be the opposite of his Monaco dilemma – on that occasion he expected a Safety Car but didn’t come into the pits, and one was deployed. This time he did come in – but the race stayed green.

That surprised many people, not least Hamilton’s own team mate. “I definitely got a bit worried when I saw Sutil’s car out there because I was sure there was going to be a Safety Car,” said Rosberg afterwards, “and that would have obviously made it a lot more difficult”.

When Hamilton left the pits for the last time on lap 52 he was over two seconds per lap quicker than Bottas. The 14-second gap between them was erased within seven laps, and with Bottas being told to “not race him hard” it seemed another Mercedes one-two was a foregone conclusion.

But Hamilton’s delays, his early switch to the final set of super-soft tyres, his front wing damage and the impressive traction and straight-line speed of the Williams allowed Bottas to stay ahead. He never even had to move off his racing line to defend – a temptation he did well to avoid, as it would have put Hamilton in a much stronger position.

There’s no denying Bottas needed a lot of cards to fall in his favour to become the first driver to beat a Mercedes ‘on merit’ this year, but he played the hand he was dealt to perfection and justly reaped the rewards. With three podium finishes in the last three races, he is increasingly staking a claim to being ‘best of the rest’ behind the Mercedes pair.

Alonso salvages fifth

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2014Vettel took fourth after seeing off the two Ferraris at the Spitzkehre. It was a move which must have given Raikkonen deja vu, as he was once again squeezed by two drivers and incurred damage. That impaired his ability to look after his tyres and he slipped backwards out of the points.

Alonso gave chase to Vettel and shot past the Red Bull with ease in the longest DRS zone following their second pit stops. But Vettel took the place back after an early final pit stop – and thanks to some bold driving by his team mate.

Ricciardo had continued his march to the front and gave Alonso a hard time in the final stint, despite having tyres which were harder and nine laps older than the Ferrari driver’s. He stayed ahead thanks to some first-rate defensive driving, until Alonso finally squeezed through with six laps remaining.

The fight was gone from Alonso’s tyres though, and far from going after Vettel he had to fend off Ricciardo again on the final lap, the pair separated by less than a tenth of a second at the line.

Hulkenberg was one of few other drivers to make a two-stop strategy work. Button dropped behind him to eighth place after a late third stop, followed by his recovering team mate and Perez in the other Force India.

Rosberg bolsters title lead

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2014While Rosberg romped to his fourth win of the year There was no shortage of action going on behind him. That went some way towards making up for the loss of another toe-to-toe battle between the title rivals.

For the third time in four races the main reason for that was Mercedes unreliability – a growing problem for the team which motorsport director Toto Wolff acknowledged even before their latest problem.

Under the circumstances Hamilton couldn’t have done much more to salvage the maximum available from his impaired weekend. But as the championship fight looks ever more likely to be decided by a narrow margin, those lost points could weigh heavily in the final reckoning.

Images © Williams/LAT, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Pirelli/Hone

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26 comments on Rosberg adds to lead as Hamilton recovers for podium

  1. Breno (@austus) said on 21st July 2014, 0:35

    That last lap between Alonso and Ricciardo… I just read the Autosport article, it appears Alonso did that lap in 8th gear in order to “massively save fuel”.

    • Resort2Spa (@resort2spa) said on 21st July 2014, 2:38

      Be great if we can find the footage of that last lap finish. Apparently there 0.087 in it!

      Commited F1 FANATICS … Consider this a shout out for video footage.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 21st July 2014, 6:12

        Yes, I can’t blame the TV director because they all do it but PLEASE we want to see the battles behind the winner, all the way to the chequered flag, not the same old dreary pics of the pit-crew jumping up and down wetting themselves with excitement, and not the winners fist-pump or finger-waving, they can be seen when the car comes in and on the podium, SHOW US THE RACING.

        • Bobby (@f1bobby) said on 21st July 2014, 9:49

          Couldn’t agree more. It is so annoying when they cut to people in the garage or even on the pit wall. If there’s anything going on on track I want to see that.

        • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 21st July 2014, 12:55

          @hohum I agree, it’s pretty frustrating. After all, it wouldn’t exactly be a massive technological leap to give us a split screen of the action and the winner crossing the line would it?

        • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 21st July 2014, 13:11

          I can’t blame the TV director because they all do it but PLEASE we want to see the battles behind the winner, all the way to the chequered flag

          I thought that several times this race. There was so much action that we were bound to miss something, especially on the last lap.

          We could do with split screen or PIP for the most action packed events. It would be great to see 2 (or more) battles at once, and it would be a cool feature in other races too, showing the onboard shots side-by-side or onboard along with a normal view.

    • Prof Kirk (@prof-kirk) said on 22nd July 2014, 0:01

      Bring on the Canal+ footage #amirite?

    • Resort2Spa (@resort2spa) said on 22nd July 2014, 2:59

      Ricciardo almost got him on the line

      Here is the footage on youtube

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysC0ry9wF3s

  2. Carlitox (@carlitox) said on 21st July 2014, 0:48

    We saw some guys struggling with fuel due to them having pushed like hell at some stages of the race. What amazes me is the quality, the close, pure racing we saw from those guys. Hamilton vs everyone was awesome, then he had to back off. Alonso vs Ricciardo was beautiful, a repeat of Silverstone with no whining (respect for Daniel increases…), and Raikkonen pushing through the field was amazing too.

    I sometimes think, we complain so much, but F1 has so little things to fix, at least from the racing side. Take that silly fuel limit out and we’ll have races like these without needing DRS. I can only imagine what these guys could do with these cars if they allow them to go full throttle.

    • Bazza Spock (@bazza-spock) said on 21st July 2014, 4:25

      Well the thing is we didn’t hear any complaining broadcast – the drivers might have but it wasn’t broadcast. But then that’s the difference between this track and the last couple — there’s no real advantage running wide at Hockenhiem.
      Re fuel, even if it was unlimited, teams would still shortfill the cars.

      IMO this was the best race so far this year.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 21st July 2014, 13:21

        Yeah the teams would still put in the absolute minimum fuel needed, but I doubt they would put in so little that they would handcuff themselves from racing. There’s short filling to minimize weight, sure, but nobody would shortfill to the point of having to let others go for fear of racing themselves into running out of fuel. DC highlighted it when we were allowed to hear the radio comm to Bottas to not race LH too hard…the opposite of what we are supposed to be hearing from what is touted as the pinnacle of racing. Yes fuel and tire conservation has always been part of the game…it remains too much a part though, at least at some tracks.

  3. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 21st July 2014, 0:58

    I’m particularly happy about this race for four reasons: Bottas, Hulkenberg, Kvyat and Ricciardo. F1 has a lot of issues right now, from Abu Double to the continuing cost and financial issues affecting many teams.

    However, watching the four names mentioned above one thing that is not in issue is the abundance of talent to be found throughout the field. You could add Magnussen or Bianchi to the list but we didn’t see much of them today.

    Each of the drivers I’ve mentioned I felt showed something special today, or reaffirms my belief that those drivers have the potential to be future greats. Whether it was seeing Kvyat or Ricciardo battle with some of the current top dogs, or Bottas’ cool defence against Hamilton,mor even just seeing Hulkenberg doing another Alonso-esque job of maximising the points with the tools he had, it excited me to think of where each of these guys might be in five years. Hopefully they won’t be pushed out of the sport for reasons outside of their control.

    • In_Silico (@insilico) said on 21st July 2014, 1:20

      Can’t disagree with how there is a wealth of talent (especially young drivers) with huge amounts of potential. But it really should be that way. This is the highest tier of motorsport and there would be something very wrong if we didn’t have bucketloads of talent in F1 and also in junior categories.

      • Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 21st July 2014, 2:05

        You’re absolutely right, this is F1, and should be filled with talent. I don’t know how to articulate it that well, it’s just that I get the feeling that there is more really top, top talent now than there has been for a while. I’ve been watching the sport since the 90’s, and I can’t think of a time when the field has had so many brilliant (or potentially great) racers in it.

        Granted many may have a different view, but in terms of drivers I think we’re living in a golden age: we have Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton on the grid at the same time, and they’re all time greats or will be. Then you have the established winners like Button, Raikkonen and Rosberg. Then the young guns above and you could name several more that could break through. It’s cause to be optimistic about our sport!

        • Overlord said on 21st July 2014, 4:58

          You guys are right on the money there. Which begs the question: How in the name of all that’s holy does a flog like Sutil still have an F1 drive?

          With the biblically talented stalwarts like Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Vettel in the grid, through to the fledgling stars like Bottas, Hulkenberg, Kvyat and Ricciardo – how is there ANY room for ne’er do wells like Sutil……or even Massa these days?!

          Plus, there’s also so much more talent waiting in the wings…

    • Dean Reynolds said on 21st July 2014, 8:20

      Just do not get this hulkenberg love in. Good solid driver… thats all. Plus… we hear so much criticism of certain drivers for their attitude when talking to their engineers….. if Lewis, for instance, had spoke to his engineer like hulkenberg did yesrerday we would have a full article with 100+ scathing comments. Hulkenberg: good driver. Now can we stop waxing lyrical about a guy that hasnt even achieved a podium.

      • Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 21st July 2014, 11:17

        You’re perfectly entitled to your opinion on Hulkenberg, but I think he’s deserved the love he’s getting. On the point of his radio message, that has nothing to do with his skill. Don’t know why you’re bringing it up while talking about his ability.

        Hulkenberg’s proven that he’s quick, consistent and a good wheel to wheel racer and defensive driver. Look at his pole in 2010.

        Or in 2012, his great results in Valencia, Spa and Brazil. I know he clashed with Hamilton in Brazil but he was still deeply impressive. He kept Hamilton, in a far superior McLaren, at bay for a long time in the wet.

        Or last year, in a slow Sauber he had a great race in China and fought with the frontrunners for a while. Then he had a great second half of the season, with two brilliant displays of defensive driving in Korea and the USA against Hamilton and Alonso.

        Now so far this season he’s scored points in every single race and had some great battles with top drivers – most notably Alonso in Malaysia. Alonso has even said that he thinks Hulkenberg is one of the best drivers on the grid.

        But you’re right, he hasn’t scored a podium so I guess he can’t be that good.

  4. schooner (@schooner) said on 21st July 2014, 1:50

    I didn’t understand at the time that Hamilton’s early switch to that 2nd set of super-softs was his team’s reaction to what they suspected would be a safety car deployment. I was scratching my head on that one, but I get it now. That said, he wouldn’t have needed that 3rd stop anyway if he hadn’t damaged his front wing in that tussle with Button. Obviously, everything would have played out differently if Lewis hadn’t had the brake failure in qualifying, and hopefully we’ll get to see the two Mercedes drivers have a proper battle on track next week in Hungary without mechanical reliability coming into the mix.

  5. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 21st July 2014, 1:58

    “Never before in the history of the world championship had a German driver won the German Grand Prix in a German car”

    But he’s not German ! Jokes aside, what a couple of weeks for Rosberg. His mood couldn’t be any better, could it? recently married, watched his nation win the World Cup, new Mercedes deal, pole and utter dominance at his home Grand Prix…

    It was a fantastic race. This year’s wheel-to-wheel racing has been supreme. Today, the battles with Ricciardo-Alonso, Alonso-Vettel, Ricciardo-Hamilton-Kimi and so many others. It was just FAAAAAAAAAAANTASTIC !

    It’s the kind of racing that puts a smile on your face, regardless of who you’re cheering for.

  6. Becken Lima said on 21st July 2014, 3:01

    Very good race report!

    “…Ricciardo had continued his march to the front and gave Alonso a hard time in the final stint…”

    Yep, and the kid didn’t complained. He just raced.

    I turned into a huge Ricciardo fan. He is amazing – not only because he is making Vettels looks ordinary, but despite his talent, this kid seems to really enjoy to be in F1. And despite this joy, he looks so merciless as Hamilton or Alonso!

    “…but the race stayed green. That surprised many people, not least Hamilton’s own team mate…”

    Maybe I´m exagerating, but I really don´t know why nobody (fans, press, drivers etc) is bothering about the way FIA handled Sutil´s car parked for almost three laps in the middle of the main straight.

    There was people crossing the track coming from a blind spot to push the car and putting themselves in danger. There was some people on Twitter bring back memories of Kayalamy/77 when a marshal died in a similar situation.

    Ok, I know we have a signage/light system much more sofisticated than those ones from 77, but take a gamble and risk people lives is too much for me.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 21st July 2014, 7:15

      Maybe I´m exagerating, but I really don´t know why nobody (fans, press, drivers etc) is bothering about the way FIA handled Sutil´s car parked for almost three laps in the middle of the main straight.

      I was wondering about that as well, surely the safe thing would have been to throw a SC.

    • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 21st July 2014, 13:16

      Agreed, I have no idea why there wasn’t a SC at that point. (I could go conspiracy-theorist on you, but I don’t really believe it).

      In the vast majority of races, a car stuck at a point like that on the track would be an immediate SC. It’s obviously better for the racing to deal with it without, but it was dangerous. You gotta respect the balls on those marshals!

  7. NeoGalaxy (@neogalaxy) said on 21st July 2014, 14:17

    I watched the end of the race for like 5 times already and well there’s just two ideas: 1st the SC should have been deployed and 2nd… SC shouldn’t had been deployed. If the SC was racing well, Rosberg and Bottas would have both changed tires and be still ahead of Hamilton, who wouldn’t be able to pass them since he was older tires anyway. On the 2nd idea, Hamilton pitted too fast when he should have wait to see what happens and… if he would have done that, he would 2nd for sure. Also one can see that Ferrari and Red Bull had no strategy this race since both teams ruined the last 20 laps for all their drivers. I wanna point that Raikonnen is out of this since I have no idea what he’s doing in that car or even if he’s doing something at all.

    But I think Hamilton should be happy that the SC was not there, since he’s not a hero of his fans. He had a nice recuperation run in which he hit Button, Raikonnen but since the SC car was not out he had a nice fight with Bottas that completly outshined him. Hamilton had a very fast car and better tires but he never thought at any second where to overtake him and during 6 laps… he was not able to use that advantage. Imagine this fight again with Bottas but with newer tires for Bottas… I think Hamilton should thank that fate that the SC was not deployed.

    P.S. As an interesting idea, when the car would have been deployed, Rosberg and Bottas would have changed already since they were on the other side of the circuit, and would have been still on 1st and 2nd position… since the SC car doesn’t delete their positions… You can check the pilots positions on that lap it’s not that hard, hell there’s plent of information about that lol. Just use it and you’ll see who had the best advantage anyway.

    P.S. 1 Now to be honest, Sutil’s car was not that much of a problem but again, the SC would have been on the tack for just 2 laps since the could have been moved very very fast during a SC out time. Now the question is that fair to deploy the SC for just two laps? It would advantage Hamilton yes, but what about the other xx pilots? Alonso could have passed Vettel and Bottas easier, would that had been fair? Probably Vettel’s fans will say no :P

  8. Strontium said on 21st July 2014, 16:10

    What a race, but it’s a real shame so much of the driving was rookie driving standard.

    Both Hamilton and Vettel deserved penalties or crashing into Kimi (and an impressive save by Kimi to avoid taking Alonso out), and then Hamilton went and crashed into Button pathetically.

    The start accident was nothing more than a racing incident (one that has been waiting to happen for years with a corner like that), but I cannot help but feel that it wouldn’t have happened if that were, say, Alonso and Button.

    As for Sutil, well, don’t waste any more time Sauber. His time should be over in F1.

  9. th13teen said on 21st July 2014, 17:14

    I am surprised you think Hamilton deserved a penalty for a slight touch…if thats the case the stewards have a lot more penalties to be giving out…the touch was actually nothing. Hamilton was bound to touch at least someone coming through the pack like he did.

    I just really now want Hamilton to put an actual challenge on Rosberg rather than ruining it all before Sunday even arrives!

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