Hockenheimring: the deafening noise from the crowd..building to a crescendo....Rosberg starts in pole position. Hamilton in 2nd....
We've now passed the halfway point of the season; Lewis Hamilton's frustrating start is a distance memory - the last 7 races turning things around - leaving his previously unstoppable Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to do the title chasing.
|Driver||Team||Race Time||Points||Average Speed (mph)|
|Lewis Hamilton (GB)||Mercedes||1:30:44||25||202.646|
|Daniel Ricciardo (AUS)||Red Bull||+6.996 Sec||18||202.386|
|Max Verstappen (NL)||Red Bull||+13.413 Sec||15||202.148|
|Nico Rosberg (GER)||Mercedes||+32.570 Sec||12||201.441|
Today Hamilton dominated yet again, taking his 4th win in a row at the German Grand Prix, his 6th of the year and a 19 point lead in the Formula One championship. "It feels like only a couple of weeks ago I was finding it hard to think how I could find my way through the trees" (Hamilton)
It was the Spanish Grand Prix that seemed to turn the tide. Before this, Rosberg had confidently won the first 4 races and showed no sign of relinquishing control. But when Rosberg and Hamilton collided on the first lap in Spain, putting them both out of the race - the confident hold he had held over proceedings was seemingly broken. Blame for this collision hasn't rested on either - however Rosberg has conceded only that he was at fault for not putting his engine in the correct mode at the start of the race, slowing him down and giving Hamilton the opportunity to attempt to pass him.
But for all the problems he encountered at the start of the season, Hamilton has been tenacious in his desire to 'go for any gap' and ultimately to maintain his title as champion. "....on a good day I think he's (Hamilton) unbeatable. But this is a mechanical sport and he's human and this is why he is not unbeatable in every race." (Toto Wolff)
But there are still 9 races to go and as we've seen - an awful lot can happen.
Hamilton's difficult start cannot be entirely forgotten however, as he was handed a grid penalty for using more engine parts than permitted. Mercedes had been forced to introduce new power units, in order to get him to the end of the season - following several early season failures. He must now use this penalty in one of the next 2 races following the summer break.
The lead was taken early on at Hockenheim by Hamilton. After only the first corner Rosberg was also behind Ricciardo and Verstappen - where he stayed until the second pit stops - just before the 30 lap mark.
But to compound his current problems, Rosberg was penalised for forcing Verstappen off the track soon after the second pits. Verstappen complained over the radio that he had been given no alternative other than to come off the track, in order to prevent a collision - prompting the stewards to investigate and give the German a 5 second penalty and 2 points on his licence. Rosberg had dived late for the inside into Turn 6, Verstappen moved to the right (a defensive manouvere that Rosberg himself favours) and Rosberg carried straight on - deep into the corner and overtook the Dutchman.
He had also managed to pass Ricciardo (when on his 2nd pit during Lap 33) but had to serve the 5 second penalty at his final pit stop during Lap 44. This penalty turned out to be nearer 8 seconds after the Mercedes stop watch 'broke' and he emerged 5.4 seconds behind Verstappen. According to the Mercedes Technical Boss, Paddy Lowe "There wasn't the pace in the car to make up that gap" and Rosberg had to be satisfied with 4th place.
So, the commanding lead that Rosberg had built up this season has gone. Though he still believes that he is strongest after 'difficult moments' and he'll fight to get back in contention. He still has 9 races to turn this around - perhaps Hamilton's grid penalty will be a further turning point?
It was another good day for Red Bull; with their first double podium since the Hungarian Grand Prix last year. Verstappen seemingly happy for his teammate to take 2nd, while he took 3rd. Ricciardo referring to it as "a good bit of teamwork for us."
Ferrari struggled in their first race following the departure of technical director James Allison. Although they did manage to take 5th (Vettel) and 6th (Raikkonen) place; according to Raikkonen, Ferrari's current form is 'painful' and Vettel had to apologise after questioning the team's race strategy over the radio - frustrating times.
5th: Sebastian Vettel
6th: Kimi Raikkonen
7th: Nico Hulkenberg
8th: Jenson Button
On now to a relaxing summer break..... until the Belgian Grand Prix on 28th August at Spa Francorchamps. Put it in your diaries.