This year’s German Grand Prix, hosted at the Hockenheimring, delivered a rather predictable result.
Following his country’s triumph at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the completion of a fresh Mercedes contract extension, and a further-blossomed romance with newly-wed wife Vivian, Nico Rosberg was able to complete his crescendo of elation with a home victory in front of thousands of fans. Rosberg rode his wave of momentum with seamless ease as it became increasingly more obvious that the young German was in a class of one this weekend. Starting from pole, Rosberg quickly neutralised the feeble challenge that Williams posed as Bottas quickly became a far smaller speck in the Mercedes’ mirrors, and the incident-prone Massa was eliminated.
Rosberg’s success was, however, nothing more than an expectation. With Hamilton’s brake failure in qualifying, Rosberg’s sole serious adversary was halted before the race even started. That, added to the overwhelming performance advantage of the Mercedes, and Rosberg’s current infinitely motivated demeanour, effectively gifted the championship leader the lead.
Mercedes answered any doubts over their post-FRIC-ban performance with an utter demolition of all challengers. The Silver Arrows showed their true pace as the Mercedes dream team opted not to run conservatively as had been the case in other recent races.
Upon completion of the 67th and final lap, Rosberg had extended his advantage over 2nd placed Valtteri Bottas to a gargantuan 21 second gulf, with the recovering Lewis Hamilton little over a second adrift of the Finn’s Williams.
As Mercedes were unafraid to show their true pace, Hamilton was able to impress even his harshest of critics with an eye-opening recovery drive from twentieth on the grid, to an eventual third position on the podium. Hamilton did not carve through the field – more smash through it. So great was Hamilton’s determination to catch Rosberg and beat the odds, that he was seen on several occasions to have made contact with some of the most experienced and respected drivers on the grid. Among the incidents of note was a skirmish with McLaren’s Jenson Button, in which Hamilton was left with a badly damaged front wing after lunging down the inside of his previous teammate and colliding with his side pod. Despite this, Hamilton simply overcame the self-manufactured inconveniences with a swift change of front wing angle during his next routine pit stop. Whilst Hamilton’s actions could be considered questionable, it will undoubtedly reinforce his title as one of the most revered, aggressive overtakers on the grid.
The occupant names slightly lower down F1’s current pecking order certainly did no discredit to their respective reputations as Formula 1 fans saw more overtaking and wheel-to-wheel racing this weekend than had been seen for many races before. Fernando Alonso was yet again able to impress by carrying his dreadfully uncompetitive Ferrari across the line in a high-points position as he managed the split the Red Bull duo; Vettel finishing in fourth, with Alonso in fifth and Ricciardo sixth. Onlookers were left speechless after a number of high risk manoeuvres of the highest quality saw the three respective drivers trade positions time and time again. Whilst the superior pace of Vettel’s Red Bull ultimately gave him a more lucrative finishing position, it was Alonso who occupied the hearts of many with his unrivalled wheel-to-wheel skill, regardless of his car’s competitiveness or indeed lack of.
Ultimately though, it was Valtteri Bottas who impressed the most. After a stellar qualifying performance saw him take a front row start, Bottas was able to provide a brief challenge to Nico Rosberg. The Finn then managed to hold his own against the likes of Vettel and Alonso to eventually finish in a solid second place to take his third podium in succession and revive Williams’ spirits by providing them with a landmark 300th podium. After yet another great performance, the Finn is starting to earn the respect of the paddock, who are beginning to recognise his enormous potential.
Drivers of the weekend:
1) Valtteri Bottas
2) Lewis Hamilton
3) Nico Rosberg