Nico Rosberg needed this one. After losing the F1 World Championship points lead to Mercedes-AMG teammate Lewis Hamilton last weekend, the German came into his home Grand Prix limping. Early signs were positive, as the man got his mojo back and snatched pole position on Saturday. But on Sunday, race day, it all fell to pieces.
Rosberg botched the start. Bad. He spun, bogged, and was passed by his teammate, then both Red Bull cars, all before the first corner. While Hamilton pulled away from the pack, Rosberg was left frantically trying to climb back into contention. He got slapped with a five-second penalty for pushing Max Verstappen off-track at the Turn 6 hairpin; then, while serving said penalty, inexplicably sat an extra three seconds in the Mercedes pit box. The German Grand Prix at Hockenheim was Rosberg’s race to lose. And that he did.
So Hamilton took his fourth victory on the trot, extending his lead in the driver’s standings to 19 points. The Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen took the other two podium spots, in that order. Rosberg nabbed a hollow fourth.
Sebastian Vettel put in a solid drive for fifth, followed by his Ferrari teammate Kimi Räikkönen. Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India came in seventh, then Jenson Button in eighth, scoring some much-needed points for the languishing McLaren-Honda team. Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Sergio Perez of Force India rounded out the top-ten.
The Haas F1 Team, America’s team, looked more competitive this weekend. Esteban Gutiérrez stayed within striking distance for most of the race, but wound up in 11th. Romain Grosjean finished 13th.
This is Hamilton’s sixth win in the past seven races, putting him just two short of matching Alain Prost for second in all-time victories. The F1 season now takes its “summer break,” the long mid-season lull before the Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 28. It couldn’t come at a better time for Rosberg, who desperately needs to regroup. For Hamilton, it’s just a matter of keeping momentum. Mercedes’ three-time World Champion is now solidly the favorite to capture a fourth.