We have reached the half way point of the season and despite Nico Rosberg claiming pole position at Hockenheim, he had a bad start that immediately demoted him to fourth place by turn 1. Lewis Hamilton extended his WDC lead over his Mercedes team mate to 19 points going into the mid season break.
The start saw Lewis Hamilton get a good start to lead into turn 1 followed by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; although Verstappen got immense drive off turn one to clean drive around team mate Ricciardo. This, of course pushed Rosberg back to fourth place, down three places from the start.
In the Ferrari inter-team battle, Sebastian Vettel passed Kimi Raikkonen on the first lap and that’s how it stayed, the drivers finished fifth and sixth. Clearly Red Bull have out-developed the Maranello based team in the first 12 races, this is proven by Red Bull taking second place in the constructors championship.
The Red Bull race was decided by strategy; in the first round of pit stops, Ricciardo switched to soft tires while Verstappen went with another set of super-soft tires. Which ultimately put Ricciardo on the faster super-soft tyre for the third stint allowing him to reel in and pass team mate Verstappen for second place as Verstappen had to run the mandated soft tire, Verstappen commented “I took one for the team“.
We know that Rosberg finished fourth and yet again it was of his own making. He was looking good to finish second; but he pulled the same trick as he did on Hamilton in Austria, making a dive down the inside allowing his car to drift wide forcing Verstappen off track. For which the German was handed a five second time penalty; that turned into an 8 second penalty as Mercedes held him too long in his pit box.
A mixed day for McLaren, Jenson Button scored an eighth place finish overtaking the Williams of Valteri Bottas on the penultimate lap. Bottas was on old tires near the end of the race which cost the Finn two places, both Hulkenberg and Button passed the struggling Williams driver. McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso dropped out of the top 10 in the last few laps due to having to run his engine in fuel saving mode.
The final points paying position went to Force India’s Sergio Perez who benefited from Alonso’s lack of fuel issues in the closing laps. Although I did wonder whether Perez would get a time penalty for forcing Alonso off track at the hairpin; but the Mexican got away with it to keep his single point in Germany.
Has Rosberg bottled it? his actions over the past few races have been questionable; twice pushing other drivers off the road, in Austria and Germany, blowing the start in the last two races while Lewis Hamilton has now won four races on the bounce. I honestly think that it’s now Lewis’ title to lose, the momentum is with him going into the mid-season break. However, I’d love to see Rosberg prove me wrong!
Another question is will Maurizio Arrivabene still be in charge at Ferrari when hostilities resume next month? Technical director James Allison has already left, for what reason, we do not know. In recent years, when things are going badly, team personnel change, will this be the case over the summer break?