Lewis Hamilton led all the way in the German Grand Prix but there were plenty of other strong performances in the field last weekend.
Here’s F1 Fanatic’s verdict on all 22 drivers.
Lewis Hamilton – Was clearly unhappy with being beaten to pole position by Rosberg after locking up at the Spitzkehre. But Hamilton showed again he has got on top of the problems he experienced with his starts at the beginning of the year and took the lead as soon as the lights went out. As early as lap two he had the engine turned down as he cruised to victory.
Nico Rosberg – Fastest in all three practice sessions, Rosberg’s pole chances took a blow when an electronic problem forced his to abandon his first run in Q3. However, despite having a couple of extra laps of fuel on board, he beat Hamilton to pole. However a tardy start threw it away and left him scrapping with the Red Bulls. He was unlucky to lose time at his first pit stop, but a repeat of his Austria defensive move while trying to pass Verstappen led to another penalty. The damage was amplified when Mercedes held him in his pit box too long, and Red Bull’s pace in the final stint was quick enough to block him from the podium.
Sebastian Vettel – Admitted he hadn’t got a balance he was happy with in the Ferrari after being out-qualified by Raikkonen. However a quick start meant he led the Ferrari charge, though he wasn’t able to capitalise on Rosberg’s slow getaway. Vettel’s pace slowed at the end of his first stint on softs which explains why he was reluctant to pit early to undercut Verstappen ahead of his final pit stop, extending his run to the chequered flag on softs. He also queries his team’s strategy in Baku following their slip-up in Canada, suggesting some trust has been lost.
Kimi Raikkonen – Seemed more comfortable in the Ferrari in practice and lined up fifth on the grid. However he had wheelspin at the start and fell behind Vettel, and a slow pit stop killed his chances of recovering fifth. His sixth place was never under threat, making this an unexciting race for him.
Felipe Massa – Needed a late effort in Q2 to reach the final ten after being held up by Sainz. In the race he was tapped by Palmer early on and suffered damage which compromised and eventually ended his race.
Valtteri Bottas – Promoted to seventh on the grid by Hulkenberg’s penalty, but was unable to keep the place in the race after the team gambled on sticking to a two-stop strategy. It didn’t pay off: Bottas was struggling way before the end of his final 33-lap stint which allowed Hulkenberg and Button to capitalise. Given the rate with which his pace was dropping off over 15 laps before the end it is mystifying that Williams didn’t pit him again.
Daniel Ricciardo – Beating either of the Mercedes didn’t seem possible but Ricciardo got within four tenths of a second of them in qualifying. Gained a place from Rosberg at the start but lost one to his team mate. Nonetheless Ricciardo’s pace on the super-softs was better, and it could have been an interesting fight between the pair had Red Bull not needed to ensure both stayed ahead of Rosberg. Ricciardo’s path to second place was therefore made easier than it might have been, but both Red Bull drivers did well to capitalise on Rosberg’s problems.
Max Verstappen – Attacked the Hockenheimring with gusto when track limits were not enforced in first practice, running wide at turn one on 14 occasions. That knowledge of the grip levels at the corner served him well at the start, where he passed a surprised Ricciardo with millimetres to spare. However his race pace wasn’t quite as good and he came under attack from Rosberg, who incurred a penalty while passing the Red Bull. Verstappen therefore reclaimed the place but yielded second to his team mate: “taking one for the team”, as he put it.
Nico Hulkenberg – A grid drop – however small – seemed harsh for what amounted to an administrative error by his team which did not confer a performance advantage. He started eighth instead of seventh and held that position early on before using the undercut to get ahead of Bottas. While the Williams ran to the end Hulkenberg easily had the pace to make another pit stop and get ahead of him.
Sergio Perez – Was eight-thousandths of a second away from starting two places higher on the grid. But his start was very poor, wheelspin losing him seven places and leaving him with a lot of work to do to get back into the points. He picked off Sainz and Grosjean with little difficulty on his way back through the field, and capitalised on Alonso’s slowing McLaren to claim the final point. His team mate was almost half a minute up the road, however.
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Kevin Magnussen – Palmer edged him by eight-hundredths of a second in Q1 which meant Magnussen progressed no further. In the race the team committed to a two-stop strategy and realised too late it had been the wrong way to go. He finished where he started: 16th.
Jolyon Palmer – Ocon drove his car in first practice but Palmer was soon up to speed and beat Magnussen into Q2. But he spoiled his race on the first lap by locking up his tyres at turn two and then hitting Massa which forced an early pit stop and, later, a front wing change. A weekend which had started promisingly ended up with 19th place.
Daniil Kvyat – Hit a low in qualifying with an error-strewn lap which was only good enough to beat the Saubers and one Manor. His race pace was better, however, and he had his team mate in sight at the chequered flag despite losing time when he made his first pit stop.
Carlos Sainz Jnr – Another recipient of a tough qualifying penalty after holding Massa up briefly in Q2. He started well and got up to 12th but he too had slow service in the pits which ended his chance of beating the Haas pair.
Marcus Ericsson – The main positive of the weekend was being able to use the team’s new rear wing in the race. However the two Saubers qualified on the back row and Ericsson brought up the rear. He battled with Haryanto after passing him at the start but never got on terms with the other Manor, finishing behind it.
Felipe Nasr – Joined his team mate on the back row and took advantage of other cars holding each other up at turn one to grab 16th place. However Sauber brought him in for an early first pit stop which proved very slow, and after another slow stop he retired with a loss of power.
Fernando Alonso – Was held up by Vettel in qualifying but later admitted it hadn’t cost him a place in Q3 at a track where McLaren believed they should have been more competitive. However he moved up two places at the start and then overtook Massa’s hobbled Williams to run behind his team mate. There he remained until the final laps when, struggling with worn tyres and a shortage of fuel, he fell prey to Perez and Gutierrez and lost his grip on the top ten.
Jenson Button – Had to visit hospital due on Friday to have some debris removed from his eye, but despite that setback he qualified ahead of his team mate. A rapid start moved him up to ninth place and impressively he had gained another position by the end of the race. Button eked out better tyre life on the super-softs than Alonso managed in the closing laps and grabbed an excellent eighth when Bottas hit trouble.
Pascal Wehrlein – As was the case at the Red Bull Ring, Wehrlein put his track knowledge from the DTM to good use and briefly looked like snatching a place in Q2. However he was shuffled back two places at the start which left him fighting Ericsson. He finished ahead of the Sauber as well as Palmer, but the other Renault was much further ahead.
Rio Haryanto – On a weekend when Haryanto was fortunate to be in the car given his financial situation, hitting his team mate wasn’t a prudent move, though the damage was slight. It hasn’t been particularly close between Manor and Sauber in qualifying and Haryanto easily beat both of the blue cars. But in the race he slipped behind both and finished almost 50 seconds behind Wehrlein.
Romain Grosjean – A water leak in second practice hindered his race preparation and a gearbox change penalty demoted him to 20th place. However using a two-stop strategy he climbed to seventh at one point and at the chequered flag he was only one place (and eight seconds) behind his team mate – a solid recovery.
Esteban Gutierrez – Charles Leclerc drove his car again in the first practice session but Gutierrez showed good form by qualifying ahead of Grosjean in 11th. That was where he finished as well, once more missing out on points after a decent drive including a long opening stint on softs.
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2016 German Grand Prix
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