Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in the Formula One drivers’ championship to 19 points after winning the German Grand Prix with ease yesterday, as Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg toiled to fourth.
Home hero Rosberg surrendered his lead from pole with a dreadful start to the Briton, who stormed away to claim his sixth win in seven races and strengthen his grip in the title chase.
Second was Daniel Ricciardo, with Max Verstappen, his young Red Bull teammate, third.
Reigning world champion Hamilton took full advantage of the poor start by Rosberg, who also received a five second pit-stop penalty for an over-aggressive passing move, to deliver a flawless drive.
“I had a great start and my engineers gave me a perfectly balanced car,” Hamilton, who started second on the grid, told the Hockenheim crowd from the podium.
“I am so happy to be here and to win for Mercedes Benz — I have been with them since I was 13.
“Today it was about staying cool and I didn’t make any mistakes and in my heart I felt I did a great job. For me, yesterday wasn’t perfect, but you learn from those things.”
For Rosberg, who was seeking to repeat his 2014 triumph, it ended up as a day of bitter disappointment.
“A tough one, yes, very tough,” said the 31-year-old. “Really difficult. For me, the start went completely wrong — none of it was good. There was a lot of wheel-spin and it caught me by surprise.
“It was not like that in the practice starts before the race and it was very difficult for me after that.”
The home fans had another German to cheer as four-time champion Sebastian Vettel finished fifth ahead of his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen and compatriot Nico Hulkenberg, who was seventh on home turf for Force India.
Briton Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, finished eighth ahead of Finn Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India.
In front of a big race-day crowd who had come to see Rosberg grab back the title lead, it was Hamilton who was to seize the initiative from the off.
As the lights went out, the 31-year-old produced a perfect departure to dash past his teammate.
The German’s poor start also allowed both Red Bulls to surge past him with Verstappen squirming wide to the left to pass Ricciardo and take second as they rushed into the sweeping right-hander Turn One.
Down in fourth after the 320 metres rush down the straight, Rosberg battled to regain a place on lap one without reward as the field stretched and settled.
For the championship leader Hamilton, who has grasped the impetus in the title race in recent weeks, it was a dream start to the race. For his teammate Rosberg it was a nightmare.
Rosberg was soon tussling with Verstappen.
The Dutch teenager had to run wide and off the circuit as he attempted — and failed — to stave off a charging Rosberg.
Verstappen defended aggressively and retaliated, a characteristic that has earned him a reputation, but he lacked the pace needed.
“He pushed me off the track,” said Verstappen over the radio. The stewards investigated, agreed and handed Rosberg a five-second stop-go penalty to be taken at his next pit stop.
“I was very surprised to get that penalty,” a downbeat Rosberg said later.
To make matters worse for the luckless Rosberg, Mercedes team manager Ron Meadows had a problem with his stop watch and the team held him by more than eight seconds instead of just five.
“That cost me dearly. It didn’t make any difference that I was held longer than needed as I couldn’t challenge the Red Bulls after the penalty,” Rosberg said.
“When a day goes completely wrong, all those things come together.
“Being 19 points behind Lewis now is not tough — tough is losing the race in the way that I did.
“That will take me some time to digest.”
German GP results (top 10)
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:30:44.200
2. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +6.996
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +13.413
4. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) +15.845
5. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +32.570
6. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +37.023
7. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) +1:10.049
8. Jenson Button (McLaren) 1 lap
9. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1 lap
10. Sergio Perez (Force India) 1 lap
Drivers’ standings (top 5)
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 217.0pts
2. Nico Rosberg (GER) 198.0
3. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 133.0
4. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) 122.0
5. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 120.0
Constructors’ standings (top 5)
1. Mercedes 415 pts
2. Red Bull 256
3. Ferrari 242
4. Williams 96
5. Force India 81
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