Lewis Hamilton has won the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim to move 19 points clear of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship. Rosberg finished fourth while the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were on the podium in second and third, respectively.
Hamilton started second but flew past Rosberg off the start and led going into Turn One, never surrendering the lead thereafter.
It was a day to forget for Rosberg at his home race. Starting on pole, the German found himself down in fourth after seeing both Red Bulls fly straight past him in the opening few turns.
The day got even worse for Rosberg, as he was handed a five-second penalty for forcing Verstappen off the track. Mercedes comically failed with their stopwatch and it ended up being an 8.2-second penalty.
It was the 49th race win of Hamilton’s career, putting him just two behind Alain Prost’s 51 at second on the all-time list, but still well short of the record of 91, held by Michael Schumacher.
It was the Brit’s sixth win in the last seven races, including all four in the month of July. It is a phenomenal turnaround for the three-time drivers’ champion, turning a 43-point deficit after Spain into a 19-point lead heading into the summer break.
“What a race, what a fantastic start. It was just about keeping it cool. This is a very proud position to be in and thank you to the team, who did a fantastic job,” Hamilton told reporters.
“I didn’t make any mistakes so in my heart I’m happy with what I did. Yesterday was not perfect but you learn from those things.”
As for Rosberg, he was convinced the five-second penalty cost him second place: “I was very surprised to get the penalty. That cost me dearly.”
“It’s a tough one, really difficult. The start went completely wrong, none of it was good. There was a lot of wheelspin, it caught me by surprise”, Rosberg told Sky Sports.
No driver has won the first four races of the season and failed to go on and win the title, but Rosberg is in danger of doing just that. Thankfully, with 21 races, this is the longest season in F1 history and so Rosberg still has another nine races to close the gap. He’ll have good memories of the end of the last season, too, when he finished with the bang, albeit with the title already decided.
“Being 19 point behind is not tough, tough is losing the race in the way I did and that will take some time to digest,” Rosberg continued.
Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finished fifth and sixth as Ferrari slipped to third in the constructors’ championship. Nico Hulkenberg of Force India was seventh.
Jenson Button had his second-best result this season in eighth, capitalising on the wearing tyres of Valterri Bottas, who was ninth. Bottas was the only one of the top drivers to try the two-stop strategy and it was unsuccessful. Sergio Perez claimed the final points position in 10th.