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Hamilton aces German Grand Prix after Rosberg botches start

FORMULA ONE: Lewis Hamilton cruised to an easy German Grand Prix win after snatching the lead from pole-sitter Nico Rosberg at the start of the race.


Michael Lamonato

Monday 1 August 2016, 09:37AM


Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates victory in the German Grand Prix. Photo: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates victory in the German Grand Prix. Photo: Mercedes AMG Petronas

Hamilton cut a dejected figure on Saturday (July 30) after failing to deny Rosberg pole when the German encountered problems in qualifying, but a perfect start yesterday (July 31) reversed the damage by the first turn.

The Briton sailed into the distance, safe from challenge, and led every lap thereafter.

“What a race!” he said on the podium. “Yesterday second place, but we got a great start.

“My engineers did a fantastic job, the balance was amazing.

“Today I didn’t make any mistakes, so in my heart I’m happy with what I did.

“I’m just so happy I could be up here for Mercedes-Benz,” he added for his team’s home grand prix. “This is a very, very proud position for me to be in, so a big thank you to the team.”

Aiding Hamilton’s getaway was Rosberg’s own poor start, which opened the door to both Red Bull Racing drivers at the first turn, demoting him to fourth.

Mercedes attempted to recover Rosberg’s lost places with an alternative supersoft-supersoft-soft-soft strategy, but the Red Bull Racing cars proved too competitive for it to make a difference.

His race pivoted on passing Max Verstappen on lap 28, which Rosberg managed in a way the stewards judged to be illegal.

With a strikingly similar move to the one he attempted on Hamilton at the end of the Austrian Grand Prix, Rosberg launched down the inside of the Dutchman in an attempt to run him out of road.

The stewards handed Rosberg a five-second penalty shortly afterwards.

“It was racing,” protested Rosberg. “I was really ecstatic at the time, because I came from miles behind and was very happy to get the position, because it would have meant second place, at least.

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“I was surprised to get a penalty for it.”

Compounding the penalty was a stopwatch failure in the Mercedes garage that had his pit crew leave the car stationery for more than eight seconds – and with the podium then unreachable, Rosberg was forced to finish fourth.

Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen filled the void between the two Mercedes drivers, and Verstappen got a jump on his higher-starting teammate Ricciardo at the first turn.

“We had a good start, and from there on I think the pace was pretty good,” Verstappen said.

The pair held station for the first half of the race, but Verstappen’s uneasiness in his opening two stints combined with Ricciardo extracting the maximum from the faster supersofts was enough reason for the team to direct them to switch places on lap 39.

“To get a double podium out of it was the main target – and to score more points than Ferrari,” Verstappen said.

Ricciardo made his final stop seven laps later, changing his used set of supersofts for four brand-new ones.

Hamilton followed suit on the next lap, and the gap stood at 12 seconds with 21 laps remaining, but fewer than five laps later the deficit was less than eight seconds.

The race for the lead looked alive, but as Ricciardo’s tyres wore and Hamilton upped his pace it became clear that the finishing order was settled.

“It was a race of strategy at first,” said Ricciardo. “It was really close at the first corner and [Verstappen] had a good run on the outside.

”On the supersoft I was much more comfortable and we had good pace for the last half of the race. We couldn’t win, but second and third isn’t too bad.

“Thanks to Red Bull Racing – I think the first double podium for us in over a year. It’s awesome to close out the first part of the season.”

 

 

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