The 2014 German Formula 1 Grand Prix is the hump-day race in the season and the penultimate chance for drivers and teams to rack up points before the summer break. Trying to stay on top after his first DNF of the year at the British Grand Prix, Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Nico Rosberg didn't have to wait until the race for misfortune to find Lewis Hamilton; his British teammate crashed out of the Q2 qualifying session due to a brake failure, then had to change his gearbox due of the crash, a calamity that left him starting 20th on the grid.
Rosberg took pole ahead of the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, with Kevin Magnussen surprising everyone with a fourth place in his McLaren. Daniel Ricciardo put the first Infiniti Red Bull Racing in fifth, ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari pilot Fernando Alonso, Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat, the Force India pair of Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Perez finishing the top ten.
In a replay of events in Britain but with a German accent, a first-lap incident brought out the Safety Car and the same Brazilian was taken out of the race.
Felipe Massa made it through eight corners at the British Grand Prix but in Germany, he didn't make it through a single one. Magnussen, saying he got squeezed out through the first right hander and had nowhere to go, plowed into the side of Massa and flipped him, taking the Williams out of the race right there. Massa was fine, but lost another great opportunity to score points for the team that's the best of the rest for now.
The Safety Car came out for a couple of laps, and then the race was on... for second place. There was lots of passing in the field because of differing pit strategies but Rosberg quickly laid time into the field and never left any doubt about who was going to win, barring a mechanical failure. He barely appeared on the television feed for the entire race, so certain was the outcome. He crossed the line in first place, 20 seconds ahead of Bottas.
The surviving Williams had a mostly quiet race until four laps from the end, when he was caught by Hamilton who'd climbed to third. After having caught up to Bottas at the rate of 1.5 to two seconds per lap on newer tires, everyone expected Hamilton to inevitably get by him, but it didn't happen; the Williams was too strong out of the first section of corners and too fast down the straights, and Bottas was too good at defending the position.
Hamilton cut through the field from the first lap with strategy and his usual passing prowess, staying out for a long first stint on soft-compound tires, but it got messy at points when he made contact with Kimi Räikkönen and Jenson Button in two separate passing incidents, damaging his car. The team changed his tire strategy when his tires wouldn't go the distance through the second phase, but the Mercedes is so strong that he could go from a two-stop to a three-stop race and make up 17 places while missing a front wing endplate.
Sebastian Vettel finished fourth and in front of his teammate for the first time since Malaysia. It appears the German is at last getting comfortable with the RB10. We still got our Ferrari vs. Red Bull battle, another echo of Britain, with Alonso batting Ricciardo for eight laps to the end of the race instead of Vettel. We didn't get any complaints from either driver, however, Alonso getting the fifth place spot ahead of the Red Bull but complimenting Ricciardo on his hard but fair racing afterward. Räikkönen got caught in the darker side of the battle when his teammate and Vettel squeezed him into the hairpin, and Ricciardo might have done better if he hadn't got caught in the first lap accident and dropped to 17th.
Save for Button's incident with Hamilton, the following four places completing the top ten pretty much kept to themselves: Hülkenberg, Button, Magnussen - recovering from his first-lap accident to recover to ninth, and Perez.
Rosberg's win is the first time a German driver has won the German Grand Prix in a German car with a German engine. What's more, it pads his lead in the Driver's Championship, putting him at 190 points compared to 176 for Hamilton, Ricciardo a further 70 points back with 106. Mercedes put another lock on the Constructor's Championship, going to 366 points, ahead of Infiniti Red Bull Racing with 188. Behind them is where it gets interesting, Williams with 121 points getting in front of Ferrari with 116, and Force India staying in front of McLaren, 98 points to 96.
Everyone's got seven days to prepare for the next show at the slow-speed Hungaroring. We'll see you then.