Five Takeaways from the German Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton won his fourth consecutive race of the 2016 F1 season on Sunday at the Hockenheim circuit in Germany. The Briton is now 19 points ahead of his teammate Nico Rosberg in the Drivers Championship as we enter a month-long summer break.
Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen rounded up the podium ahead of Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen respectively.
Rosberg—Bottled The Title?
Rosberg qualified on the pole with a stunning display in Q3, but nothing really worked out for him on Sunday.
He made a poor start that relegated him to fourth even before we had reached the second sector and when the 31-year-old started to recover, he was awarded a five-second penalty for his overtake on Verstappen. If that wasn’t bad enough, the five-second-penalty cost him eight seconds when he came to the pits, and the German didn’t threaten the two Red Bulls subsequently.
Amazingly Toto just told me that Rosberg’s stop was an extra few seconds too slow because of a “stopwatch issue”!!
— Karun Chandhok (@karunchandhok) July 31, 2016
Rosberg may think that the penalty was a bit harsh, but he turned in too late and clearly forced Verstappen off the track.
The German has now failed to finish on the podium five times in the last eight races and his 43-point lead that he had over Hamilton after the first four races has vanished.
With Hamilton facing the threat of grid penalty after the break, Rosberg will have the opportunity to significantly cut down his teammate’s advantage, but the current world champion has much more confidence and momentum going into the second half of the campaign.
Red Bull—Second in the Standings
With its fourth consecutive podium finish, Red Bull has more points than Ferrari for the first time since November 2014. Both Ricciardo and Verstappen made strong starts on Sunday, and were flawless throughout the race and benefited from a good team strategy by Christian Horner and his men.
Although Verstappen made an aggressive overtake on the outside of Turn 2 on Ricciardo on the first lap, no one really seemed to be bothered about it by the end.
“To finish up second and third on the podium here at Hockenheim, to have outscored Ferrari and go into the summer break with a 14 point advantage over them in the Constructors’ Championship is a great end to a really strong first half of the year,” Horner commented.
He further added: “Time for a well-earned break for all of the team, to recharge their batteries and come back for the final nine races, where there are circuits on the calendar that will hopefully suit us.”
Ferrari—Biggest Disappointment of the Year?
Before the start of the season, many critics, fans and experts, including Bernie Ecclestone, were expecting Ferrari to mount a strong challenge to Mercedes. Twelve rounds into the season, and it is safe to say that Sergio Marchionne will be happy just to finish above Red Bull.
Hockenheim is a power circuit, but the lack of grip and downforce of the SF16-H in the second and third sectors meant Räikkönen and Vettel had no way to compete with Mercedes and Red Bull.
“While one week ago, in Hungary, our race pace was totally respectable, here in Hockenheim we experienced again some issues with both mechanical grip and downforce, which unfortunately are not unknown to us. Obviously, we must react as quickly as possible to cure these problems and most of all we must lose not to too much time in the process,” team principal Maurizio Arrivabene stated.
It’s also worth pointing out that Vettel questioning the team’s strategy during the race only indicates the lack of trust among the team members at present.
Before the race, the Russian media was reporting that Daniil Kvyat could be dropped from Toro Rosso at the end of the year. While the 22-year-old squashed the rumors, he did admit that his future looks bleak in F1.
“It’s looking very bad now, and if it continues like this then I don’t think anything bright is ahead,” he told Autosport after qualifying in Germany, where he couldn’t even manage to enter Q2. “I just need to get things going, and once I do that, then it will be fine. It’s not like I’m having the most pleasant time in the world, it’s not easy, but it’s not an excuse.”
Kvyat finished 15th in the race and with Toro Rosso likely to struggle in the second half of the season because of its stuttering 2015 Ferrari power unit, the Russian will get very few chances to prove his worth.
Force India—Catching up Williams
Williams had another poor outing this weekend with Valtteri Bottas finishing ninth and Felippe Massa retiring with damage to the rear of the car. On the other hand, Force India had both of its drivers in the points and gap between the two teams has now reduced to 15 points.
Good way to end the first part of the season before summer break. Now only 15 points behind Williams. Press on Force India @ForceIndiaF1
— Vijay Mallya (@TheVijayMallya) July 31, 2016
Jenson Button Performs Well- The Briton finished an impressive eighth, helping McLaren-Honda shrink the deficit to Toro Rosso to just three points.
Williams Back With The Fastest Pit-Stop Mantle- Something that might give the team some respite considering Mercedes had stolen this crown in the last two races.
Gutierrez’s Blue Flag Woes — The Mexican has some serious issues in moving out of the way of the leaders. Last weekend, he miffed Hamilton by holding him up and this time, it was Ricciardo. “To be honest, off the track, I have no problem at all with Esteban,” said Ricciardo. “But just on the track just lately, it’s come up the last few races that a few of us haven’t been that impressed with the blue flags. We’ve discussed it in drivers’ meetings.”
Rosberg Lacking Home Support — Having been born and bred in Monaco, Rosberg didn’t exactly get the same kind of support that Hamilton got in Silverstone.
Radio Ban Lifted — Both the fans and the teams were clearly delighted with the removal of radio ban.