Lewis Hamilton equaled Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of seven world championships with victory in the German Grand Prix, winning the race from pole position on his way to his 59th career victory.
After a first-lap crash with Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton soon began to pull away from Vettel, who had come out on top in the battle for the second pole position, a race he had won comfortably.
“It was really difficult and tricky out there today but I think that the car is phenomenal, it has amazing power,” Hamilton said. “I put four brakes on and then bounced over. What happened, I don’t even know how it happened.”
Much of the battle was purely out of the hands of Mercedes, with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa a single second back and Fernando Alonso three seconds behind for McLaren.
Hamilton had started on pole position last year at Nurburgring too, setting a record for the fastest pole time in a season, but the Briton had been forced to retire early in the race as he was colliding with Nico Rosberg.
With 17 races remaining in the season, the championship is going to be decided by who goes to the world championships later this year.
Vettel did not consider the mistakes suffered at the end of last year cost Hamilton from now on.
“It’s not something we’re thinking about because we really have to give credit to Lewis for his sixth win of the season. We can’t stop that,” Vettel said.
It looked like the Ferrari had pulled away during the race, but the team was celebrating much longer, as it helped to drive Hamilton back out of the hunt.
A combination of things was at play at the end, with Vettel appearing to lock up his brakes while entering the first chicane and then Hamilton struggling with tire life and tires not working properly on tires which had been on for longer than anyone expected.
Vettel said when questioned on radio: “Oh thank God. No one looks like that, all the guys with the brake pads and tires come out good. That’s how we work.”
Power had been limited throughout the race, with Vettel having to cut a corner in the first lap, and there were several power problems in the first half of the race as the pace was tempered by the challenging and often slippery track conditions.
And, at the end, when Hamilton showed the race was well in hand, Alonso had to slow his car as he approached the pit lane, unable to get to safety in time.
Alonso went to the garage with 4 laps to go, in the car of Romain Grosjean for Haas. He was returned to the cockpit two laps later, but more damage to the car saw him pulled out of the race altogether with a flat tire.
“Romain did a great job, he was right on it the whole race,” Hamilton said. “With the tire degradation in the last 15 laps we had to pull it down. It’s frustrating. This was the first time we had a bad luck.”
The FIA ran extra safety cars at times, giving both drivers and the fans more time to recover from the situation.
With 15 laps to go, Finn Valtteri Bottas was having to come in and straighten his lines as he battled with Carlos Sainz for fourth.
“The team are telling me, it’s not doing me any good,” Bottas said. “I am not feeling any pressure, I have to manage my confidence and make sure I try to get into fourth position.”
With only five laps to go, Renault driver Jolyon Palmer’s bad luck continued with another failure on his engine, prompting the team to bring in Romain Grosjean from the pit lane for the final position in the closing stages.
The number of recalls of Mercedes engines this season reached six, after this one, and it remains to be seen how much more bad luck the team is facing as it attempts to retain the leadership position in the championship.
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