Nico Rosberg has extended his championship lead by winning his home grand prix, using a two-stop strategy with one stint on the P Zero Red supersoft followed by two stints on the P Zero Yellow soft tire.
It was the first time that Rosberg had ever finished on the podium at the German Grand Prix, but the 300th podium finish for Williams, courtesy of Valtteri Bottas – on the podium for the third consecutive time.
Rosberg’s team mate Lewis Hamilton made up 17 places by finishing third, having started from 20th on the grid due to an accident in qualifying. Hamilton moved from a two to a three-stop strategy in the race, starting with two stints on the soft tire and using the extra speed of the supersoft for his final two stints. His last supersoft tire stint was 17 laps, during which he set fastest lap. This enabled him to close up to Bottas in the closing stages and finish only 22 seconds behind Rosberg, despite a damaged front wing.
The frontrunners on the grid all started on the supersoft tire, which was around a second per lap faster than the soft tire. Track temperatures were more than 20 degrees centigrade lower than they had been over the past two days, giving the teams a new dimension, but the expected risk of rain did not materialize. The drivers were able to push as hard as they could with some very close racing from start to finish: the gap at the end between Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in fifth and sixth was less than a tenth of a second, after 306 kilometers of racing.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “With conditions being a lot cooler than they had been previously, the teams were working in a somewhat unknown area when it came to tire behavior compared to the previous two days. We saw plenty of close racing – sometimes very close racing – that also affected tire wear and degradation. As expected there were between two and three pit stops, with two of the podium finishers, including the winner, stopping just twice. Although he stopped one more time than his direct rivals, Hamilton’s strategy allowed him to come right into contention from a long way down the grid. Our choice of the soft and supersoft ensured plenty of action and some exciting battles from start to finish, despite several different strategies being played out.”