Lewis Hamilton has admitted his love of a challenge is keeping him in the hunt for this season’s Formula 1 world title.
A right-front brake disc failure in qualifying for the German Grand Prix that pitched Hamilton into a tyre wall at an impact of 30g, and subsequent five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, had left the 29-year-old with an uphill battle to make the podium in his Mercedes.
But Hamilton produced a brilliant battling performance to fight his way up from 20th to third at Hockenheim, finishing behind race-winning team-mate Nico Rosberg and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas.
In terms of damage limitation, Hamilton could not have mustered too much more, losing only 10 points to Rosberg, to fall 14 points adrift with nine races remaining.
At the end of another trying weekend for Hamilton, he said: “It’s not been a smooth season for me, as it has mostly been for the guy I’m racing against.
“But I never like to win easily, and I don’t want it easy. Some don’t mind that, but I do like a challenge, although at some points it does get a bit too much.
“This weekend for instance, unfortunately I wasn’t able to complete qualifying and I had to pull something out of the bag, which I’ve had to do a few times now.
“But then perhaps if I’d had a collision with someone and lost points that would have been really devastating, but I stayed clear – just about – and got points.
“In the end I got the job done, so I can go away happy knowing I did a good job.
“I’m grateful I was able to do that, grateful I’ve the car to do that, so it’s not so bad.”
It was better than “not so bad” because for only the second time since Hamilton arrived in F1, he claimed a podium finish from a starting position outside the top 10, the other being from 17th to third in Brazil back in 2009.
Mercedes determined Hamilton completed 15 overtaking manoeuvres in total on track, while there were three separate minor collisions involving Sauber’s Adrian Sutil, Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari and former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button.
As for Rosberg, he barely figured in any of the television pictures such was the comfortable nature of his lights-to-flag triumph, with the focus instead on Hamilton and other scraps down the field.
That will not concern him, with his success in front of his home fans completing an astonishing few days for the 29-year-old.
After getting married, watching his home nation win the World Cup and signing a new long-term deal with Mercedes, Rosberg became the first German driver in a German car to win the German Grand Prix in F1 history.
“It’s fantastic. It’s an amazing feeling for me to win here at home. A very special day for me,” said Rosberg.
“I’ve been really fortunate. Many positive things have happened in the past week and a half which have been really enjoyable, and now this weekend with pole and the win is just awesome.”
Behind the lead trio were two other world champions in Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who endured a titanic struggle with the second Red Bull of Ricciardo over the closing stages, just holding sway.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, followed by McLaren duo Button and Kevin Magnussen, with Sergio Perez in his Force India completing the top 10.
As for Williams’ Felipe Massa, who started third, his race was over at turn one when he was flipped over by Magnussen, but he walked away unharmed. (Press Association)