Few would’ve conceived Hamilton would triumph for the third time at home when Rosberg dispatched Williams drivers Bottas and Massa for second and carried on about catching the Briton during the opening segment of rain showers threatened to change the landscape of the Grand Prix at three quarters of race distance.
Indeed, unintentionally Rosberg’s menacing chase as he chopped down the multiple seconds to Hamilton into virtually nothing would’ve drove him into the pitbox for what he called “best pit call of his career” on lap 43.
He pitted for a set of intermediate tyres and maximised the interval to his German nemesis when heavens opened up from westerly parts of the circuit. Rosberg was dancing all over the place and lost crucial time with the wrong hard slick tyres before making it into the pits for a change.
Formula One’s latest catchphrase would perhaps be – if you can’t overtake them, undercut them! as evident from today’s race. The Mercedes pair got away awfully slow leaving Massa and Bottas to launch through the middle and take the lead before messing all up in the due course.
Williams’ pitwall do have a fair share of responsibility in not converting that gifted opportunity into a double or at least one podium finish. Having jumped at the start, they seemed very quick through the straights for the works Mercedes duo and perhaps should’ve let Bottas to get past Massa who was fastest of the two.
Instead, they decided to stay on course without racing each other and pull away together. The Finn was certainly not pleased of being held up by his teammate as Hamilton was all over his back.
Despite receiving the overtake permission a little while later, only if it’s a clean manoeuvre, Bottas lost ground in the first round of stops much to the delight of home crowd as Mercedes’ undercut worked perfectly to elevate Hamilton into the lead.
Rosberg and Bottas pitted together for prime tyres only to see Hamilton wave them by and rejoined behind Massa who was the first casualty of undercut. The German driver wasted no time as he overtook the Williams pair when the track temperature got cooler and rain arrived. The Grove-based team couldn’t get temperatures into the tyres as soon as they would’ve liked and were sitting ducks on the wet track and ended up fourth and fifth.
Ferrari’s return to podium since Monaco came courtesy of Sebastian Vettel who trailed Raikkonen for most parts of the race. His did pit around Hamilton’s last stop and emerged in the spotlight for third after spending the first half scrapping with Red Bull and Force India.
Meanwhile, Raikkonen’s choice to strap on inters before the frontrunners was an ill-fated decision after coming under pressure from his very own Ferrari teammate. He finished eighth sandwiching the Force India pair of Hulkenberg and Perez.
The B-spec VJM08 delivered on its promises with a double points finish escalated by the fact that Hulkenberg was running as high as fifth ahead of both the Ferraris in the opening parts of the race.
Rewarded with a sixth place, Kvyat had an absolutely stranglehold of that position for Red Bull after qualifying exactly in that position. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso held his nerves in mixed conditions to coast home tenth. The double world champion’s first point of the season was much welcomed after denouncing that his team won’t be competitive until Japanese GP.
Manor Marussia endured a successful weekend with P12 for Merhi and P13 for home driver Stevens on their updated MR03B capitalising on numerous retirements at the start including that of Lotus pair Grosjean and Maldonado and the other McLaren of Jenson Button. (Suren M)