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Paddock Postcard from Germany

20 Jul 2014

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg had a busy build-up to his and the team’s home race.

As well as making a factory visit, attending a fan forum and the Mercedes-Benz Classic, the German driver found time to get married, savour his national team winning the football world cup, and survive the much-publicised furore surrounding his helmet design celebrating their triumph.

In the Hockenheim paddock there were plenty of familiar faces around despite the intense heat that bathed it for most of the weekend.

Gerhard Berger was his usual cheerful self and reports that the right arm he injured in a skiing accident recently is getting better slowly as damaged nerves recover. Former F1 racer Jos Verstappen visited with his Euro F3-winning son Max, Haas’s Guenther Steiner made another fact-gathering trip, and former GP2 racer and now WEC Porsche mainstay Neal Jani hung out at Toro Rosso with hugely popular actor/racer Patrick Demspey, who was competing in the Porsche Supercup races.

On track, Mitch Evans scored a superb victory in the 200th GP2 race, despite battling his Russian Time car’s handling in qualifying because of a problem with the front suspension and lining up only 15th.

He gambled on running the soft Pirelli tyre at the start and moved up to 11th on the opening lap before surviving a collision with Alexander Rossi’s Campos car which put the American Caterham refugee out with a broken steering rod. He was then able to pass the DAMS and Trident cars of Stephane Richelmi (who was also on the soft tyre), and Johnny Cecotto Jr and to stay out until the 14th lap before making his mandatory pit stop to change to the mediums.

Crucially, when fellow soft tyre users Arthur Pic (Campos) and Raffaele Marciello (Racing Engineering) pitted in fifth and sixth places the heat sink from being stationary was so great that their engines stalled, handing him two more positions.

Meanwhile, ART’s Stoffel Vandoorne seemed headed for his second victory of the season after taking the lead from polesitter Jolyon Palmer’s DAMS machine at the start and building a decent lead as the Briton fended off Marciello’s team mate Stefano Coletti. But even though Evans had been baulked for a time by Sergio Canamasas, he went round Vandoorne for the lead when the Belgian rejoined.

Vandoorne thought the New Zealander still had to pit, and by the time he realised he already had and that he had to challenge him, he had lost any advantage from his fresh tyres. That set up a tense battle between the two of them and Palmer for the remainder of the race, but Evans was able to defend his lead to take a brilliant victory that moves him closer to title contention.

Coletti took an excellent fourth after a huge battle in the closing stages with Carlin’s title contender Felipe Nasr and Cecotto Jr, with Simon Trummer taking sixth for Rapax after Cecotto ran off track. The Venezuelan was seventh from Lazarus’s Nathanael Berthon who clinched pole for Sunday’s sprint race.