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Winners and losers - Germany

01 Aug 2016

A new form of celebration graced the F1 podium after Sunday's Formula 1 Grosser Preis von Deutschland 2016 - but it wasn't just Daniel Ricciardo who left Hockenheim smiling. Who hit their stride in Germany - and who heads into the summer break on the back foot?
The winners...

Lewis Hamilton

Where else to start? The Briton left Hockenheim beaming in the manner you would expect of a man heading into a four-week gap with a 19-point lead in the championship. Could even Hamilton himself have imagined such a turnaround, having trailed team mate and chief rival Nico Rosberg by 43 points after just five races?

It wasn't a perfect weekend for the Briton - but when it mattered, he got it right. A fantastic start gave him the lead, and he controlled the race without putting a foot wrong thereafter, securing victory even while preserving his car.

"I didn't make any mistakes, so in my heart I'm happy with what I did today," he said.

"I came to do a job… I saved my engine a lot, which is why they [Red Bull] closed up as much as they did. I only needed a six second gap really, they wanted me to keep six seconds. It went from 11 to seven quite quickly and then I had to get back on it, but generally I was looking after the engine up front. I never felt like I was under threat."

The statistics keep piling up. Hamilton now sits on 49 Grand Prix wins, just two short of Alain Prost and a share of second on the all-time list, behind only Michael Schumacher.

He sits on 96 podiums, just four away from breaking into triple figures - a feat again that only Prost and Schumacher have achieved. And of course he edges another step toward a fourth championship crown.

As Hamilton put it, "Saturday wasn't perfect, but you learn from those things - and the race was a real show of looking at the glass half full and filling it up."

Daniel Ricciardo...

Yes, the Honey Badger's toothy grin was back in abundance in the post-race press conference, and well it might have been. For the second race in succession he had finished on the podium; and for the second race he had a distinct edge on upstart team mate Max Verstappen. Indeed, he even kept Hamilton honest, even if the world champion was in engine preservation mode.

"Once we put the supersofts on, the last two stints, that's where I really felt like I could push the car," he said. "It came alive, and that's where in the end we got the second place. We had good pace and it was nice. It's nice to go on the summer break with a result I'm happy with."

His confidence was boosted in Hungary, and as the F1 circus prepares for the break before Spa, he'll be even harder to beat there.

...and the 'Shoey'

F1 hasn't lacked for patented celebrations on the podium, but the sport had a welcome new addition on Sunday courtesy of Ricciardo. After all, how else do you celebrate a podium on your 100th Grand Prix other than quaffing champagne from your race boot?

Red Bull

A double podium for the first time in a year, and jumping ahead of Ferrari in the standings for the first time in nearly two. No wonder Red Bull were celebrating hard on Sunday.

What was perhaps most impressive about the team's performance is that it wasn't expected. They had entered the weekend believing the track would not suit the RB12, and that they might therefore struggle. Saturday quickly changed their mindset however, and they immediately switched into hunting mode for the race. It paid off gloriously: both Verstappen and Ricciardo had spells in second place, and both comfortably outpaced the Ferraris. Even better, from their perspective, was that Verstappen and Ricciardo worked together to make the most of Rosberg's penalty, and ensure the best possible result for the team.

"Two weekends in a row now it's a podium and, for the team, we're now second in the constructors', so I think we can be really proud, both of us, to split the Mercedes today," Ricciardo said. "It's a really good effort. We really capitalised on a good day. We had a good car. Obviously we couldn't win, but second and third isn't too bad."

Jenson Button

This was Button at his best, able to make full use of a strategy that team mate Fernando Alonso struggled with, and even picking off an ailing Valtteri Bottas late on to secure eighth.

The Briton made his race in the first few corners, climbing from 12th on the grid to ninth and thereafter managing to stay in points contention for the rest of the afternoon.

"After that start, it was just about looking after the tyres, which were degrading faster than we'd expected," he explained. "We also had to do a fair amount of fuel-saving, too, particularly in the last 10 laps. In fact, I went off the circuit towards the end, just because I was doing so much fuel-saving that I hit the brakes and they were just stone cold. I hadn't even been braking hard. 

"At the end I was able to pick off Valtteri, who was struggling on his tyres. It feels satisfying to have beaten both Williams, but eighth was as good as it was going to get today." 

Kvyat's resilience

On Saturday, Daniil Kvyat sounded like a broken man. Eliminated in Q1, seven spots and half a second behind team mate Carlos Sainz, he was incredibly downbeat.

"I don't know anymore," was his verdict. "I didn't do a good job, a very poor lap and very poor driving."

Credit must go to the 22-year-old then for a much improved drive on Sunday. Toro Rosso struggled overall, but Kvyat made steady progress and wound up directly behind Sainz - less than three seconds split the pair - at the chequered flag.


And the losers...

Nico Rosberg

Too much wheelspin compromised Nico Rosberg's start, but that was just the beginning of a bad afternoon. He then got duffed up by Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap after falling to fourth, and was later penalised for running Max Verstappen off the road after overtaking him going into the hairpin just before mid-distance.

"It took me by surprise, definitely," he said. "I didn't expect a penalty for that. It was racing. I was really ecstatic at the time because I thought 'Wow, that was awesome, I came from miles behind.' And I was very happy to get the position because that meant I would have got second place at least - it was damage limitation. Like I said, I was very surprised to get a penalty for it."

Things got worse. When he served his penalty during his final pit stop, having worked up to second place through good team strategy, Mercedes timed him for eight rather than five seconds.

"Even in a Formula 1 team with all of the high-tech, if you use instruments that you don't usually use, like a stopwatch, they can fail," team boss Toto Wolff confessed. "The stopwatch didn't start properly and once we realised, we had to take it safe, and this is why it took longer than normal. We could have also counted, but we relied on the stopwatch and it let us down."

Rosberg played down the effect of dropping 19 points behind team mate Hamilton, but the momentum is hard to ignore. Hamilton has won six of the last seven races; Rosberg has three podiums in the same time.

And as if to make it worse, rather than getting back to racing immediately, he now has nigh on four weeks to stew on how fortune has swung so wildly...

Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were never in the game at Hockenheim, coming home a distant - and almost anonymous - fifth and sixth. 

At times they were lapping as fast as the Mercedes and the Red Bulls, but the overall story was more bleak, with both men more than half a minute behind the winning Mercedes.

Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene spoke glumly of issues with mechanical grip and downforce - an area both drivers also said the team needs to address. 

"We're usually faster in the race than we are in qualifying, but this wasn't the case today," Vettel said. "We were sliding around too much and this affected the tyres as well. Fifth and sixth place was the best we could do, but we obviously can't accept that."

Williams' two-stop gamble

Three-stop strategies were the order of the day, but Williams opted to go against the grain and try to make a two-stopper work for Bottas. It didn't pay off.

Bottas did a laudable job himself, but towards the end of the race he fell off the fabled tyre cliff, and was helpless as Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button picked him off. 

It was almost worse: Sergio Perez closed by nearly five seconds on the final lap, taking the chequered flag just 1.5s behind the Williams.

"With Valtteri, we tried a strategy which clearly didn't work," Williams' head of performance engineering Rob Smedley admitted. "We deployed the wrong tactics, which is something we've got to learn from. As a group of people, we get it right most of the time, but today we didn't. We thought the tyres would go to the end but they didn't."

To make matters worse, Felipe Massa struggled with a poor-handling car after being clouted on the opening lap by Jolyon Palmer's Renault, and eventually had to be retired.

In the last five races Williams have scored 13 points, to closest rival Force India's 39...

Toro Rosso

Kvyat may feature in our winners section purely for his mental resilience, but overall this was an unhappy weekend for the team.

Fundamentally the STR11 lacks pace - a problem the team were always going to encounter (and one that will only get worse) given their use of Ferrari's 2015-spec engine.

The issue is beginning to tell in the points standings too. A slow pit stop for Sainz while he was running 12th didn't help matters, but the team left Germany having finished 15th and 16th. They have scored 13 points in the last five races. McLaren, conversely, bagged eighth - taking them to 17 points for the same period, and to within three points of denying Toro Rosso sixth in the constructors' championship.

Perez's start

"It's safe to say today was the worst start in my whole career," was Perez's take on a getaway that saw him drop from ninth to 16th. That compromised his entire afternoon, although he was eventually able to fight back through for 10th.

Fernando Alonso

Traffic could legitimately be blamed for Alonso trailing Button in qualifying, but the race was a different story. 

The Spaniard chased his team mate almost throughout, but faded badly at the end as fuel-saving issues bit. And while a sizzling out-braking move on Esteban Gutierrez reminded observers of his true talent, there was also the unusual sight of the Spaniard getting mugged by Sergio Perez while the pair were being lapped - a move that ultimately cost Alonso 10th, and the final point of the race. Small wonder he described the race as "possibly one of the toughest so far this season".