World championship leader Nico Rosberg completed the happiest two weeks of his life on Sunday when he won the German Grand Prix.
On a day of home celebrations, Rosberg cruised to an accomplished victory to increase to 14 points his lead over Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in this year’s championship.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win at home,” said Rosberg.
“I didn’t expect such a big advantage in the race.”
Rosberg had one worrying moment when Adrian Sutil spun and stalled his Force India on the start-finish straight, a mishap that threatened a return of the Safety Car and the loss of his carefully-built advantage.
“I definitely got a bit worried when I saw Sutil out there, as I thought it would be an SC,” he said. “That would have made it more difficult.”
The 29-year-old German, son of original flying Finn and 1982 champion Keke Rosberg, came home a comfortable winner 20.7 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Williams.
It was the Williams team’s 300th podium finish in Formula One and confirmed their recovery from a long period in the doldrums. There were seven Mercedes-powered cars in the top ten.
Hamilton came home third just 1.8 seconds behind Bottas, ahead of defending four time champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Australian Daniel Ricciardo, in the second Red Bull, who retained third place in the championship.
Rosberg’s win, also his first podium appearance at a German race, came after a week in which he had married his long-term girlfriend Vivian Sibold, signed an extended contract with Mercedes and celebrated Germany’s World Cup victory.
It was his fourth win of the season and the seventh of his career, but even such joyful supremacy was overshadowed in an incident-filled race by the bold passing pace of Hamilton, who started 20th on the grid following his crash in qualifying.
The Englishman delivered a thrilling series of moves but was unable to grab second place in the closing laps as Bottas hung on.
“I feel really happy to be third time in a row on podium,” said Bottas, who was third in Austria and second at Silverstone two weeks ago.
Bottas also became the first Williams driver to record three successive podium finishes since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2003.
Hamilton was left not knowing if he should laugh or cry.
“I had great fun. I did as good as I could. It was hard to get through the pack safely and I had a little bit of a collision with Jenson (Button),” said Hamilton.
“I thought he was going to open the door which he has done a couple of times lately, but that was my bad judgement. It was hard to overtake so I’m glad to get some points today.”
Another German, Nico Hulkenberg of Force India finished seventh ahead of Button and his McLaren team-mate, Kevin Magnussen.
Rosberg now has 190 points and leads Hamilton on 176 by 14 points while Bottas’ brilliant effort helped Williams overtake Ferrari in the constructors’ championship, rising to third behind Mercedes and Red Bull.
The race was filled with spectacle, starting with a first-corner collision involving Magnussen and Felipe Massa whose was pitched upside down in his Williams before his car rolled to a halt.
It was Massa’s third opening lap elimination this year.
“The accident was a little bit more scary watching than being inside,” he said.
“I just saw everything the other way around, but I am fine.”
After that, there were collisions and scrapes aplenty and a frightening fire that had Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat wriggling hurriedly out of his Toro Rosso.