Mercedes' driver Nico Rosberg celebrates after winning the German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring circuit in Hockenheim, southern Germany, on July 20, 2014Mercedes' driver Nico Rosberg celebrates after winning the German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring circuit in Hockenheim, southern Germany, on July 20, 2014 (AFP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)
Hockenheim (Germany) (AFP) - 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 for Mercedes to increase his lead ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in this year’s championship to 14 points.
"It's fantastic," said Rosberg. "It's an amazing feeling to win at home. It's a very special day. This weekend with pole and the win is awesome.
"I didn't expect such a big advantage in the race."
Rosberg added that he had one worrying moment during his steady drive to victory.
It came 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. But it was a great finish for me in the end.”
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 at the end of an enthralling 67-lap contest.
It was the Williams team’s 300th podium finish in Formula One and confirmed their recovery from a long period in the doldrums as a front-running outfit again. They were among seven Mercedes powered teams 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.
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 on his way through the field, but in the end 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.
“It was not easy and required input from all the engineers. Thanks to all the fans. I saw many Finnish flags so thank you."
Bottas also became the first Williams driver to record three successive podium finishes since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2003.
- Back to front Hamilton -
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 and Sergio Perez who finished 10th in the second Force India.
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 from first to last, starting with an opening lap collision that saw Magnussen collide with Felipe Massa at the opening corner, pitching Massa upside down in his Williams before his car barrel-rolled to a halt.
It was Massa’s third opening lap elimination this year.
“I am ok,” he said. “The accident was a little bit more scary watching than being inside. 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 saw Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat wriggle hurriedly to escape his blazing Toro Rosso.