Photo: Red Bull Racing
Rain at the start of qualifying gradually dissipated as the sessions occurred, but the overall outcome didn’t change much, an all-Mercedes front row of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton outpacing the rest of the field by roughly 2 sec. Rosberg entered the post-summer break race with an 11-point lead over his teammate, who was in turn 60 points ahead of Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull). Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) ran another 16 points back.
The next two rows of the grid had Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) in P3 with Alonso next to him, followed by Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas (Williams). Alonso had some issues starting his vehicle for the formation lap. Three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer (Audi Sport Team Joest) made his F1 debut with Caterham, starting on the back row.
Vettel jumped Rosberg for second at the start, but ran wide during the first lap allowing the Mercedes to retake P2. Rosberg was fighting Hamilton for first place during the second lap when contact between the two cut Hamilton’s left rear and removed Rosberg’s right front wing endplate. Hamilton’s delaminating tire also damaged his ride’s floor.
Alonso moved into third, setting fast lap along the way, but Ricciardo passed him on track one lap later take the spot. With Rosberg’s Mercedes also wounded, the Red Bull contest moved to the fore. When Vettel wiggled during Lap 6 (of 44), Ricciardo moved into second. Rosberg pitted during Lap 9 to change his wing.
Vettel came in two laps later, followed by Ricciardo during Lap 12. Once the cycle was complete, Ricciardo led Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), with Vettel in third. Ricciardo held a 6-sec lead during Lap 19. Raikkonen pitted during Lap 22, followed by Vettel on 23. Ricciardo made his stop with a double-digit lead on track, retaking the circuit in 3+ sec ahead of Rosberg with Raikkonen in third.
Rosberg pitted from second during Lap 35, putting on soft tires and retaking the track roughly 22 sec behind Ricciardo but cutting that to 19 by Lap 38 and less than 12 by Lap 40. Bottas passed Raikkonen for third at the same time. Rosberg’s lead shrank to 10.8 sec as Lap 41 began. The lead remained 8.4 sec with three laps to go, 6.2 with two, and 4.3 sec as the final lap began.
Ricciardo held on for the win, his second straight, followed by Rosberg and Bottas. Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) finished sixth to move past Felipe Massa (Williams) into ninth in the point standings. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) rose seven spots from P18 but finished outside the points.
Driver standings (Top 10)
Nico Rosberg (Germany), Mercedes – 220
Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain), Mercedes – 191
Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull-Renault – 156
Fernando Alonso (Spain), Ferrari – 119
Valtteri Bottas (Finland), Williams-Mercedes – 110
Sebastian Vettel (Germany), Red Bull-Renault - 98
Nico Hulkenberg (Germany), Force India-Mercedes – 69
Jenson Button (Great Britain), McLaren-Mercedes – 66
Kevin Magnussen (Denmark), McLaren-Mercedes – 45
Felipe Massa (Brazil), Williams-Mercedes - 40
Team standings (teams earning points)
Mercedes (Rosberg, Hamilton) – 393
Red Bull Racing-Renault (Vettel, Ricciardo) – 219
Ferrari (Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen) – 142
Williams-Mercedes (Bottas, Massa) – 135
Force India-Mercedes (Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez) – 98
McLaren-Mercedes (Magnussen, Button) – 97
STR-Renault (Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniil Kvyat) – 17
Lotus-Renault (Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado) – 8
Marussia-Ferrari (Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton) – 2
Next event: Gran Premio D'Italia – Monza - Sept. 5-7