HOCKENHEIM: Lewis Hamilton headed for the beach on Monday following his victory in Sunday’s German Grand Prix, but it was a very different story for his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and their traditional rivals Ferrari.
The defending world champion’s fourth successive win and sixth in seven races gave him a 19-point lead in the title race ahead of German Rosberg ahead of the traditional European summer break.
After winning the four season-opening races, Rosberg has been victorious only once in eight and he faces a struggle to regain lost ground in the closing nine events starting with the Belgian Grand Prix on August 28.
“This is going to take some time to digest and work out,” said Rosberg, who on Sunday started on pole and finished fourth.
Since the Spanish Grand Prix in May, he has also seen a 43-point advantage over Hamilton turned around.
Rosberg’s struggles allowed both Red Bulls of Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Dutch teenager Max Verstappen on to the podium in second and third places.
But for Ferrari, it was an even more profound setback to their high ambitions as four-time champion Sebastian Vettel and Finn Kimi Raikkonen came home fifth and sixth.
This result meant that Red Bull moved 14 points clear of the Italian team in second place in the constructors’ standings – a dent to the pride of the scarlet scuderia.
“We just weren’t fast enough,” said a downbeat Raikkonen. “It’s as simple as that, unfortunately. Hopefully we’ll find some tools to challenge both of them later on, but it’s not going to be easy.
“Everyone can see where we finished and it’s obviously painful for all of us.
“This is how it is right now and we just have to work hard and improve.”
– ‘We have to improve’ –
He added that he did not expect any dramatic changes in the weeks to come.
“The tracks change but we just have to work hard and improve,” he said.
He added that tyre wear had been a problem for him at Hockenheim.
“I was expecting the tyres to last a bit better, so it made a bit tricky,” he said.
“It wasn’t too bad when we had the first tyres, but they dropped off quite quickly. We need more down-force and this will make a difference with tyre life, but here it looks like we were just lacking overall speed.”
Team chief Maurizio Arrivabene admitted that a lack of progress with chassis development had hampered them.
The team last week split with technical boss James Allison, but the lack of progress, he said, went back to earlier in the year.
“In Canada we reacted quite well with the engine, but if I look at the situation now. and I go back, I think we don’t have great improvements in terms of down-force since Barcelona. That is the problem.
“We know where we have to work now and we have to do it as soon as possible, even if it is not easy.
“You have two types of down-force – one is aerodynamic and the other is mechanical we have to work in both areas.”
He added that Red Bull had done a good job to overhaul and pass Ferrari this season.
“I have to say they have improved quite well,” he admitted.
“It has been in our minds, but it doesn’t mean we are going to surrender – we have to think and we have to react.”
For Ferrari’s engineers, that may mean diminished beach time while their rivals are away soaking up the sunshine ahead of the closing stages of the season.