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Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Ricciardo pushes Mercedes to breaking point // Aussie continues to show the pace of a future world champion

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There may not have been masses of wheel to wheel action in Germany but there were still some fascinating battles and some great drives throughout the field as it became clear who was fully focused right until the summer holidays. Unfortunately it also showed that while Rosberg was giving it everything, making aggressive moves to reduce the loss to Hamilton, his mind, and clearly that of his chief mechanic had started to wonder a day early.

School’s out, get the ‘shoeys’ in

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing: Started 3rd, Finished 2nd

Ricciardo was consistently near the top of the timesheets throughout the weekend
Credit: Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Daniel was so desperate for that first buzz of the summer holidays that he resorted to using his shoe rather than a champagne glass but it was very well earned. Ricciardo was consistently near the top of the timesheets throughout the weekend, sixth was his lowest in FP1. In qualifying, he was again on the pace and found eight tenths in Q3 to qualify third, the closest to the Mercedes.

In the race, make no mistake, the Aussie beat Rosberg on merit, regardless of the German’s tough but fair penalty. It appeared Red Bull had disadvantaged Ricciardo again with strategy as they made the switch to a three stop strategy, not running the soft tyres to the optimum length and losing out on the undercut to both Rosberg and Verstappen after his second stop.

There was a benefit however; suddenly the Australian had far fresher supersoft tyres to attack and hunt for a podium, and no longer had to run either of the two harder tyre options. With that, Ricciardo was quickly on the back of Verstappen who tried to resist but ultimately allowed Riccardo through without incident, allowing the Aussie to chase after Rosberg. The gap tumbled as the German’s tyres and his will faded. Rosberg pitted, and Ricciardo was through, able now to launch a bid for victory.

On the same strategy, Hamilton and Ricciardo made their final stops at similar times and suddenly the Aussie was easily the fastest man on the circuit. Partly through traffic and partly through Hamilton clearly trying to make his engines last as long as possible, Ricciardo started eating into the lead. A lap by Hamilton was clearly sent as a message to the Aussie to call off the dogs, the Merc had a little in hand. Regardless, it was a stunning drive by Ricciardo, battling past Verstappen after the Dutchman made an incredible move and led the pair in the first stint, and beating Rosberg on pace, and comfortably so. Can he do it again when everyone has recharged their batteries after the summer break?

Hulk stars on home ground

Nico Hülkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 Team: Started 8th, Finished 7th

Hülkenberg was consistently in the top 10
Credit: Sahara Force India F1 Team

The German has had a frustrating season so far and he looks a long way off his stunning form of 2012 and 13. In truth, he appears on par with his usual points total, but he isn’t getting the most out of the car in the same way Checo Pérez is. That doesn’t stop the occasional gem of a performance every so often and this weekend was one of them.

After a tough FP1, Hülkenberg was consistently in the top 10 over the course of the weekend. After qualifying for Q3 by two tenths, Nico went into the shootout with nothing to lose and pipped Bottas and Pérez to seventh on the grid within two tenths of the Ferraris, unfortunately having to drop behind Bottas after an admin penalty.

In the race, Hülkenberg was in a consistent battle for best of the rest, following Bottas for the first two stints. After two very similar stints, Williams went off book and kept Bottas out as everyone stopped. With Hülkenberg on far fresher soft tyres for the final 23 laps, he was able to close the gap at a rate of knots, passing for 7th on lap 61. While Ferrari were thirty seconds down the road, it was a great drive by the Hulk to finish as best of the non-top teams as the battle for fourth in the constructors heats up.

Button recovers to continue McLaren revival

Jenson Button, McLaren Honda: Started 12th, Finished 8th

As disappointing as Saturday was for McLaren, there were signs of the innate pace of the McLaren as he recovered from 12th on the grid to a solid points finish. Button ran in the midfield for much of the race, passing Massa, Pérez and Gutiérrez on the first lap to put him in with a great chance of points.

Button was on it and turned up the wick desperate to secure an extra couple of points
Credit: McLaren Honda

After converting to a three stop, it was a case of managing fuel and holding off teammate Alonso during the second half of the race. Once Bottas’ Williams started ailing with tyres falling off the cliff late on, Button was on it and turned up the wick desperate to secure an extra couple of points, which he did with a simple move on the penultimate lap.

Gutiérrez on the verge once again

Esteban Gutiérrez, Haas F1 Team: Started 11th, Finished 11th

There’s no doubting who the quicker Haas was in Germany, even despite missing Friday first practice. From Saturday morning Gutiérrez was on a mission for his second ever points finish. Unfortunately he came up just short, and while starting where he finished may have seemed like a standard, boring race, it was anything but for the Mexican.

A stellar qualifying saw Gutiérrez on the cusp of the top 10, closer than he’s ever been to the shootout as he was 11th on the grid, less than two tenths off Q3. He had a terrible start which dropped him to 18th and rather damaged his hopes with an alternate strategy. The strategy, starting on soft tyres, did get him back into contention, as he stayed out until lap 25, running as high as tenth as others ahead pitted.

By lap 30 he was back up to 14th and running well on the supersofts. He made it up to 11th before a second stop on lap 47 for another set of supersofts. Back down in 14th, he made light work of Magnussen and Sainz and set off after points. Gutiérrez was the only man to make a two-stop strategy competitive and passed Alonso on the final lap for 11th. He finished just seven seconds behind Pérez, despairingly close to a much-needed points finish.