July 7th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - After taking pole position on Saturday, Lewis Hamitlon was expecting to fight for victory in the German Grand Prix. However, come Sunday, warmer conditions than were seen earlier in the weekend robbed the Mercedes of its usual performance. Neither Hamilton nor Rosberg had grip on their second set of tyres, and both found themselves falling down the field as a result. Later in the race, when the Silver Arrows were handling better, both drivers made up places and by the end they were running fifth (Hamilton) and ninth (Rosberg).
Hamilton has, surprisingly, been unable to convert pole position into victory so far this season. The 2008 World Champion has topped qualifying three times in 2013, but has a best finish of third place (in Malaysia, China and Canada). At the British Grand Prix last week, Hamilton was leading when his left-rear tyre exploded, which pushed him back to last place. Although he recovered to fourth by the end, it was not the result he was looking for.
In today's German Grand Prix, Hamilton's tyre issues were more about the car than the tyres themselves. His Mercedes struggled for grip on relatively heavy fuel, which meant he spent the whole of his second stint defending furiously from drivers who mostly managed to pass him. Later on in the race, he was able to recover to fifth place, and took home 10 points for his efforts.
Rosberg was on the back foot from the start, having missed out on the top ten in qualifying due to a strategic error by the Mercedes team. He struggled on the opening lap and, like Hamilton, lacked grip in the first half of the race. When he put the option tyres onto his Mercedes in the second half of the race, his car responded with the pace he expected and he was able to fight his way into ninth place for two points.
Mercedes now have a three-week break before the next race in Hungary to work out their tyre issues. It is unlikely that Formula One will see track temperatures as high as they were today at Nurburgring until much later in the season, which will play into the hands of Mercedes, who have a car that warms its tyres up easily but overheats them when track temperatures are high.
This is what the drivers had to say after the race:
Lewis Hamilton: "That was really a tough race out there for us today. I didn't have a great start and the Red Bulls were much quicker off the line, dropping me back to third. We really struggled with the second set of tyres which then compromised the rest of my race. It's a real shame as the team are working so hard and doing such a good job. We've clearly got a good car but for some reason, it doesn't work in these hot conditions. We'll keep working on it and the positive from today is that we were able to recover to fifth place with a good strategy and great pit stops, and we're still second in the Constructors' table. Hopefully we'll have a better chance at the next race but, for now, there's a lot of hard work ahead of us."
Nico Rosberg: "The car didn't feel so nice to drive today. We struggled a lot with the rear tyres and that's why we weren't able to match the pace of the guys in the front. Even so, I had a bit of fun when I changed to the option tyres and could really push to at least score a few points. But we need to understand the new tyres a bit more because it seems that the new construction has shuffled things around, especially in these hot conditions. We have to do a lot of work in the next weeks to make sure we arrive in Hungary in good shape."