Nico Rosberg won an action packed German Grand Prix as title rival and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton battled his way from 20th place to finish third.
The British driver recovered brilliantly to fight his way into the top three, just losing out at the end to Valtteri Bottas who claimed his third podium in a row with another sterling performance.
The race witnessed a dramatic start as the Williams of Felipe Massa and McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen connected into Turn 1, flipping Massa upside down into a barrel roll across the run off area as the safety car was deployed.
Daniel Ricciardo did his best to avoid the mayhem, but ended up losing ground and dropped to fifteenth as news filtered through that Massa was unhurt.
Following his 130mph crash in qualifying and a five-place penalty for a gearbox change, Hamilton started from 20th on the grid. Choosing to start on the ‘soft’ tyre, opposed to the majority ahead on the ‘super-softs’, the Briton was able to run until lap 26.
Having already carved his way through into the top 10, including a move on Adrian Sutil which resulted in slight contact at the hairpin on lap 7, Hamilton found himself on the tail on Ricciardo who also had impressively made his way through the field.
Lap nine saw contact between Force India’s Sergio Perez and Daniil Kvyat who had been squabbling over seventh place. The Toro Rosso driver attempted an ambitious overtake around the outside of Perez into Turn 8, but the gap disappeared leaving the young Russian in a spin.
As Ricciardo looked for a way past Kimi Raikkonen into the Hairpin, Hamilton set his sights on the two of them, using a powerful double toe in his favour before locking up into the corner and connecting with the Ferrari.
Raikkonen lost small amounts of its front wing as Hamilton managed to find a way through past the pair of them to move into seventh.
The Finn was once again involved in a three way tussle into that same corner a few laps later, as team-mate Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel continued their duel from Silverstone.
Vettel took to the inside of Raikkonen with Alonso around the outside, before Vettel came to blows with the #7 Ferrari, dislodging even more front wing as Alonso took advantage to find a way past his team-mate.
Turn 6 was the provider of the action once again on lap 30 as Hamilton and Jenson Button collided. The 29 year old braked later into the Hairpin than his former McLaren team-mate, who appeared to have given the Mercedes driver room before suddenly cutting back.
As a result Hamilton tagged the side pod of the McLaren with his front wing, causing a sizeable part to fall off. The next lap saw Hamilton complete his move into sixth on the run down to the Hairpin, with an apologetic wave to Button as he went past.
Rosberg was unchallenged and comfortable out front, pulling a 15.9 second gap to second placed Bottas by lap 41. Meanwhile Hamilton saw himself in third before stopping for a second time as he struggled with tyre wear, with Mercedes’ opting to switch him onto a ‘Super-soft’ stint.
Kvyat’s race came to an abrupt end in dramatic style with a large fire sweeping across his car, before Sutil span out of the race on lap 50, stalling in the process on the start/finish straight.
The stranded Sauber brought out the yellow flags as marshals darted across the track in a bizarre event which failed to see the safety car deployed.
Hamilton judged that a safety car period would be likely and pitted for the third and final time, however he was left bewildered like many others following the decision as he re-joined in fourth position.
The 2008 World Champion easily dispatched of Alonso before latching onto the back of Bottas’ Williams, but he could find no answer on older tyres with only a few laps remaining, as the Finn impressively held onto another second place finish.
Vettel got the better of Alonso once again for fourth, as Ricciardo took a close sixth following a fantastic fight with the Spaniard, who later hailed Ricciardo as “unbelievable”.
Nico Hulkenberg brought his Force India across the line for seventh, ahead of the McLaren’s of Button and a recovering Magnussen in eighth and ninth respectively, as Perez rounded up the points.
A fourth win of the season never looked in doubt for Rosberg, who converted pole into victory and extended his Championship lead to 14 points, whilst Williams jumped ahead of Ferrari in the Constructors.
Following his home win the German was ecstatic: “What a great day after so many great events for me this week” Rosberg said. “I came here hoping for a win and it worked out perfectly. My Silver Arrow was so dominant, thanks to the team for this fantastic car.
“Before the race I was worried that without the FRIC system the gap in the race would be smaller. But we were again the quickest out there. I did a two stop strategy, which was difficult to manage at the end of the stints as the tyres were almost gone.
“I’m so happy for Mercedes; it was the first win for many, many years in Germany. Thanks for the support here at Hockenheim, the fans were amazing to me.”
The final Formula One race before the summer break will demand a quick turnaround as the teams head to Budapest for next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, where the title fight between Rosberg and Hamilton will be sure to intensify further.