Nico Rosberg has reacted with surprise at being handed a costly mid-race time penalty in the German Grand Prix as he ceded significant ground to race winner Lewis Hamilton in the fight for the 2016 F1 title.
The home hope started from pole position but a poor start – which he put down to wheelspin – saw him down to fourth by turn one, where he would remain throughout the opening stint behind Hamilton and the two Red Bulls.
RESULTS: German Grand Prix – Race results
Making an early stop to try and get the undercut, Rosberg succeeded in emerging ahead of Daniel Ricciardo but Max Verstappen would hold position. Spurred on by Mercedes telling him to push immediately, Rosberg dived to the inside of the hairpin in a late-braking manoeuvre and forced the Dutchman out wide.
With Verstappen taking to the run-off, Rosberg was up to second place only to learn he had been given a five-second penalty to serve at his next pit-stop. With Mercedes proceeding to bungle this as Rosberg stood stationary for eight seconds before his car was worked on, he'd head into his final stint back in fourth, where he would remain.
With Hamilton romping to victory, Rosberg was left frustrated to miss out on the podium because of a penalty he felt was unfair.
RACE REPORT: Hamilton romps to victory as Rosberg penalised
"It was racing, you know? I was really ecstatic at the time and that was awesome that I came from mile behind and was very happy to get the position because it meant second place at least. Damage limitation of sorts, and I was surprised to get a penalty for it.
“It's just one more of those things," he told Sky Sports F1
. When the day goes completely wrong, all those things come together but I don't think it made a difference in the end – I couldn't have challenged the Red Bulls anyway after the penalty.
The results means Rosberg heads into the summer break having allowed Hamilton transform a one point deficit into a 19 point advantage in just two races. However, he admits losing his home race will be difficult to 'digest' in the coming days.
“Nineteen points is not tough at all - 'tough' is losing the race in the way I did today. That's very, very tough and it's going to take some time to digest in the next few days."
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