Hockenheim, Germany - The only people who could possibly have caught Nico Rosberg on Sunday were Interpol. He disappeared off our screens almost all afternheoon only to emerge as the inevitable winner of the German Grand Prix.
It was the perfect end to a fantastic fortnight for Rosberg who got married, watched Germany win the World Cup and signed a new £40 million (R725 milion) contract with Mercedes.
As Rosberg lapped up the German national anthem and the applause of his home crowd at Hockenheim, Lewis Hamilton looked slightly glum. He was perhaps a bit hard on himself, for he drove swashbucklingly well from 20th on the grid to finish third.
He slipped 10 points behind Rosberg in the drivers’ standings, a mercifully small margin given that brake failure in qualifying left his legs, back and car badly bruised.
“I don’t know how to answer that.”
Asked if his glass was half full or half empty at the end of an entertaining race, he sighed: “Hmm. Well. I came from the back to get on the podium - it’s quite an achievement so half full.
“But I can’t be too ecstatic about it because it has been a tough weekend for me and I’ve ultimately lost more points to Nico in the championship battle.”
The title will probably be decided by the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, where points ludicrously count double. The loser of that contest, joked Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, might need psychological help.
Hamilton was all action in Germany.
He went three abreast with Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari and Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull. It was reminiscent of a move that imprinted itself on the conscience of the wider world in the GP2 race at Silverstone eight years ago
He was again brave and daring, his car emerging from the outside of the hairpin ahead.
For the most part, his car was so much stronger than the rest that he simply scythed through the field. He briefly lay second while others pitted but was ultimately thwarted in his attempt to pip Williams’ Valtteri Bottas to runners-up spot.
Hamilton was not helped in this endeavour by clipping Jenson Button’s McLaren.
His front wing was damaged and he lost downforce, but he continued, waving in apology as he passed Button the following lap.
“He has been such a gentleman this year and not given me too much trouble getting past but it was just a misunderstanding today,” said Hamilton.
“I wasn’t close enough to try and pass but I was on the inside line in the corner. It looked like he had gone wide, then he cut back across the corner and perhaps he didn’t see me there. I lost quite a bit of downforce with the damage and it made it very hard to look after the front left tyre. We converted from a two-stop strategy to three.”
However, Button was unimpressed by Hamilton’s driving.
‘Why would we let anybody through?” he asked. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed but a lot of drivers do that line to get a good exit from the corner. The problem with Lewis is he expected me to let him past. I don’t think I’m the only person he drove into today. It’s strange. With his car being so much quicker you’d think he wouldn’t get into so many fights, but there you go.
“He drove into my rear wheel. I’m out there doing my race. It would make it boring if we all let him past when he was coming through the field.”
Bottas was no more willing to yield than Button, stubbornly defending from Hamilton in the closing laps. The Finn - who has long been rated highly by his boss Sir Frank Williams - is proving a fine driver in a car that is the best of the rest after Mercedes.
It was his third consecutive podium finish.
He is outgunning his team-mate Felipe Massa, the little Brazilian who was again entangled in a spectacular crash.
He was disputing the first corner with Kevin Magnussen when the two men collided. Massa was flipped over and skidded upside down along the asphalt for a second or two.
“It is normally a guy who comes from GP2 who causes this accident,” said Massa, in a classic case of finger-pointing. “I was in front. I was doing the corner in front of him. If anyone needs to watch, it is the car behind.”
Magnussen argued: “If I’d had somewhere to go, then there wouldn’t have been contact with Felipe. I did my best to try to avoid the accident but there wasn’t much else I could do.”
The stewards investigated the incident but decided, not unreasonably, that it was a ‘racing incident’ undeserving of a punishment for either man.
The race was threatened by rain throughout, but it was not until soon after the podium ceremony that it came.
Still, we were hardly starved of fun. We got another three abreast joust, this time with the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso, Raikkonen and Ricciardo’s Red Bull, and then a nip-and-tuck fight between Alonso and Ricciardo.
We held our breath when Adrian Sutil’s Sauber was left in the middle of the track.
Surely the safety car would come out. But, no, it stayed there until marshals finally scampered on and pushed it away. It was hairy.