Britain's Lewis Hamilton refused to indulge in a 19-point championship lead despite boosting his hopes of a third consecutive world title with victory at the German Grand Prix.
The 31-year-old dominated in Hockenheim to post his sixth win in seven races as Mercedes team-mate and rival Nico Rosberg, who finished fourth, endured a torrid home race. Red Bull duo Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen joined Hamilton on the podium.
A fourth successive triumph increased defending champion Hamilton’s advantage at the top of the drivers’ standings to a commanding 19 points heading into the mid-season break, having trailed Rosberg by 43 in May.
Hamilton, however, faces an engine penalty when the season resumes, which could see him start a grand prix from the back of the grid, leaving the Stevenage-born racer wary of over-valuing his leverage.
“I feel like I am closer to leading it,” said Hamilton after chalking up the 49th victory of his career.
“We do have a penalty up ahead. This engine has done amazing to get us to where we are and I’m super grateful for the life it has led and the laps we’ve led with it. It’s as good a buffer as I could get with the circumstances.”
Rosberg suffered a testing afternoon. After surrendering pole position and slipping to fourth early in proceedings, the 31-year-old was slapped with a five-point penalty for an unfair overtake of Verstappen during lap 29. Rosberg contested the sanction.
“I thought it was a good battle [with Verstappen] and I was very surprised I got penalised,” said Rosberg. “I didn’t expect that at all.”
Verstappen had a different view. He said: “He braked really late. When he came next to me, he just didn’t turn in. He forced me off the track. I could still see his hands going straight so I don’t know if that is full lock.”
Ferrari’s first race following the departure of technical director James Allison ended with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finishing a distant fifth and sixth respectively, while Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg came seventh.
McLaren’s Jenson Button outwitted Williams’ Valtteri Bottas on the penultimate lap to claim an eighth-placed finish, while Sergio Perez of Force India claimed the final point on offer.