Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2, Vettel crashes

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Germany, Hockenheimringde

The German Grand Prix has become an unpredictable event thanks to short showers of rain hitting the track. Error-free strategies and zero-mistake driving saw Hamilton win the race from 14th, ahead of team mate Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen.

The start of the German Grand Prix was a clean one, with no incidents at all, and with the top 4 maintaining their positions.

Most eyes were of course focused on Hamilton and Ricciardo, who started 14th and 19th respectively. Hamilton rapidly made progress and was already in a point scoring position after 6 laps. From that point on, he passed almost one car per lap until ending up in 5th. Getting to the top 4 had already become difficult, as they had left a big gap behind them.

Daniel Ricciardo's progress was a slower, most likely due to him starting the race on the medium compound tyres, which are obviously a lot less performant in the first few laps of their usage. He did however manage to get into 6th place before the front runners start making their first pitstops around lap 24. Still, 5 laps later, Ricciardo ended up standing still at Turn 11 after reporting "Losing power, something wrong".

At the same time, Verstappen pitted from the lead and rejoined the race in 5th position. This unleashed Raikkonen and Vettel, who were both chasing the Red Bull driver but seemed unable to make quick passes.

The pitstops turned out extremely well for Raikkonen, who managed to get ahead of Vettel and Bottas, thanks to an impressive out lap. Bottas on the other hand dropped into 4th, behind Hamilton who still had to stop.

On lap 34, Vettel went on the radio saying the situation "is just silly. I'm wasting time and ruining my tyres". Clearly, the German want's to be allowed to pass. Vettel subsequently told he could to a second a lap quicker, and then also queried if the team could see his tyre temperatures go up. This inevitably resulted in Raikkonen moving over on lap 39, being told they're both on different strategies.

One lap later, Bottas is told there was going to be rain in 8 minutes. Hamilton at the time was struggling and trying to keep his tyres alive until the rain arrived, but still he ended up changing to ultra soft tyres on lap 43.

On lap 45, rain hit the circuit at the hairpin. Leclerc and Alonso immediately dived into the pits to change to intermediates, hoping a lot moe rain would soon hit the track. It didn't seem enough, but on lap 47, Verstappen also changed to inters, with Gasly even switching to full wets. At the time, it was still only the hairpin that was wet ,with Verstappen's first lap on inters more than 10s slower.

On lap 49, Leclerc, Gasly, Alonso and Verstappen all pitted to switch back to ultra softs again.

Rain intensified just moments later, with the stadium section now also wet.

Leclerc got surprised twice at at this time, with the Monegasque first spinning on track, and then going a long way through gravel. Perez was also seen facing the wrong way in the stadium section.

On lap 53, Vettel overshot it and went head on into the tyre barriers, much to his frustration. The event brought out a safety car, which Bottas used immediately to pit. His pit crew wasn't ready by far though, so it ended up being a lengthy pitstop that dropped him back into third, behind Hamilton and Raikkonen. Hamilton nearly pitted at that moment as well, but when entering the pitlane, he still opted not to, and went through the grass to get back on the race track. The radio messages from his engineer said it all: "box box box..... no no no, stay, stay!".

While lots of drivers pitted, some switching to intermediates, others to ultrasoft and both Force Indias on soft.

After Raikkonen pitted as well behind the SC, positions behind the safety car were: Hamilton, Bottas, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez, Ocon, Ericsson, Sainz, Grosjean, Magnussen, Hartley, Vandoorne, Leclerc, Alonso, Gasly and Stroll. The latter didn't return to the track and retired, following his team mate who had retired 4 laps earlier.

By lap 56, still behind the safety car, everybody still on intermediates had pitted again to switch to ultra softs.

On lap 57, the race was on again with Hamilton leading. Bottas challenged for the lead on that lap, but then dropped a bit behind after being unable to make his passing attempt stick. The radio message "Valtteri, please hold position" explains a few things...

Raikkonen followed in third, ahead of Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez, Ocon, Ericsson, Hartley and Grosjean.

Positions remained unchanged, despite more rain in the final few laps.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarLapsTimePts
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG671:32:29.84525
277Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG67+4.535s18
37Kimi RäikkönenFerrari67+6.732s15
433Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer67+7.654s12
527Nico HulkenbergRenault67+26.609s10
68Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari67+28.871s8
711Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes67+30.556s6
831Esteban OconForce India Mercedes67+31.750s4
99Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari67+32.362s2
1028Brendon HartleyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda67+34.197s1
1120Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari67+34.919s0
1255Carlos SainzRenault67+43.069s0
132Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Renault67+46.617s0
1410Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda66+1 lap0
1516Charles LeclercSauber Ferrari66+1 lap0
1614Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Renault65DNF0
NC18Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes53DNF0
NC5Sebastian VettelFerrari51DNF0
NC35Sergey SirotkinWilliams Mercedes51DNF0
NC3Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer27DNF0

Note - Sainz finished the race in 10th place but received a 10-second time penalty for overtaking under Safety Car conditions