Verstappen wins spectacular wet race at Hockenheim

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Germany, Hockenheimringde

Max Verstappen has won the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim as he and his team mastered the complicated and continuously varying weather conditions. Sebastian Vettel took second as Daniil Kvyat was a similarly surprising third.

As was predicted, rain influenced the start of the German Grand Prix, with a very wet track greeting the cars at the beginning of the race, and mild rain continuing during the first 20 minutes of the race.

The actual start didn't happen after a single formation lap though, and the safety car once again stayed on the track for too long. Verstappen, Hamilton and Magnussen were all broadcasted to report that the track was perfectly fine, as early as the first lap.

Halfway through the fourth installation lap, it was eventually announced the pack would take a standing start, much to the joy of the spectators.

When the lights went out, Verstappen totally missed his start and ended up 5th, only to move up into 4th again before the end of the lap. Ahead of him was Hamilton in the lead, followed by Bottas and Raikkonen.

Hulkenberg followed in 5th, ahead of Leclerc, Grosjean, Gasly, Sainz, Magnussen, Perez, Ricciardo and Vettel, who had already gained 6 positions through the first lap.

Verstappen soon recovered and on lap 2 of 64, of re-passed Raikkonen for 3rd.

At exactly the same time, Sergio Perez parked his car in the wall, requiring the safety car back out on track. Vettel was the first to pass by the pit entry and he immediately pitted and changed to intermediates. Once the Mercedes completed their laps, they too pitted, just like Verstappen, Raikkonen and just about everybody else, all changing to intermediate tyres.

Magnussen and Stroll were about the only ones to not have pitted, placing them third and 6th when the Safety Car left the track to get the race going again on lap 5. Leclerc at that time was 5th, Raikkonen dropped down to 9th and Vettel had improved to 10th.

After the restart, Gasly was the main loser, as he outbraked himself on the hairpin, going so wide that he ended up last.

It was also immediately obvious that the intermediates were immediately the better tyres to be on, with Magnussen and Stroll struggling to keep up the pace, and rapidly losing positions.

By lap 12, a clear dry trajectory was obvious on most sections of the track. Lewis Hamilton put that to perfect use to go fastest lap by lap, slowly distancing the men behind him.

Three laps later, the Renault engine in Ricciardo's car had enough of it, pouring out white smoke and forcing the Australian to park his car. Despite seeking a proper spot, Ricciardo's halt did cause a virtual safety car period. Meanwhile, as Albon held back a little due to being surprised by the smoke, Gasly swiftly moved past the Toro Rosso driver to move up into 13th, and then 12th when Ricciardo moved out of the way as well.

The VSC also saw pitstops for Leclerc and Hulkenberg. The latter notably dove into the pits at the very last possible moment, only just managing to avoid hitting the cone that is positioned at the split of the circuit and the pit entry.

The stops proved fruitful. As Leclerc went off to set the fastest lap - 1.2s faster than what Verstappen managed that lap - while staying in 4th place, Hulkenberg managed to easily get by Raikkonen to move up into 5th.

A few moments later, Sainz ended up slightly off track, leaving him sliding and spinning until coming to a halt just a few centimeters from the barrier. He rejoined, but down in 16th, behind teammate Lando Norris.

On lap 23, Magnussen becomes the first one to switch to slicks, opting to take soft Pirellis, even though mild rain continued. He is followed by Vettel one lap later, when it became clear that Magnussen was beating the times of the cars using intermediates.

Verstappen followed another lap after that, closely from behind Bottas, who continued. The Red Bull driver enjoyed a tyre change in 2.0s, and opted for the medium compound slicks.

Bottas changed to mediums the next lap, and maintained the advantage to Verstappen as the latter ended up spinning during his out lap.

Norris retired from the race at the same time with a technical problem, resulting in another virtual safety car period.

That VSC saw Leclerc pit immediately, changing to soft Pirellis, and rejoing the track in second position, behind Hamilton who pitted one e lap later, and ahead of Bottas and Verstappen. Still, when Hamilton returned to the track, Leclerc left it and became stuck in the gravel trap.

This time, the safety car was brought out again. Vettel pitted on his behalf and re-fitted intermediates. Hamilton was also soon back into the pits after a mistake - in the same corner as Leclerc's - broke his front wing. He too switched back to intermediates, but while he entered the pitlane past the bollard, he was handed a 5s penalty. Bottas also pitted as soon as he passed the pitlane entry to similarly change to intermediates again.

On lap 31, still behind the safety car, this meant that Verstappen ended up in the lead, followed by Hulkenberg, Bottas, Albon, Hamilton, Sainz, Raikkonen, Vettel, Gasly, Giovinazzi, Kvyat, Magnussen, Grosjean, Russel, Kubica and Stroll.

The restart didn't bring any position changes, but the next few laps saw Bottas put the pressure on Hulkenberg, just like Hamilton attempted to get past Albon. Hamilton succeeded on lap 36, Bottas moved up into second on lap 37, by which time Hamilton was already on their tails as well. It, therefore, didn't take long for Hamilton to move up into 3rd, surprising Hulkenberg in the braking zone for the hairpin.

On lap 40, Raikkonen only just avoided hitting the barriers at the same location as Leclerc's crash, but as he cautiously got out of trouble and rejoined in 9th place, Hulkenberg went off at the same location. The German was less fortunate and got stuck in the gravel, ending his race and bringing another safety car.

Verstappen immediately pitted and took on new intermediates while maintaining the lead. Vettel pitted as well.

Behind the SC, on lap 43, Verstappen therefore still lead, ahead of Bottas, Hamilton, Albon, Sainz, Gasly, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Kvyat, Vettel, Grosjean, Magnussen, Russell, Stroll, Kubica.

The restart on lap 46 saw lots of movement in the midfield. A tight battle behind and with Hamilton saw Albon make a mistake and drop behind Gasly and Vettel.

At the very end of that lap, Verstappen, Bottas and numerous others dove into the pits. Hamilton, Raikkonen and Vettel pitted the next lap, putting Stroll in the lead of the race thanks to him changing to slicks during the SC period.

It didn't last long though as that same lap, Stroll was passed for the lead by Max Verstappen. Daniil Kvyat ended up 3rd, followed by Bottas and Sainz, while Hamilton dropped out of the points and ended up 12th only due to the timing of the pitstops.

The seemingly last chance for Hamilton to get any points dismantled when he spun off at Turn 1. He narrowly managed to avoid hitting the barriers, but his flat-spotted tyres meant he had to return to the pits for new softs.

Two laps later, it was even worse for Mercedes, as Bottas, who was third at the time, lost the rear end of his W10 through the middle of Turn 1, making for an unavoidable meeting with the tyre barriers, his retirement from the race, and another safety car.

While Hamilton pitted once again for another new set of soft slicks, Stroll moved up into third place, followed by Sainz, Vettel, Albon, Gasly, Raikkonen, Grosjean and Giovinazzi.

With 5 laps left, the race restarted, and Verstappen set off to a victory he was never going to give away anymore. Sebastian Vettel meanwhile did what seemed impossible at the start and passed Sainz, Stroll and then Kvyat to take second. Daniil Kvyat finished in third place to complete a surprising podium.

In the final laps, Gasly touched Albon in their fight for 6th and was forced to retire with tyre damage.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarLapsTimePts
133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda641:44:31.27526
25Sebastian VettelFerrari64+7.333s18
326Daniil KvyatScuderia Toro Rosso Honda64+8.305s15
418Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes64+8.966s12
555Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault64+9.583s10
623Alexander AlbonScuderia Toro Rosso Honda64+10.052s8
78Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari64+16.838s6
820Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari64+18.765s4
944Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG64+19.667s2
1088Robert KubicaWilliams Mercedes64+24.987s1
1163George RussellWilliams Mercedes64+26.404s0
127Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari64+42.214s0
1399Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari64+43.849s0
1410Pierre GaslyRed Bull Racing Honda61DNF0
NC77Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG56DNF0
NC27Nico HulkenbergRenault39DNF0
NC16Charles LeclercFerrari27DNF0
NC4Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault25DNF0
NC3Daniel RicciardoRenault13DNF0
NC11Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes1DNF0

Note - Verstappen scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Raikkonen and Giovinazzi had 30 seconds added to their race times for use of driver aids at the start.