Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] literally plucked a victory from the jaws of defeat as the Brit won the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim from fourteenth on the grid. Sebastian Vettel, having led in his Ferrari for the bulk of the race, crashed out having set a new track record on his very last lap of qualifying, nicking pole from the Mercedes of Valterri Bottas as the chequered flag fell.
Hamilton looked distraught as his Mercedes suffered a hydraulic failure in Q1, forcing him out of the session, and leaving him to start in fourteenth position. Meanwhile Bottas thought he’d done enough to claim pole, crossing the line as the chequered flag flew with the fastest time of all, only moments later to be pipped by Vettel’s Ferrari. Raikkonen [Ferrari] claimed third, while Verstappen’s Red Bull was fourth, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean bring the Haas cars home in a brilliant fifth and sixth places.
It was Vettel who led from pole, comfortably stretching his lead as the race developed, Bottas dropping in behind as Raikkonen followed suit. Hamilton behind was already picking up places. Lap twenty-nine saw Daniel Ricciardo retire his Red Bull from sixth place.
The first round of pit stops saw Raikkonen lead Vettel, while the latter complained of tyre wear issues following the Finn, Ferrari made an order that led to Vettel passing Kimi for the lead of the race.
Lap forty-three saw rain arrive, but not enough for full wets, as Hamilton pitted for super-soft tyres, and now sat in fourth place.
Bottas claimed second place from Raikkonen on lap fifty-one, and just a lap later, leading comfortably, Sebastian Vettel slid out of the lead and in to the gravel, leading to a flurry of pitstops as the safety car deployed.
Confusion in the Mercedes garage saw Hamilton, now in second, abandon his plan to pit, crossing the grass at the pit entrance to re-join the track. Something he would later be reprimanded for by the stewards.
After Raikkonen made his stop, it left Hamilton in the lead with nine laps to go.
At the restart, Bottas put pressure on his reammate, running wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton for most of one lap. Something the Mercedes team put a stop to, asking Bottas to ‘hold position’.
And that’s how it ended, Hamilton having climbed thirteen places to win the German Grand Prix, the two Finns, Bottas and Raikkonen, rounding out the podium, Max Verstappen finished fourth, while the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg took fifth. Romain Grosjean claiming a brilliant sixth for Haas, after he made up four places in the last ten laps of the race.
“I don’t shy away from adversity” declared Lewis, “of course it would be nice if you can start at the front and pull away. When I stood next to the car [yesterday] I thought maybe this is a chance to do something great.
“It’s not always easy, but I was inspired by a lot of people in the grandstands today”.
Speaking about his incident at his pit entrance incident, Lewis remarked; “It was so close, kind of scary going over the grass. They had a whole panic but I was sure when I got back on track that it would be the right thing”.
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
2. Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
3. Kimi Raikkonen FIN Scuderia Ferrari
4. Max Verstappen NED Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
5. Nico Hulkenberg GER Renault Sport Formula One Team
6. Romain Grosjean FRA Haas F1 Team
7. Sergio Perez MEX Sahara Force India F1 Team
8. Esteban Ocon FRA Sahara Force India F1 Team
9. Marcus Ericsson SWE Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team
10. Brendon Hartley NZL Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda