[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] GERMAN GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Formula 1 news story about [F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] GERMAN GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Lewis Hamilton has won a chaotic rain-and-safety car affected German Grand Prix for Mercedes on home turf at Hockenheim – fighting back from 14th on the grid to take his fourth victory of the season and turnaround an 8-point drivers’ championship deficit into a 17-point lead, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel sliding into the barriers and out of his home race.

Hamilton, who took his first win from beyond sixth on the grid, and equalled Michael Schumacher’s tally of four German Grand Prix wins, won by sheer grit and determination – rising through the field from 14th on the grid with a long first stint, stopping from third to switch from the softs to the ultrasofts on lap 42. He dropped back to fifth, but took the lead after Vettel crashed out and those ahead pitted. The 4-time F1 World Champion took his 66th win overall and Mercedes Benz’s 80th, the historic marque also re-taking the lead of the constructors’ standings.

And all the time Hamilton believed he could do it.

“I did. It’s obviously very difficult from that position. Highly unlikely, but you’ve always got to believe,” said the Brit, who announced a new 2-year contract this weekend to stay with Mercedes until the end of 2020.

Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas finished runner-up for the Silver Arrows's second one-two result this season, the Finn told to hold his position in the race's closing stages. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen closed out the podium in third, his 97th time on the rostrum.

It’s now just a week until the next round in Budapest, the final one before F1's traditional summer break, with the German and Hungarian rounds back-to-back.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 67 1:32:29.845 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 67 +4.535s 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 67 +6.732s 15
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 67 +7.654s 12
5 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 67 +26.609s 10
6 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 67 +28.871s 8

Here’s how the FORMULA 1 2018 GERMAN GRAND PRIX played-out lap-by-lap:

Build Up:
There’s lots of excitement in Germany with local hero 4-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel on pole position for the 55th time in his career and his fifth this season, and he’s a strong chance for his first win in F1 at Hockenheim. His other win on home soil coming for Red Bull at the Nurburgring in 2013.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas will enjoy his fifth front row start for 2018, following on from confirmation he’ll be staying with the team next year including an option for 2020. It’ll be a fascinating drag race into the first corner, with both desperate to take control of the race - and Vettel keen to extend his 8-point lead in the drivers’ standings over Bottas’ teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Behind Vettel and Bottas is Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who will be looking to get past Bottas at the start to be able to play the role of rear gunner to his teammate. But can Raikkonen take a win in Hockenheim, should something happen to Vettel? It’s been 104 races since his last win in Australia 2013. Behind the Finn is Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, who trailed in qualifying but could be more of a challenge to those ahead in the race if it rains. And on the third row of the grid, it’s the two Haas’ of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean - the pair through to Q3 for the fourth-straight race and sixth time this year.

Beyond the top-10, we’re expecting two incredible fightback drives from reigning F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton - who starts P14 after a hydraulic leak forced him to stop during qualifying. Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, will start from the back row following grid penalties for multiple power unit component replacements. The Australian, starting from P19, has taken a a new MGU-K, control electronics and energy store to ensure he’s in contention for the win at the following round in Hungary.

Strategically, it’s looking like a surefire one-stop race - with those on ultrasofts switching to the softs around Lap 14-24. Those on the softs could stop around lap 16-26 to switch onto the mediums. But rear blistering could be a factor at Hockenheim, with track temperature 43 degrees Celsius and ambient at 26 degrees. We could also have some rain, with any switch to the wet tyres precluding any need to run two dry compounds.

Formation Lap:
The top-10 all start on ultrasofts, as per their fastest lap in Q2, with Force India’s Esteban Ocon in P15 also on the ultras. The rest of the grid are on softs, with the exception of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo - who starts on the mediums, so a long first stint for him.

Lap 1:
Vettel gets a great start, Bottas cannot pass him down to Turn 1. Raikkonen is third, with Verstappen fourth. Hulkenberg has gotten ahead of Grosjean for sixth. Verstappen is hounding Raikkonen for P3, all the way through the lap. Hamilton passes Sirotkin for P13 into Turn 13.

Lap 2:
So it’s Vettel leads Bottas by 1.3 seconds. Hamilton passes Ocon for P12 into Turn 1. His next target is Alonso. Big train behind Magnussen in P5. Raikkonen says rain on the visor.

Lap 3:
Vettel sets the fastest lap, a 1:17.942 - as DRS has been enabled. He’s 1.7 seconds ahead of Bottas. Ricciardo is in P18 behind Hartley. Hamilton passes Alonso for P11 into Turn 8.

Lap 4:
Vettel sets another fastest lap, a 1:17.909. He’s 2-seconds ahead of Bottas now, Raikkonen is another 1.6 seconds behind in P3. Hamilton is now chasing Leclerc, and he passes him into the hairpin for P10. He’s now up into the points!

Lap 5:
Another fastest lap for Vettel, a 1:17.777. He’s pulling out a gap on Bottas, 2.4 seconds the difference. Grosjean in P7 has a train of cars behind him. Hamilton in P10 is chasing Sainz ahead, half a second the gap. But he’s 17-seconds behind leader Vettel.

Lap 6:
Personal best lap for Bottas, putting him on the same level as Vettel on that last lap. The top-four in the low 1:18s. Hamilton passes Sainz for P9 at the hairpin, Perez ahead. Ricciardo is down in P15.

Lap 7:
Vettel leads Bottas by 2.8 seconds. Ricciardo struggling for grip on the mediums. Grosjean complaining he needs more traction. Perez passes Grosjean for P7 at the hairpin. Great move there!

Lap 8:
Vetel’s lead now 3.2 seconds ahead of Bottas. Raikkonen 1.3 seconds adrift in P3. Verstappen 1.9 seconds adrift in P4. Hamilton passes Grosjean for P8 into the hairpin. He’s now 22-seconds behind the leader.

Lap 9:
Vettel leads Bottas by 3.5 seconds. 6-seconds covers the top-four, but Magnussen is 11-seconds behind Verstappen in P4. Ricciardo is still in P15. Hamilton passes Perez for P7 into the hairpin. Ricciardo passes Ericsson for P14 into the hairpin as well.

Lap 10:
Vettel leads Bottas by 3.9 seconds. The German 0.4 sec faster on that last lap. Ricciardo passes Ocon for P13 into the hairpin.

Lap 11:
Vettel continuing to build a lead over Bottas, though the Finn was a tenth faster on that last lap. Hamilton in P7 is chasing down Hulkenberg, 0.5 seconds the gap there. And he passes him into the hairpin. Magnussen is ahead, 2.5 seconds up the road.

Lap 12:
Vettel leads Bottas by 3.6 seconds, the Finn now starting to respond - 0.2 faster on that last lap. Hamilton has just done a personal best lap, as he chases down Magnussen - 1.7 seconds the gap now. Ricciardo in P13 is chasing down Alonso.

Lap 13:
Vettel’s lead is slightly being eaten into, with Bottas 0.1 faster on that last lap - 3.5 seconds the gap. Hamilton’s now within a second of Magnussen, for a crack at the top-five. Sainz racing Grosjean hard.

Lap 14:
Vettel and Bottas doing 1:18.3s. Ricciardo still stuck behind Alonso in P13. Hamilton is half a second behind Magnussen, and looking to make that pass. He does so on the way into the hairpin, and is up to P5.

Lap 15:
Raikkonen pits from P3 for the softs, 3.3 sec stop - so relatively slow with issue at the right rear. This looks like a chance to undercut Bottas. The challenge to go to the end of the race on the softs. He comes out ahead of Hamilton in P4. So it’s Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen, Raikkonen and Hamilton for the top-five. Alonso goes wide at the hairpin trying to pass Leclerc for P11.

Lap 16:
Vettel leads Bottas by 3.6 seconds as the Finn does a personal best, just over 0.1 faster on that last lap.

Lap 17:
Ricciardo still down in P13, almost 3-seconds off the pace of the leaders. Raikkonen sets the fastest lap, a 1:17.581. He’s 13-seconds behind Verstappen, and 3.2 ahead of Hamilton - so pushing in clean air. Ricciardo passes Alonso for P12 at the hairpin and stays ahead in the following corners as they go wheel to wheel.

Lap 18:
Raikkonen sets another fastest lap, a 1:17.379. Hamilton has just done a personal best lap, but it was over 0.6 slower than Raikkonen ahead. The gap there now 3.9 seconds.

Lap 19:
Vettel leads Bottas by 4.7 seconds, he was 0.5 sec faster than the Finn on that last lap. Hulkenberg pits from P6 to defend against potential undercuts. Raikkonen the only driver in the 1:17s.

Lap 20:
Ricciardo in P11 is chasing down Leclerc. He passes him into Turn 8, for 10th place. He’s up into the points. Bottas is yet to pit and will come out behind Raikkonen in P5 if he pits now. He’s 4.4 seconds behind Vettel now.

Lap 21:
Vettel leads Bottas by 4.5 seconds. Verstappen is 6-seconds behind in P3, as Magnussen pits from P6. Sainz and Leclerc pit as well. Magnussen exits in P11.

Lap 22:
Magnussen passes Ocon for P10 at the hairpin. Grosjean pits. Hamilton set a personal best lap, putting himself into the 1:17s.

Lap 23:
Grosjean passes Hartley for P15 into the hairpin, Lance Stroll getting in the way - as Sainz passes Hartley. Perez pits from P6. Hulkenberg passes Ericsson and Ocon in one move at Turn 8 for P9.

Lap 24:
Vettel leads Bottas by 5.3 seconds. Then it’s Verstappen, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Ricciardo - all yet to stop except for Raikkonen. Perez has an issue at his pit stop

Lap 25:
Grosjean passes Sirotkin for P12, Perez passes Sainz, and Stroll passes Leclerc at the hairpin.

Lap 26:
Vettel pits from the lead, he’s onto the softs. Bottas into the lead, followed by Verstappen then Raikkonen who set the fastest lap, with a 1:17.286. Hamilton in P5 is 14 seconds behind the leader.

Lap 27:
Bottas leads Verstappen by 5.9 seconds, his last lap a 1:18.8 - so off the pace on ageing ultras. Leclerc passes Sirotkin for P14 at the hairpin.

Lap 28:
Bottas struggling on the ultras, he’s now in the 1:19.2s. Apparently it’s raining not far from the track.

Lap 29:
Bottas pits from the lead, he’s onto the softs - and rejoins in P5. Daniel Ricciardo is out, he’s lost power. He’s stopped between Turns 11 and 12. Is his all-new power unit going to be OK for Hungary? So it’s Verstappen, Raikkonen, Vettel, Hamilton, and Bottas.

Lap 30:
Verstappen pits from the lead, he’s onto the softs - and 3.2 second stop, exits in P5. So Raikkonen now leads this race, 1-second ahead of teammate Vettel. Both have now stopped but Vettel on fresher rubber and likely to pass for the championship.

Lap 31:
Raikkonen sets the fastest lap, but then Bottas smashes it with a 1:16.956. Vettel still behind his teammate. Hamilton is in P3, 3.3 seconds behind Vettel. Magnussen passes Alonso for P6 at the hairpin. Perez passes Ericsson for P10 there as well.

Lap 32:
Hulkenerg passes Alonso for P7 at Turn 8. Alonso’s tyres are blistered and he pits. He’s onto the softs.

Lap 33:
Raikkonen leads Vettel, 1.2 seconds the gap. Both Ferrari drivers have blistering tyres, but rain expected in 10 minutes. Then it’s Hamilton and Bottas. Verstappen in P5.

Lap 34:
Raikkonen and Vettel lap Alonso. Vettel says “this is just silly, I’m just losing time” - complaining about being behind his teammate.

Lap 35:
Top-10 is Raikkonen, Vettel, Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Perez and Sainz. Vandoorne going slowly into the hairpin, he looks like he’s got a terminal car.

Lap 36:
Vettel in P2 is within a second of Raikkonen now as the Finn laps traffic ahead. The top-seven is covered by 60-seconds. Vettel asked how much faster he can go to try and pass Raikkonen.

Lap 37:
Vandoorne is out of the race, his second retirement in 11 races. Hamilton in P3 is yet to pit. Vettel in P2 is shown locking up again, “Can’t you see the tyre temperature!” he tells his engineer suggesting he should be passing Raikkonen.

Lap 38:
Raikkonen leads Vettel by 1-second, but the pair are losing time and grip. Hamilton in P3 is 4.1 seconds behind Vettel. Will the rain arrive to spice this race up?

Lap 39:
Raikkonen told both cars need to look after tyres and on different strategies, don’t hold Vettel up. “What do you want me to do? Just tell me!” Vettel goes through into the lead.

Lap 40:
Vettel immediately does a personal best lap in the 1:17.2. Bottas told likely rain in eight minutes.

Lap 41:
Vettel leads Raikkonen by 1.9 seconds, so is swiftly pulling away. Hamilton is 3.9 seconds behind Raikkonen in P3. He’s waiting for the possibility of rain, so he doesn’t have to drop down to P5 post-stop.

Lap 42:
Vettel now 2.4 seconds ahead of Raikkonen. So it’s two Ferraris followed by two Mercedes. Will Bottas be able to pass Hamilton, given the pair are on different strategies? Hamilton told to pit.

Lap 43:
Hamilton stops for ultras, 2.9 second stop - big gamble that there won’t be any rain. He exits in P5. So Vettel leads Raikkonen by 3-secs, followed by Bottas and Verstappen.

Lap 44:
Hamilton laps Gasly into Turn 2. And we’re seeing rain. Has Mercedes pitted Hamilton too early? Leclerc pits for the intermediates, as does Alonso and Gasly.

Lap 45:
So it’s Vettel, Raikkonen, Bottas, Verstappen and Hamilton as the top-five. One part of the circuit slippery, one bone dry.

Lap 46:
So the field has been lapped up to ninth and Perez. Rain is still light, has the gamble not paid off?

Lap 47:
Verstappen pits for the intermediates! He exits in P5 behind Hamilton. Intermediates slow in middle sector. Hamilton fastest in the first sector, on the ultras.

Lap 48:
Replays show Vettel lost his front wing endplate at the final corner. Drivers very slow at hairpin. Vettel told rain decreasing. Leclerc going back onto the ultras. Gasly on full wets strangely, and he returns to the pits.

Lap 49:
Verstappen pits again from P5. He’s back onto the ultras. And retains P5 ahead of Magnussen, who is 18-seconds behind.

Lap 50:
Vettel leads Raikkonen by 6.1 seconds. Rain still going but light. Then it’s Bottas and Hamilton. The top-four is within 12-seconds, with the top-five within 65 seconds. Leclerc has gone off along the back straight, but rejoins P17.

Lap 51:
Bottas right on Raikkonen’s tail and has passed him for P2 at Turn 8, back marker traffic getting in the way.

Lap 52:
Rain making the whole track greasy. Hamilton is chasing down Raikkonen now, 1.4 seconds the gap there. As Vettel goes off the track and into the barriers at Turn 13. This is incredible! Safety car deployed. As loads of cars pit - Bottas pits but aren’t ready with ultrasofts, he’s been stopped way too long.

Lap 53:
Replays showing Vettel locking up into Turn 13, Sachs curve, and skidding across the gravel and into the barrier. We’re still under the safety car. It’s Raikkonen, Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez, Ocon, Ericsson, and Grosjean in top-10.

Lap 54:
Still under the safety car. Raikkonen pits for ultras. Hamilton now leads Bottas, with Raikkonen back into P3. Sirotkin off at the hairpin, looks like a power unit issue.

Lap 55:
Safety car still out, field is: HAM, BOT, RAI, VER, HUL, PER, OCO, ERI, GRO, SAI, MAG, HAR, STR, VAN, LEC, ALO, GAS. Lapped cars may now overtake the safety car. Stroll now pits, and will retire it seems.

Lap 56:
We’re still under the safety car. Replays show Hamilton stayed out under the safety car when he was told to pit, his engineer hesitant at the last second. Grosjean and Magnussen pit, double stacking. Hamilton tells his engineer that safety car needs to pick up the pace.

Lap 57:
We continue under the safety car, Hamilton pushing the safety car hard. Sainz pits. The safety car will come in at the end of this lap.

Lap 58:
Hamilton retains the lead, ahead of Bottas, Raikkonen stays ahead of Verstappen. Bottas taking a look at Hamilton into Turn 2. Bottas goes for a pass into the hairpin, and looks to drag him to Turn 8.

Lap 59:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:16.596. He’s out of DRS range, 1.5 seconds ahead of Bottas. Sainz under investigation for overtaking under the safety car. Has the order been given at Mercedes?

Lap 60:
DRS enabled. Hamilton sets another fastest lap, a 1:15.745. He was almost a second faster than Bottas on that last lap.

Lap 61:
Hamilton leads Bottas by 2.4 seconds. Raikkonen is in P3, 1.2 seconds behind his countryman. Mercedes has told Bottas to hold position.

Lap 62:
Hamilton extending his lead up front, 2.7 seconds the gap to Bottas. Ericsson in P8 is chasing Ocon, 0.6 sec the gap. Sainz given a 10-second penalty for overtaking under the safety car.

Lap 63:
Hamilton now has a comfortable lead, 3.8 seconds ahead of Bottas. Ericsson is chasing down Ocon for P7.

Lap 64:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:15.708. Ocon in P7 is trailed by a train of cars down to Sainz in 10th. Grosjean passes Ericsson for P8. Replays showing Bottas going wide at Turn 8.

Lap 65:
Grosjean in P8 is challenging Ocon ahead. Bottas told rain will be heavier from Turns 2-6.

Lap 66:
Hamilton told chance of rain on last lap. He’s 4-seconds ahead of his teammate Bottas.

Lap 67 - FINAL LAP:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:15.545. And wins the German Grand Prix, equalling Michael Schumacher’s record number of wins in Germany It’s the 80th win for Mercedes, and the 100th points finish for the marque.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 67 1:32:29.845 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 67 +4.535s 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 67 +6.732s 15
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 67 +7.654s 12
5 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 67 +26.609s 10
6 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 67 +28.871s 8
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 67 +30.556s 6
8 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 67 +31.750s 4
9 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 67 +32.362s 2
10 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 67 +34.197s 1
11 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 67 +34.919s 0
12 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 67 +43.069s 0
13 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 67 +46.617s 0
14 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 66 +1 lap 0
15 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 66 +1 lap 0
16 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 65 DNF 0
NC 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 53 DNF 0
NC 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 51 DNF 0
NC 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 51 DNF 0
NC 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 27 DNF 0