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Max Verstappen wins rain-soaked German Grand Prix

29 Juillet 2019 - Autoblog

Max Verstappen wins rain-soaked German Grand Prix

Vettel earns second place as both Mercedes drivers struggle

Max Verstappen won a chaotic and rain-soaked German Grand Prix on Sunday as championship leader Lewis Hamilton finished 11th and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas crashed near the end.

Verstappen kept his composure on a treacherous track to clinch his second victory this season and seventh of his Red Bull career, topping a surprise podium ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel — who started from last — and Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat.

"It was amazing to win, it was really tricky out there, you had to be focused," Verstappen said. "It was about trying to not make too many mistakes. You learn over the years. I'm very happy with the result."

Following this week's crushing heatwave, wet weather caused Hockenheimring havoc as drivers took up to six pit stops for new tires and several crashed at the same spot where a section of tarmac was notoriously slippery.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was in contention for a podium, despite starting from 10th, but crashed after switching for quicker tires and slid off the track, over the gravel and into the barriers.

Remarkably, Hamilton had the same mishap moments later, mangling his front wing after losing control at the same corner. He came in for a new wing and tires, but it took Mercedes by surprise and a painfully long stop cost him any chance of victory.

For Vettel it was a remarkable turnaround, and almost the opposite to last year — when he crashed near the end after leading the race from pole position and Hamilton won, having qualified only 14th.

"It was a lot of fun, it was very tough to read what the smartest move was in the conditions," Vettel said. "I stayed tidy in the whole race. Congratulations to Max, he was superb."

The red-clothed Ferrari mechanics and engineers mobbed the four-time F1 champion, doubtless relieved after the team's botched qualifying on Saturday. Vettel could not even get out on track to set a time and Leclerc's qualifying bid was undone late in the session, forcing him to start 10th.

For Kvyat it was a third career podium but, above all, a point proved.

The 25-year-old Russian driver was ruthlessly replaced at Red Bull by Verstappen after just four races of the 2016 season, and could not even get a seat in F1 last year.

"Amazing to be back on the podium," Kvyat said. "The race was crazy. Incredible roller-coaster, like my whole career."

The track was drenched by the time the race started.

For safety reasons, a safety car was deployed.

Verstappen and Hamilton both expressed frustration over their team radios as drivers were stuck doing formation laps for several minutes before the safety car finally rolled away and the race started.

"Let's go," Hamilton said, while Verstappen added "I don't understand why we're not racing."

When they did get underway Verstappen stalled his car, dropping from pole position to fourth as Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Bottas overtook him.

Just two laps into the race, the safety car came out — the first of several times — when Sergio Perez slid off the track and clipped a wall.

It was to be a familiar sight as 7 of 20 drivers failed to finish the race — Pierre Gasly (Red Bull), Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo (both Renault) and McLaren's Lando Norris being the others.

Late on in the race, an exasperated Hamilton complained to his team over race radio as he lagged in 14th spot.

"How's it got this bad?" said Hamilton, who made a remarkable total of six pit stops.

It was the only statistic on which he led.

Although the five-time F1 champion gained a couple of places back, he almost did not finish the race at all, somehow retaining control of his Mercedes after spinning at full speed with 10 laps left.

Still, it made no difference to his overall lead as he remains 39 points ahead of second-place Bottas, who is now only 22 points clear of third-place Verstappen.

Bottas will hardly have done himself any favors as he bids to earn a new contract with Mercedes for next year.

Chasing the unheralded Lance Stroll, in a far slower Racing Point car, Bottas could not get past and went zooming off track.

Vettel showed him how to overtake, getting past Stroll and then Kvyat in the blink of an eye to seal a remarkable podium finish in one of the most extraordinary F1 races in years.

Since Hamilton's uneventful win from pole at the French GP last month, F1 fans have been treated to three excellent races: Austria, Britain and now here.

But in terms of unpredictability and sheer glued-to-the screen drama, this was the best.

Touted as the future star of F1 when becoming the youngest driver to win an F1 race at the age of 18 — at the Spanish GP in May 2016 and on his Red Bull debut, no less — Verstappen did much to make this a race to remember.

Verstappen has added maturity to his astonishing speed and brazen audacity. To cap off his day, he picked up an extra point for the fastest lap.

After Perez's crash, the race re-started on lap 5, with Hamilton leading Bottas, Verstappen and Leclerc.

The safety car flag appeared again — on Lap 15 of 64 — because Ricciardo's car stalled. Then, after yet another safety car delay, drivers started taking risks to gain an edge.

Leclerc changed his tires for the third time — moving onto the quicker slicks with Hamilton doing likewise.

Within seconds Leclerc's race was over.

"Noooo!" Leclerc screamed as he realized his race was over, shaking his head furiously as his bid for a fifth straight podium ended.

FORMULA 1 MERCEDES-BENZ GROSSER PREIS VON DEUTSCHLAND 2019 - RACE RESULT

26-28 Jul 2019 Hockenheimring, Hockenheim

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 HamiltonMERCEDES64+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 BottasMERCEDES56DNF0
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.

2019 Driver Standings

1Lewis HamiltonGBRMERCEDES225
2Valtteri BottasFINMERCEDES184
3Max VerstappenNEDRED BULL RACING HONDA162
4Sebastian VettelGERFERRARI141
5Charles LeclercMONFERRARI120
6Pierre GaslyFRARED BULL RACING HONDA55
7Carlos SainzESPMCLAREN RENAULT48
8Daniil KvyatRUSSCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA27
9Kimi RäikkönenFINALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI25
10Lando NorrisGBRMCLAREN RENAULT22
11Daniel RicciardoAUSRENAULT22
12Lance StrollCANRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES18
13Kevin MagnussenDENHAAS FERRARI18
14Nico HulkenbergGERRENAULT17
15Alexander AlbonTHASCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA15
16Sergio PerezMEXRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES13
17Romain GrosjeanFRAHAAS FERRARI8
18Antonio GiovinazziITAALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1
19Robert KubicaPOLWILLIAMS MERCEDES1
20George RussellGBRWILLIAMS MERCEDES0

2019 Constructor Standings

1MERCEDES409
2FERRARI261
3RED BULL RACING HONDA217
4MCLAREN RENAULT70
5SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA42
6RENAULT39
7RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES31
8HAAS FERRARI26
9ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI26
10WILLIAMS MERCEDES1

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