- Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was able to claim a memorable victory after a race in which all the ‘usual suspects’ when it comes to the likely race winners, including Verstappen himself, encountered trouble at one time or the other.
Germans are known to be immensely precise and efficient. You would therefore think that a German race circuit would lean towards the same attributes but if it’s Hockenheim, the opposite rings true.
The magnitude of the frenetic race that took place at the historic circuit on Sunday is difficult to quantify. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was able to claim a memorable victory after a race in which all the ‘usual suspects’ when it comes to the likely race winners, including Verstappen himself, encountered trouble at one time or the other.
For instance, both Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton did 360-degree turns and fortunately kept themselves on the track during the course of the race which saw plenty of action happen in the pits.
The 64-lap race saw Verstappen and his teammate, Pierre Gasly, make horrendous starts. Mercedes’ Valterri Bottas started well in third and was second within seconds, but then went off the track in Turn One, a clear harbinger of what lay ahead.
Verstappen had fallen to fourth but in the second lap, he made light work of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who started last due to a mechanical issue in qualifying, was up to 13th before the end of the second lap.
SportPesa Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, who started eighth, was the first casualty of the race spinning and damaging his car in the process through contact with a barrier. This brought out the Safety Car for what would be a busy day for its driver.
The same would apply for the pit crews who were kept busy as a number of drivers went in for fresh wets, with Vettel and Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon being the only ones to ‘wear’ the intermediates.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who had started tenth, exited the pits with much gusto and in the process, got into the way of the Haas of Romain Grosjean. The infringement led to a team penalty for Ferrari.By the seventh lap, Vettel had risen up to eighth position.
In contrast, Gasly had dropped to 17th from his fourth place start. Kevin Magnussen, in the Haas, had failed to pit in the safety car period and had gone up to second position but this strategy backfired spectacularly when he had to pit in race conditions which left him worse off than before. Leclerc had his first close call with crashing but managed to prevent a spin after almost going out wide.
Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault couldn’t handle the wet-dry conditions anymore and the power unit gave way on the fifteenth lap leading to the deployment of a Virtual Safety Car and more pit stops. On the seventeenth lap, Verstappen made an attempt to pass Bottas by using the inside of a turn but the conditions were so treacherous that he lost his rear in the process. Two laps later, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was able to recover after almost beaching his car at Turn 16.