An extraordinary German Grand Prix delivered action in spades and another change in the lead of the Formula 1 World Championship standings.

Pole-sitter and crowd favourite Sebastian Vettel was seemingly in control of proceedings at the front of the field ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Räikkönen, while Lewis Hamilton gave chase in his Mercedes after starting from fourteenth on the grid. The Englishman had carved his way inside the top six by Lap 11.

Hoping that the forecasted rain showers would coincide with his need to make his compulsory pit stop, Hamilton drove a long opening stint but eventually had to peel into the pits and his rubber finally gave out. He rejoined in third place, behind the two Ferraris, but now Räikkönen was in front of Vettel after the Finn made his ‘undercut’ strategy pay dividends to leapfrog his teammate.

That would come at the expense of his tyres in his second stint, and with Vettel zeroing up to the back of the Finn on tyres that were 10 laps newer it was no surprise to see Räikkönen get the telephone call from the pit wall instructing him to move aside.

That put Vettel back in the lead and he looked on course to extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship.

On Lap 44, the rain came down, but it only hit half the circuit. As the field grappled with whether to switch to intermediate tyres – with those doing so quickly realising their error – Vettel stayed out until he had a wobble approaching the Sachskurve, slid across the gravel and into the wall. He’d thrown away 25 vital championship points and the lead of the Drivers’ Championship standings.

Sebastian Vettel storms away from his Ferrari after crashing out of the lead of the race on Lap 52.

The Safety Car was called, offering the field a free pit stop. Dithering by Mercedes ultimately saw Hamilton kept out on track while Bottas – who had slipped past Räikkönen trying to lap the wayward Kevin Magnussen – was called into the pits.

That gave Hamilton track position at the front of the field. Hopes of a grandstand battle to the finish line between the Mercedes drivers were thwarted when more team orders came through, instructing Bottas to hold station in second place after he briefly challenged Hamilton at the restart. A disbelieving Hamilton took the victory and reclaimed the lead of the Drivers’ Championship standings, a result few would have considered possible on Saturday evening.

Räikkönen would finish third ahead of Max Verstappen, who had a fairly quiet race en route to fourth. His Red Bull Racing teammate Daniel Ricciardo – starting from the back of the grid after swapping a number of power unit elements – struggled to emulate Hamilton’s early-lap overtaking and retired just past one-third distance with a sudden loss of power.

Nico Hülkenberg claimed his and Renault’s best finish of the year in fifth place, crossing the line ahead of a charging Romain Grosjean who hustled his Haas from outside the points to sixth place over the final laps of the race with a succession of brave overtaking moves.

The two Force Indias of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon recovered from the team’s poor showing in qualifying to finish seventh and eighth respectively, giving the Silverstone more valuable points to boost its slim hopes of defending its mantle as the top midfield team.

Marcus Ericsson drove a bullish race to ninth place, his second points’ finish in three Grands Prix, although in truth he was well and truly shaded by Sauber teammate Charles Leclerc all race until the Monégasque driver was erroneously called into the pits for Intermediate tyres during the rain shower.

The final point – doubling his career points’ tally – was Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley.


FORMULA 1 EMIRATES GROSSER PREIS VON DEUTSCHLAND 2018 – FINAL CLASSIFICATION (67 LAPS)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 67 1:32:29.845
2. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 67 + 4.535
3. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 67 + 6.732
4. Max Verstappen nl Aston Martin Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB14 67 + 7.654
5. Nico Hülkenberg de Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 67 + 26.609
6. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 67 + 28.871
7. Sergio Pérez Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 67 + 30.556
8. Esteban Ocon fr Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 67 + 31.750
9. Marcus Ericsson se Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 67 + 32.362
10. Brendon Hartley nz Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 67 + 34.197
11. Kevin Magnussen dk Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 67 + 34.919
12. Carlos Sainz Jr es Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 67 + 43.069
13. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 67 + 46.617
14. Pierre Gasly fr Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 66 1 lap behind
15. Charles Leclerc mc Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 66 1 lap behind
16. Fernando Alonso es McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 65 Gearbox
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps
DNF. Lance Stroll ca Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 53 Brakes
DNF. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 51 Accident
DNF. Sergey Sirotkin ru Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 51 Oil leak
DNF. Daniel Ricciardo au Aston Martin Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB14 27 Power loss
Fastest Lap Team / Entry Lap Time
Lewis Hamilton fi Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 66 1:15.545

Post-Race Penalties:

  • Carlos Sainz Jr – who was provisionally classified 10th – was issued a 10-second post-race time penalty for overtaking under Safety Car conditions.

Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team and Sutton Images

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.
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