We take a look at the winners and losers of the German GP. It turned out to be a dramatic Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton starting from 14th on the grid and winning the race. Sebastian Vettel, on the other hand, ended up in the barriers and threw away what seemed like a certain victory.
German GP – Winners
After the disastrous qualification session on Saturday, Hamilton started 14th on the grid. Title-rival Vettel was in pole position in a car that had set the pace on Saturday. The Briton was staring at conceding a large lead to Vettel. He started the race eight-points behind him in the title race.
Vettel had won the British GP on Hamilton’s home turf in the previous race. It looked like damage limitation at best or a disaster at worst for Hamilton. Hamilton carved his way through the field and by lap 14 had moved upto P5. An impressive first stint on soft tyres that lasted 42 laps was followed by a stint on new ultrasoft tyres.
As the rain came down on parts of the track, the “rain master” showed his skills with impressive lap times. Race-leader Vettel had a shunt and the Safety Car came out on lap 52. As confusion reigned supreme on the Mercedes pitwall, Hamilton stayed out. Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen pitted. Hamilton was now in the lead and held on for a famous win.
The cutting of the pitlane entry line was investigated by the FIA and a reprimand was given. Hamilton escaped penalties and retained a famous win.
Hamilton after turning disaster to triumph said:“It’s great to be here on Mercedes home ground – our second home. To get the one-two for Mercedes, particularly after they just re-signed us and confirmed their confidence in us, is a tremendous day for us. I don’t remember, actually I have ever had a race like this. After racing for so many years, you never know when you’re going to have another brilliant race. It’s difficult to ever think you’re going to have a better race than your best. I think this is now up there with them.”
Hulkenberg finished as the most successful German driver at the German GP 2018. Hulkenberg has been going quietly about his business this season. Consistent performances have seen him make eight point scoring finishes in 11 races. The German is in seventh position in the drivers’ championship and “best of the rest” behind the Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull Racing drivers.
Hulkenberg started P7 and finished P5 in the race. His best result for the season and in his stint at Renault. The German clinched his only pole position in the rain at the Brazilian GP in 2010. He is known to excel in wet conditions and he put his skills to good use here. Hulkenberg has outscored his young teammate Carlos Sainz 52-28 points. As the Renault car improves, his season will keep getting better and that elusive podium might materialize after all.
This was a redemptive drive for Grosjean. A series of mistakes has setback his season. He has been outperformed by his teammate Kevin Magnussen (39-20 pts). Haas F1 Team Principal, Guenther Steiner, before the race said he did not want his drivers to do anything stupid.
The Frenchman went eight races without a point in a Haas car rated as the fourth fastest on the grid. A fourth-place finish in Austria opened his account.
He qualified sixth behind his teammate Magnussen at Hockenheim. Grosjean lost places at the start. An unnecessary pitstop for intermediate tyres forced him to pit again and dropped him down the grid. But an impressive last stint on new ultrasoft tyres saw him overtaking drivers and clinching P6. On a day when Magnussen was off-colour, Grosjean delivered for his team. He needs to stay away from mistakes and score points consistently to keep his drive.
The luckiest 1-2 finish for this dominant team in the hybrid-engine era. The team was licking its wounds after a defeat to rival Ferrari at Silverstone, a favourite hunting ground for the Silver Arrows. The Ferrari engine has outperformed the Mercedes engine in recent races.
Vettel was on pole with Bottas beside him. But Hamilton was starting 14th on the grid. Ferrari seemed to have the edge in race pace and straight-line speed. The Maranello-based team was leading in the constructors’ championship. It was a grim picture for Mercedes to start with.
But Vettel’s mistake and the rain showers turned the race upside down. Mercedes ended up with a 1-2 finish at their home race. The team has an eight-point lead now over Ferrari in the constructors’ championship for good measure. Mercedes bosses went home happy.
After a series of mistakes in recent races and another near mishap with the “stay out,in,in,in,in,in,in………” instruction to Hamilton, this result was much needed.
The team made a very slow start to the season. But they have been slowly clawing their way back. Beset by rumours of financial troubles and potential new owners, they have gone about business in characteristic fashion. With a third consecutive double point finish, Force India is fifth in the constructors’ championship with 59 points.
Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon qualified P10 and P16 respectively. Early in the race they tripped over each other and let Hulkenberg sail past them. But the team did not pit for intermediate tyres when the rain came. Both drivers delivered in tricky conditions. Perez survived a spin in the wet dirt and finished P7. Ocon was right behind him in eighth position after a poor qualification. Yet again the drivers and team delivered in difficult circumstances.
German GP – Losers
An eye-catching win at rival Hamilton’s home race in Silverstone saw Vettel arrive at Hockenheim in buoyant mood. The German had grown up in close proximity to the track, but never won here. A win at his home race in front of adoring fans would have delivered a decisive blow to Hamilton in the title fight.
Instead, Vettel managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. A small error in mixed conditions saw him hit the barriers at turn 13, with just 15 laps to go. As he banged his steering wheel in frustration, his rival was making the moves to script a miraculous victory.
Vettel entered the race with an eight-point lead in the drivers’ championship. If he had won the race and Hamilton could have at best finished fourth, Vettel would have gone to Hungary with a 21-point lead. Instead, he left his home Grand Prix with a 17-point deficit to Hamilton. That is a massive point swing in points towards Hamilton. The memories of the implosion of Vettel and Ferrari starting with the Singapore GP in 2017 resurfaced. Vettel needs an error-free run going forward to win that fifth world championship.
Another frustrating race for the ever-smiling Australian. The famous win at the Monaco GP and the talk about an outside chance of a title run seems a long time ago. Since then Ricciardo has suffered 2 DNFs in five races. He has dropped to fifth in the drivers’ championship, just one point ahead of teammate Max Verstappen.
Ricciardo started 19th on the grid after grid penalties for new Power Unit elements that exceeded the allowed quota for the season. Some trademark overtakes followed. But it did not last long with engine problems forcing him to retire from the race.
This was Ricciardo’s fourth DNF of the season. The Australian is out of contract at the end of 2018. As both Mercedes drivers re-signed before this race, his options have narrowed down. Re-signing with Red Bull seems the best option available now.
The young 20-year old driver has become the talk of the paddock with his impressive performances this season. With rumours swirling about a promotion to Ferrari to replace Raikkonen in 2019, he came into this race with huge expectations. The Monegasque driver had scored points in three races in a row for Sauber. He has consistently made it to Q3 in recent races.
Leclerc qualified P9. But scrappy opening laps saw him drop out of the points. The wrong call from the team to pit for intermediate tyres and a 360-degree spin ended all hopes of scoring points. Teammate Marcus Ericsson finished ninth to further rub salt into the wounds. A blip in the Leclerc fairy tale story of 2018 for sure.
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The Woking-based team had another poor race. Fernando Alonso did not finish the race. Stoffel Vandoorne finished P13. This is the fourth non-scoring race in 11 races for the team. McLaren has dropped to seventh in the constructors’ championship, behind midfield rivals Renault, Force India and Hass F1.
A disgruntled and exasperated Alonso was heard arguing with the pitwall about the call to pit for intermediate tyres. It was the wrong call which dropped him out of contention. As other teams develop and move forward, McLaren seems to have hit reverse gear.
The Grove-based team is dead last in the constructors’ championship. The woes continued with a double retirement at Hockenheim. Lance Stroll’s eighth-place finish in Baku is the only points scored by the team this season. Sergey Sirotkin has yet to open his account in his rookie season.
Sirotkin sniffed an opportunity to sneak a point as the race turned chaotic in the mixed conditions. But an oil leak ended his race. Stroll had a brake issue and both cars retired from the race. The troubles continue for the team, even as rival teams keep improving.
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