Lewis Hamilton kept his nose clean in a race of attrition to match Michael Schumacher’s race total race wins at the Nurburgring. Max Verstappen collected 2nd ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who took Renault’s first podium as a constructor since 2012.
Bottas did not get a great start and Hamilton pulled up alongside. Both cars completely missed the apex of turn 1 and ran wide. Bottas kept his nose in and managed to steal the place back through the awkward turn 2. By the end of lap 1, Bottas had managed to break DRS territory. Leclerc and Verstappen remained in their starting positions of 3rd and 4th while Albon lost 5th place to Daniel Ricciardo. Toward the back of the track, numerous cars avoided crashes, most notably Raikkonen, who was starting his 323rd race.
Ricciardo and Leclerc started a very entertaining battle for 4th. Leclerc was defending well but locked up into turn 1. Supreme side-by-side driving saw Leclerc keep his position, but Ricciardo sensed a weakness. This battle would continue until lap 9, when the Australian performed a stunning overtake around the outside of turn 2.
Albon pitted first on lap 8, before Leclerc on lap 11. during this stop, Vettel spun on entry to turn 1. The German somehow lost the rear and was lucky not to collect Raikkkonen at the end of the straight.
Bottas Blows It
Bottas lost the lead on lap 13 after a huge lock up into turn 1. The Finn immediately had to pit with a huge flat spot. During this stop, the yellow flags were brought out in sector 1. Raikkonen had over corrected through turn 1 and cannoned into the side of Russell. This caused an immediate puncture and ended the race for the Briton. Raikkonen would eventually collect a 10 second penalty for this incident.
The VSC was called out to collect the Williams on lap 16, benefitting Hamilton and Verstappen who hadn’t stopped. Just behind, Albon and Kvyat had a very bizarre accident as Albon came across, taking off the front wing of the Alpha Tauri. This would earn the Red Bull driver a 5 second penalty. However, this was inconsequential as he retired on lap 25.
On lap 18, Bottas recorded an issue with his car and started to limp around the track. Despite scoring pole, the Finn’s race was rapidly unravelling. Ocon was next to retire after a problem developed in his Renault on lap 23.
Next up, Norris had issues with his McLaren causing Perez to close up for the battle for 3rd. The Mexican pitted before an on track battle was able to take place. Norris reported more issues with power, but still managed to come out in front of Perez after his stop. However, Perez breezed past on lap 32.
The race settled down over the next few laps as the drivers started to focus on strategy. Tyre degradation was a relative unknown on this track due to the lack of Friday running. The Ferraris came awfully close to colliding as Leclerc made a successful lunge for P7. Vettel would start to fall backwards, eventually finishing out of the points.
Norris ground to a halt on lap 44 after dropping down the grid and this brought out the full safety car, throwing everyone’s strategies into disarray. All cars stopped for fresh rubber and Ricciardo managed to maintain P3, just behind Verstappen and Hamilton.
Verstappen and Hamilton were starting to complain as their tyres were rapidly losing temperature. As others caught the queue, they were able to keep the temperature in their tyres, possibly providing a benefit at the safety car restart.
Hamilton bought the track to almost a standstill as the safety car went in. The Mercedes managed to creep away while Ricciardo challenged for 2nd. Verstappen kept the place and was able to keep in touch with Hamilton. Just behind, Perez started to battle with Ricciardo for the last podium place.
Verstappen was not able to close up to Hamilton, meaning the Briton took his 91st F1 victory, matching the record set by Michael Schumacher in 2006. Ricciardo was able to keep a gap to Perez and took a brilliant 3rd place. Sainz and Gasly quietly finished 5th and 6th ahead of a strong performance from Leclerc. Hulkenberg collected driver of the day en route to a fantastic 8th place. Grosjean and Giovinazzi collected the final points paying positions.
Full race results:
- Verstappen +4.4
- Ricciardo +14.6
- Perez +16.0
- Sainz +21.9
- Gasly +22.7
- Leclerc +30.8
- Hulkenberg +32.5
- Grosjean +39.0
- Giovinazzi +40.0
- Vettel +41.0
- Raikkonen 41.4
- Magnussen +49.5
- Latifi +54.4
- Kvyat +55.5
- Norris RET
- Albon RET
- Ocon RET
- Bottas RET
- Russell RET
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