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Hamilton takes Hockenheim win as Vettel blows it


Whether we wanted it or not, in the last couple of weeks a new - or rather old - element has been introduced to Formula One... needle.

By that, we don't mean the Sound of Music version - as in 'needle pulling thread' - rather the slang version which means to "provoke or annoy by continual criticism or questioning".

It began with Lewis Hamilton's comments post-Britain regarding Ferrari's "interesting tactics" - by which he meant Ferraris drivers deliberately crashing into him and his teammate, a claim subsequently supported by team boss Toto Wolff and technical boss James Allison.

Then came Hamilton's questioning of Vettel and Ferrari's Silverstone celebrations, the Briton suggesting that the German, driving for an Italian team, celebrating a win on his 'home soil' was worrying and showed weakness.

Now, after four years of almost total domination, Wolff is questioning the recent improvement from Ferrari and its customer teams.

Ignoring the fact that all reigns come to an end eventually - just ask Ferrari, or McLaren or Williams... the fact is that this new accusatory atmosphere is just what the sport needed.

Thanks to the media - especially a British media still in mourning for the fact that "it isn't coming home" - we now have a world championship that is taking on a pantomime appearance, in the sense of a goodie and a baddie... someone to cheer for and someone to boo and hiss at.

And, in the eyes of the British media, who better as a 'villain' than a German driving an Italian car... the fact that Hamilton is at the wheel of a Silver Arrow quickly forgotten, after all it is built in Brackley.

Much like Nigel Mansell, Hamilton is now playing up to that element in the media, and thereby the public, witness the Mansell-like effort in pushing the car yesterday following its hydraulics failure, followed by the sight of him kneeling beside the car and subsequently (mis)quoting Nelson Mandela.

Seriously, all that's needed now is for Seb to grow a Dick Dastardly (Guenther Steiner) moustache and start wearing all-black overalls.

While Vettel must go into today's race as favourite, especially with his main title rival starting from the seventh row, imagine the media hysteria should Hamilton fight his way through the field to take victory... on German soil... no doubt they'd ditch God save the Queen for the podium ceremony in favour of the theme from The Dambusters.

But let's not rule out Valtteri Bottas or indeed Kimi Raikkonen, both of whom would dearly love to head into the summer break with a win under their belts.

That said, both Ferrari drivers will have to be on their very, very best behaviour, for even a hint of an incident in Turn 1 involving a Mercedes would see tomorrow's headlines created before the first lap had been completed.

And in an age of increasing (Mercedes) paranoia that must go for the Ferrari customer teams also.

Hamilton's heroics can surely only be matched by Ricciardo's revels this afternoon, the Australian unashamedly relishing the prospect of carving his way through the field... and here at the track where he performed his first 'shoey'.

While Ricciardo will be doing his thing, so too will Max Verstappen, who, despite the fact that it was widely thought Red Bull would struggle here, has the chance to totally upset the formbook.

Of course, both Ricciardo and Hamilton will need to spend part of their afternoon in that cauldron that is the midfield, as the battle between Haas, Renault, Force India and Charles Leclerc continues.

And if the Ferrari boys are on notice, that goes double for the Haas duo, and in particular Romain Grosjean, the American outfit still smarting from the missed opportunity that was Silverstone.

Throw in a Fernando Alonso who at times appears to think he's still at the wheel of a championship winning car and therefore entitled to dice with anyone and everyone, not to mention some very frustrated Williams and Toro Rosso drivers and we could be in for some fun and games.

And talking of fun and games, we have, thus far, omitted to mention the weather.

While the predicted 'scattered storms' are still forecast to hit Hockenheim, it currently appears that they will reach the track an hour or so after the race. However, with Ferrari now said to be taking increasingly desperate measure to retain its title leads, it cannot be long before the Italian outfit is accused of employing a couple of Tempestarii among its ranks.

However, rain or no rain, the temperature could also play a part, though even Vettel has witnessed blistering to his rears over the course of the weekend.

Sadly, if it is dry we are in for another one-stopper, which means that, barring a safety car or two later in the day - what we get at the end of lap one is effectively what we'll get at the end of lap 67.

The pitlane opens and as the drivers head to the grid the sun is shining and the sky is blue albeit peppered with some ominously large clouds. Indeed, McLaren reports that "rain has been reported in a nearby town".

As the field prepares to head off on the warm-up lap, the air temperature is 26 degrees C, while the track temperature is 44 degrees. Race control advises that there is a 60% chance of rain.

All are starting on ultras bar Alonso, Sirotkin, Ericsson, Hamilton, Hartley, Stroll, Vandoorne and Gasly who start on softs, while Ricciardo has opted for mediums.

The field heads off on the warm-up lap, all getting away with no issues.

Sainz is warned that showers are developing but it is unclear when they will hit. Hmm, Ferrari's tempestarii have been busy.

They're away

Bottas makes a strong start but Vettel has him covered. As they head into T1 Vettel leads the Finn as Raikkonen and Verstappen are side-by-side. Grosjean makes full use of the large expanse of run-off.

Into T2 there's a big lock-up for Hulkenberg, as the pack manically scrap for position.

The jostling continues on the run to the hairpin, the cars almost five abreast. Another lock-up, this time further back down the field, it's Ocon.

At the end of lap one, it's: Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Perez, Sainz and Leclerc. Hamilton is up to 12th and Ricciardo 19th.

Replay shows Grosjean having a slow start and almost being swallowed up by the Renault pair, with Leclerc keeping a watching eye.

Verstappen is all over Raikkonen, the Finn needing to all his experience to keep the Red Bull at bay.

"There's some rain on my visor," warns Raikkonen.

Hamilton closes on Alonso as Vettel builds a 1.8s lead.

Alonso almost allows Hamilton through, then again the Spaniard is aware that the Mercedes is out of position and would be wrong to hold him up.

Leclerc isn't quite so obliging, Hamilton needing to use DRS and late braking to pass the Sauber for tenth.

Hamilton is told of "very light rain at turn 6", while Hulkenberg is warned that his "left-rear is in the danger zone".

As Vettel builds a 2.6s comfort cushion, Hamilton picks off Sainz at the hairpin. Next up is Perez.

On those mediums, Ricciardo reports low grip as he passes Sirotkin fir 15th.

Grosjean reports that he has some angry looking blisters. Moments later the Haas driver runs wide after locking-up, as if to prove the point, allowing Perez to pass him for seventh.

Using some choice Anglo-Saxon, Grosjean claims Perez put him on the f****** grass.

Hamilton makes short work of the struggling Grosjean, as Verstappen drops to 2s behind Raikkonen who is now closing on Bottas.

Ricciardo passes Ericsson for 14th as Hamilton passes Perez for 7th.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Hockenheim, here.


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1. Posted by Robert, 23/07/2018 19:40 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 23/07/2018 19:48)

"People never ever admits to Hamilton's extraordinary driving and racing skills, both in the dry or wet conditions! Yes, Lewis Hamilton is an Incredible racing talent and his record speaks for itself!

People should note that Bottas on new untras tried and failed to pass Lewis on his old worn ultras after the safety car period, and I doubt that he could have even if Mercedes did not give the 'hold station' instructions for safety reasons and to ensure a 1, 2 first in Germany!

Also, Verstappen was hailed as the new 'rain-master' because of Brazil 2016 but he was nowhere in Germany and definitely no match when he is up against a truly inspired Lewis Hamilton!!!"

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2. Posted by Spindoctor, 23/07/2018 12:09 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 23/07/2018 19:48)

"@Karim & Testarossa
Like it or loathe it its a "team game" these days. The situations were different anyway. Bottas was in a position to "attack" Hamilton, and although he is both smart & fast (unlike his predecessor) accidents can happen in the best regulated families.....
Raikkonen, OTOH was ahead. He had to slow-down to be passed.

In the closing stages, and on a variable track, both calls were sensible, if not desirable. C'est la vie...."

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3. Posted by Spindoctor, 23/07/2018 12:02

"@Cobra Racer
I think you're showing your age.....
Not my style of course, different from, but hardly any worse than Vettel's early season Barnet, surely?"

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4. Posted by Karim, 23/07/2018 9:41

"@ *TestaRossa*
What do you make of the call to Valteri to 'hold position' as Valteri started to race Ham?

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5. Posted by *TestaRossa*, 22/07/2018 21:17

"Poor Kimi had to let Vet pass as always . Filipe Fernando is faster do you understand ...Rubens let Michael pass for the championship do you hear ..."

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6. Posted by Spartacus, 22/07/2018 19:46 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 23/07/2018 19:48)

"Yes, VET blew it. I can't sleep tonight, I can't see how he can. Dumb replies in the interview. Take the blame for your "BIG" mistake. Yes he admitted it but not enough."

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7. Posted by Editor, 22/07/2018 17:51

"@ Cobra Racer

Totally with you on the WTFs"

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8. Posted by Cobra Racer, 22/07/2018 17:49

"Cudos to Bottas for being a great team player. Thumbs down to Toto for not allowing his drivers to race. And a couple of WTFs to Hamilton for his hairdo.

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9. Posted by klmn, 22/07/2018 16:52

"Again Vettel crashes how can he do this to his team , so mant times the last years again and again.

Sebastian the Crasheris aka Sebastian Maldonado."

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