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Verstappen wins dramatic German Grand Prix

NEWS STORY
28/07/2019

There's a superb sketch by Mitchell and Webb in which David Mitchell absolutely nails the ridiculous, over-the-top build-up that Sky gives to every single football match that it shows.

Ahead of today's German Grand Prix however, one would forgive Sky, and indeed any other F1 broadcaster, for going full-on in terms of hyperbole, for today's race could be epic, surpassing anything witnessed at the Red Bull Ring or Silverstone.

For a start off we have Lewis Hamilton starting alongside Max Verstappen, surely the hottest ticket in town. While Valtteri Bottas and Pierre Gasly behind could be fun, we also have the canny old fox Kimi Raikkonen in the mix, not forgetting Romain Grosjean.

And then there's the Ferrari pair, both chomping at the bit following yesterday's misery, Charles Leclerc starting tenth and Sebastian Vettel tenth.

Imagine, if you will, after last year's nightmare, the German were to redeem himself by battling through the field to take a podium.

Then, to cap it all off, we have the weather gods, who, having opted to reduce temperatures a little, look set to ensure a real humdinger of a race by ensuring rain... and plenty of it.

Though the threat has been there throughout, following heavy rain overnight, which once again washed away the previously lain rubber, it looks set to continue for much of the afternoon.

The rear of the official race programme for the 1993 Belgian Grand Prix featured a picture of Ayrton Senna in his McLaren, seemingly in prayer. "Please, let it rain," read the caption.

One can easily imagine similar images of Seb and Charles today, though a number of drivers, including Lewis and Max would be happy.

Of course, with no wet running this weekend, or pretty much this year, Pirelli's Mario Isola admits that it would be a giant step into the unknown for everyone.

Should however, the weather gods opt not to play, deeming that we should be satisfied with the thrill provided by the previous two races, the optimal race strategy would be a one-stopper, starting on mediums for 24 to 29 laps before switching to the hards until the finish. Slightly slower than that will another one-stopper, but this time starting on softs for 18 to 22 laps before moving onto the hards.

A two-stopper is definitely slower, but one to bear in mind if the degradation on soft is higher than expected (in case the weather is warmer than anticipated, for example). In which case, it's equally as quick to do two stints on softs (of 15 to 18 laps each) and one stint on mediums, or one stint on softs (of 15 to 18 laps) and two stints on mediums (of 22 to 26 laps each).

If it rains, the top 10 drivers on the grid won't have the obligation to start on the tyres with which they set their best Q2 times, nor will they have to use more than one compound.

After qualifying Hamilton revealed that Mercedes had considered drafting in Esteban Ocon to replace him after the Briton felt unwell overnight. Speaking ahead of today's race, when told of his former teammate's 'man flu', Nico Rosberg suggested that Lewis is a bit of a drama queen. No!

The pitlane opens and as the rain continues to fall, full wets are the order of the day. With so little wet running this year, there is lots of activity as the drivers seek to use the fifteen minutes for some 'proper' wet running. Indeed, some pit and switch to Inters.

A number of drivers fall foul of the conditions and run wide, Hamilton amongst them.

Asked to describe the conditions, Norris replies: "f****** wet, can't see a thing."

"Way too much water with the Inters," says Leclerc, "aquaplaning quite a lot."

Told that even on the Inters the temperatures are high, he is advised that this is the tyres to go with. "It's just the aquaplaning for the first few laps," he is helpfully warned by Andy Shovlin.

Air temperature is 21.2 degrees C, while the track temperature is 26.4 degrees.

The big debate is whether the race should start behind the safety car or not, naturally the likes of Magnussen want a 'proper' standing start.

The formation lap will take place behind the safety car, but hopefully not the race start. Indeed, as we know, Bottas intends starting on Inters.

It is then confirmed to Hamilton that there will be "some laps" behind the safety car to clear the water, before a decision is made as to whether the race will begin with a standing or rolling start. Somewhat ironic when you consider how much Mercedes is making of the history of the sport this weekend.

The wraps come off and all are starting on full wets.

"More of the same, light rain for thirty to sixty minutes," Hamilton is advised.

The field heads off on the formation lap(s), unlike those behind him, Hamilton has the benefit of great visibility.

As the safety car begins a second lap, Magnussen asks them to get on with it, Verstappen voicing similar thoughts.

"The safety car needs to come in, it's not that wet," says Hamilton, "C'mon, let's go."

Asked the conditions at the start of yet another lap, Verstappen replies: "Perfect to go."

At which point it is confirmed that the safety car will pull off and the race will get underway with a standing start.

After three formation laps, the grid finally forms. Race distance is reduced from 67 to 64 laps.

They're away. Strong starts from both Mercedes, while Verstappen loses ground. Further back, as spray covers most of the field, Leclerc is alongside Gasly.

Into T1 Bottas runs wide, and as he rejoins the track Raikkonen is almost alongside. Behind, Verstappen holds fourth, as Sainz, Grosjean and Hulkenberg are side-by-side into T2, as Giovinazzi runs wide.

Grosjean is the meat in the sandwich at the hairpin, and as Hulkenberg forces the Haas wide, Sainz has to take avoiding action.

At the end of lap 1, it's: Hamilton, Bottas, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Leclerc, Grosjean, Gasly, Sainz and Magnussen. Vettel is up to 14th.

Sainz runs wide as he battles with Grosjean, the Frenchman moving up to 7th in the process.

Verstappen nails Raikkonen at the hairpin, While Magnussen and Perez are continually swapping positions.

It's all over for Perez, who spins and clouts the wall at T11.

The safety car is deployed and Vettel and Albon both pit for Inters. Hamilton is also told to pit.

Sure enough, at the end of lap 2, Hamilton pits, as do Bottas, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Leclerc and Uncle Tom Cobbly. Stroll doesn't pit, nor does Magnussen, Norris, Russell and Kubica.

The safety cars withdraws at the end of lap 4, as replay shows Leclerc almost taking out Grosjean during the pit stops.

Inter-shod Bottas soon dispatches wet-shod Magnussen. Vettel is now up to 11th.

Leclerc lines up Magnussen, but the Dane isn't going to make it easy. However, the Ferrari driver passes the Haas in the final corner. Though he almost loses it in T1, he holds position while Hulkenberg passes Magnussen.

On board reveals Vettel was very nearly hit by Kubica as he worked his way through the wet strugglers.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Hockenheim, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by imejl99, 29/07/2019 7:12

"Helmut Marko faces tough choice, Albon or Kvyat to replace Gasly? ;)

Looking forward for the Verstappen - Leclerc - Norris - Albon era, if only rules are constant more teams will get it right. "

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by klmn, 28/07/2019 19:23

"Fia = Ferrari International Assistance.
again.
"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Stitch431, 28/07/2019 17:41

"Great race to see, only mishaps were performed by the stewards. In Monaco Verstappen was penalized for an unsafe release, which cost him his podium. Here Leclerc is not punished but the team only has to pay a fine. In itself this is okay, if they would have applied the rules consistently, which they obviously did not. Great race, big minus for the stewards."

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