Hamilton delivers miraculous win in German GP

2018-07-25 06:02

HOW dramatically the Formula 1 pendulum can swing. For most of the German Grand Prix pole sitter Sebastian Vettel seemed well in control and seemingly heading towards a first win at the Hockenheimring.

He led Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen cleanly from the start and was eking out the first stint on the ultrasoft compound. Meanwhile Hamilton, starting 14th after a mechanical failure in quali, was scything his way through the field on the soft compound tyre.

Nevertheless, before too long he was a pitstop adrift of the race leader.

Raikkonen pitted first of the front-runners on lap 15.

On the soft tyre the Finn delivered a string of fastest laps, which ultimately netted him the lead of the race after the pitstop phase.

However, as Vettel’s tyres were 12 laps fresher the Ferrari pitwall instructed Raikkonen to let his German teammate through. Hamilton and his Mercedes team chose not to pit and completed a stunningly impressive stint of 42 laps on the soft tyre. It was unquestionably a master class in tyre management.

By now Daniel Ricciardo, starting from the back of the grid due to penalties had pulled out of the race after reporting that he was “losing power”. On lap 46 the rain came in and prompted several drivers, including Verstappen, into the pitlane for intermediate tyres.

While the track remained slippery unfortunately for them the rain didn’t increase and they had to switch back to slicks.

Vettel’s race too would be dramatically affected in the slippery conditions. as the race plunged into chaos with a dozen laps to go.

Caught out by conditions Vettel dumped his Ferrari into the barriers and out of the race.

It brought out the safety car which Raikkonen and Bottas took advantage of by switching to fresh ultrasofts.

Hamilton too was initially called in only to be told to stay out. The Brit stayed out by controversially cutting the pit entry line. Post race a Mercedes team representative and Hamilton were summoned to the stewards for breaching Appendix L, Chapter IV Article 4 (d) of the FIA International Sporting Code.

The regulation states that crossing the pit entry line is prohibited. While Raikkonen received a five second penalty for breaching the same rule in the 2016 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Hamilton was given only a reprimand.

Remarkably, the stewards considered the fact that the “team candidly admitted the mistake and the fact that there was confusion” as a mitigating factor.

Considering this and the inconsistency of the rule application teams will undoubtedly put this nugget away for future reference.

Nonetheless, Hamilton’s drive was a stellar one. His control on the soft tyre and ability to master the slippery conditions make this victory, arguably, one of the best of his career.

The one two victory for Mercedes regains them the lead in the constructors’ standings by eight points while Hamilton returns to the top of the drivers’ standings as well. Raikkonen’s third place, his fourth podium in four races, keeps his third in the standings and some would say still within striking distance should all thing be equal.

Elsewhere, Verstappen finished fourth after a gamble on the intermediate tyres didn’t pay off. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg proved best of the rest in fifth with Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, Marcus Ericsson, and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley rounding out the top 10.

Meanwhile, in addition to Vettel and Ricciardo, both McLaren drivers and both the Williams’ failed to reach the chequered flag.

Hamilton now takes a 17-point lead to the Hungarian Grand Prix next weekend where Ferrari and especially Red Bull are expected to have the upper hand.


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