Hamilton claims incredible German GP win
Lewis Hamilton has claimed an incredible victory in the German Grand Prix amid tricky changeable conditions at Hockenheim.
A strategy gamble from Mercedes saw Hamilton run long at the start of the race before finding himself in the right place on track as the weather closed in.
The slippery mixed conditions caught out Sebastian Vettel, who looked set for a comfortable race win, as the Ferrari driver arrowed into the barrier at the Sachskurve.
It triggered the Safety Car, with a number of teams bringing their drivers into the pits, Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen among them.
It left Hamilton out front, holding the advantage despite a brief challenge from Bottas at the restart to win with Raikkonen in third.
Having started 14th, Hamilton climbed back to fifth after just 14 laps, scything his way through the traffic in the early laps.
Also starting out of position, Daniel Ricciardo also made progress, though at a more steady rate than Hamilton’s.
Sporting a set of the medium compound Pirelli tyres, Red Bull looked to run the Australian long in the opening stint though he never reached his stop, forced to stop on Lap 29 after sensing a loss of power.
Out front, the leading four of Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, and Max Verstappen opened a comfortable advantage over Kevin Magnussen, Vettel extending a two second advantage in the opening laps before eking out that gap in the following laps.
Raikkonen stopped after 15 laps, emerging on track immediately in front of Hamilton as Ferrari looked to apply pressure to Bottas in second place, and seemingly run interference ahead of Hamilton.
Vettel stopped on Lap 26, temporarily handing the race lead to Bottas before rejoining between Raikkonen and Hamilton in fourth place.
Three laps later Bottas was in, filtering back into the race behind Hamilton to leave Verstappen out front until he stopped the next time around.
It left the early-stopping Raikkonen with a narrow lead over Vettel, with Hamilton in third but yet to stop.
Despite his fresher rubber, Vettel found himself unable to pass Raikkonen until Ferrari finally moved the Finn aside on Lap 39.
Mercedes called Hamilton into the lane after 42 laps, fitting a set of ultra soft tyres just minutes before much of pit lane expected rain to begin to fall.
The predicted rain arrived on Lap 44, coming in at the Turn 6 hairpin.
Sauber blinked first, pitting Charles Leclerc for a set of intermediate tyres, triggering a flurry of activity from McLaren and Toro Rosso despite the majority of the circuit remaining dry.
With the freshest rubber, Hamilton took chunks out of the advantage of those ahead, the Englishman more than a second a lap faster than anybody else on circuit.
The early gamblers were left to rue their decisions, with Leclerc back in on Lap 49 to fit a fresh set of slicks, while Pierre Gasly swapped his full wets back for a set of ultrasoft tyres.
Red Bull had also gambled, switching Verstappen to intermediate tyres, but was forced to reverse its decision by bringing the Dutchman back in a handful of laps later.
The changeable conditions continued as the rain returned, Leclerc and Perez spinning as Bottas put a move on Raikkonen as the Ferrari driver struggled for purchase from his slick tyres.
As that happened, Raikkonen found himself pushed wide by Magnussen’s Haas as conditions began to deteriorate more quickly.
Conditions caught out race leader Vettel who slid off the circuit at the Sachskurve, burying the Ferrari in the gravel.
The German lost the back end as he turned into the hairpin, skating off the road as he applied opposite lock.
It triggered the Safety Car, with Bottas diving into the lane where he was delayed while the team scrambled to find the right set of tyres.
Hamilton bounced over the grass at pit entry, looking as though he was heading into the lane before changing his mind at the last possible moment amid a mass of confused radio calls from the pit wall.
Ferrari did stop Raikkonen a lap after the safety car emerged, fitting a set of ultrasoft tyres and dropping him to third.
It left Hamilton out front, leading a Mercedes 1-2 with the bulk of the field between the race leader and Bottas in second place.
That advantage was removed when lapped runners were allowed to overtake the Safety Car, leaving the front runners line astern at the restart.
The Safety Car released the field on Lap 58, the two Mercedes drivers getting the jump over third placed Raikkonen.
Bottas launched an attack on Hamilton at Turn 6, the two Mercedes running side by side before Hamilton regain the upper hand.
The Finn was called off by the team, leaving Hamilton clear to take the win from Bottas with Raikkonen third.
Result: German Formula 1 Grand Prix
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Renault||+7.654|
|6||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||+28.871|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||+30.556|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes||+31.750|
|9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||+32.362|
|10||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso Honda||+34.197|
|11||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||+34.919|
|13||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Renault||+46.617|
|14||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso Honda||+1 lap|
|15||Charles Leclerc||Sauber Ferrari||+1 lap|
|16||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Renault||+1 lap|
|DNF||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||+14 laps|
|DNF||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+16 laps|
|DNF||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Mercedes||+16 laps|
|DNF||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Renault||+40 laps|