The Eifel Grand Prix remained a cold affair with temperatures in the 9 degree centigrade or 48 degrees Fahrenheit but at least the fog and rain that canceled both practice sessions on Friday stayed away.
The canceled sessions meant that there was precious little data to develop the best race strategies for Sunday. The teams calculated their pace and tire wear on one session Saturday morning and that was about the same time that Racing Point called Nico Hulkenberg to hustle over from Cologne to sit in for an ill Lance Stroll.
It was great to see the Nurburgring again but it wasn’t a great weekend for a few teams who all suffered DNF’s and mechanical issues and chief among them was pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas.
In the end, it was a good weekend for Red Bulls’ Max Verstappen and a great weekend for Daniel Ricciardo but it was a record-breaking weekend for Lewis Hamilton.
A win for Lewis Hamilton who capitalized on an error from his teammate, Valtteri Bottas to take the lead and equal Michael Schumacher’s all-time win record at 91. Lewis drove a measured race with a competitive Max Verstappen behind him and while the Mercedes was quicker it was not the sheer domination they normally have.
A win for Mick Schumacher and the Schumacher family for giving Lewis a race helmet from the champion’s collection.
A win for Max Verstappen who found some competitive pace in Germany and made a race of it keeping the Mercedes duo honest and taking a well-deserved 2nd place.
A big win for Renault and Daniel Ricciardo who have methodically been improving race-on-race and while the Safety Car really benefitted Daniel, he was on the podium in 3rd on merit.
A win fo Sergio Perez who claimed 4th through his terrific tire management and the safety car may have denied him a podium finish. His teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, claims points in 8th having just sat in the car for qualifying. It goes a long way in the constructor points for Racing Point with Norris out and Carlos Sainz in P5.
A win for Alpha Tauri for points in the last eight races with Pierre Gasly in P6.
A fail for Lando Norris and McLaren for a DNF due to loss of power and Lando joined Alex Albon, Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas for DNF’s. Bottas and Norris were on brand new engines this weekend.
A fail for Kimi Raikkonen who was starting his record-breaking 323rd race and did so by punting George Russell off the track in Turn1 and ended the British driver’s race. Kimi served a 5s penalty but struggled for the rest of the race toward the back of the pack.
Those alternate strategies for Sebastian Vettel, Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen didn’t work with their teammates well up the road. The hard tire gamble didn’t pay dividends for Kvyat and Vettel.
Not sure why they left the SC out so long waiting for lapped traffic to catch up to tail of leaders. Seems like they left it out a lap too long.
Concerning that Bottas had engine trouble as that was a new power unit for this weekend and one wonders if the lack of Friday running hurt even more to iron out any of the quirks with a new lump in the back.
Pirelli’s Key Moments:
- Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took his 91st career win to equal Michael Schumacher’s record. Hamilton, locked in a close duel with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, stopped twice, going from P Zero Red soft tyres to P Zero Yellow medium, to soft tyres again for the final stint. Verstappen followed an identical strategy, stopping on the same laps as Hamilton.
- The strategy was influenced by a virtual safety car and then a safety car. At the virtual safety car, around quarter of the way into the race, a number of drivers made their first stops: including the top three finishers. When the safety car came out, several drivers made their second stops: again including the podium finishers. There was then effectively a 10-lap sprint race to the finish, with the frontrunners on soft tyres.
- Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo finished third, using a similar strategy to the top three. In doing so, he sealed Renault’s first podium since 2011.
- Just one driver stopped only once: Haas’s Romain Grosjean, who moved from the medium to the P Zero White hard tyre on lap 28 and finished ninth from 16th on the grid.
- The highest climber was Racing Point’s Nico Hulkenberg, who started 20th after being drafted in for qualifying, and finished eighth: having followed the same tyre strategy as the top five (soft-medium-soft).
- Temperatures remained cold: just 11 degrees ambient at the end of the race, with 19 degrees of track temperature. This made keeping the tyres in the right temperature window particularly challenging: especially at the safety car re-start.
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1h35m49.641s|
|2||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||4.470s|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault DP World F1 Team||14.613s|
|4||Sergio Perez||BWT Racing Point F1 Team||16.070s|
|5||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team||21.905s|
|6||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||22.766s|
|7||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari||30.814s|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||BWT Racing Point F1 Team||32.596s|
|9||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team||39.081s|
|10||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||40.035s|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari||40.810s|
|12||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN||41.476s|
|13||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||49.585s|
|14||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Racing||54.449s|
|15||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||55.588s|
|–||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team||Power Unit|
|–||Alexander Albon||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||Radiator|
|–||Esteban Ocon||Renault DP World F1 Team||Hydraulics|
|–||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||Power Unit|
|–||George Russell||Williams Racing||Collision|
|–||Lance Stroll||BWT Racing Point F1 Team||Withdrawn|