Lewis Hamilton recovered from fourteenth on the grid to win a wet/dry German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, after Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vettel crashed out from the lead.
Scuderia Ferrari driver Vettel was leading on lap 52 of 67 as rain began to fall, meaning track conditions were difficult to negotiate. Entering the stadium section, Vettel lost control of his car, and hit the outside barrier at Turn 13, bringing out the safety car.
Räikkönen, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen all pitted for a fresh set of ultrasoft Pirelli tyres, but Hamilton did not amid confusion over the radio with his Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team.
On the safety restart with 10 laps remaining, Bottas tried to make a move on his team-mate, but after going side-by-side through Turn 7, was told to hold position behind Hamilton, thus securing Mercedes its first ever 1-2 in the history of the German Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s victory, the 66th of his career, is the first time he has won a grand prix from outside the top six, and means he returns to the summit of the drivers’ championship, with Mercedes doing the same in the constructors’ championship.
Räikkönen and Verstappen had a late duel for the final podium spot, with the Finn edging out the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver.
Threat of rain looms large
At lights out, the running order remained largely unchanged, until Hamilton began to make his way through the field after his hydraulic failure in qualifying.
Starting on the soft compound tyre, Hamilton began to scythe through the field, making a majority of his moves up in the inside at the Turn 6 hairpin. By Lap 14, Hamilton was into fifth place, after a move on Kevin Magnussen.
Mercedes opted to start Hamilton on the soft tyre, with the hope that he could make it to when the forecast rain would hit the circuit. On Lap 43, Hamilton pitted from third place for a fresh set of ultrasoft tyres, as light rain began to fall at Hockenheim.
Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso and Verstappen were among those to pit for intermediate tyres, although track conditions were not wet enough, leading to that strategy being abandoned by its exponents soon after.
After Vettel had crashed into the Turn 13 barrier with 15 laps to run, Hamilton was able to fend off the attacks from behind, leaving him to take the chequered flag 4.535s ahead of team-mate Bottas.
Räikkönen was the first of the front runners to make a pitstop, doing so on Lap 14 for soft tyres and began to set a series of fastest laps.
By the time that Vettel had made his own pitstop eight laps later, the 2007 world champion emerged in the net lead of the race, inheriting P1 after Verstappen had boxed.
The gap between the two Ferrari’s stayed at around one second, but Vettel complained about tyre temperatures behind his team-mate, which led to Ferrari asking Räikkönen to “not hold up Seb.” Vettel then passed his team-mate in the Turn six hairpin on Lap 39 and began about extending his lead before crashing out 13 laps later.
Hülkenberg wins ‘Class B’
As both Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo retired from the grand prix, Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver Nico Hülkenberg made the most of the difficult conditions to take fifth place, after starting seventh on the grid.
Hülkenberg benefited from clever strategy and misfortune for the Haas F1 Team drivers to take so-called ‘Class B’ honours.
Haas’s race went from good to worse after being caught out in the rain/safety car episode. Magnussen had been running as high as fifth early on, but fell back to finish out of the points after pitting behind the safety car to switch from intermediate tyres.
As Haas was caught out with the weather, the Sahara Force India F1 Team drivers benefited handsomely, coming home to secure seventh and eighth with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon from 10th and 16th on the grid, respectively.
Marcus Ericsson added to his ninth place finish in Bahrain with a similar result, while Brendon Hartley score a second career point, after a late race penalty demoted Carlos Sainz, Jr. to 12th, behind Magnussen.
Stoffel Vandoorne endured a difficult afternoon for the McLaren F1 Team, and after being last by more than 30 seconds at one stage, came back to take 13th, and finished ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso who had a scrappy race to 16th, and last.
Red Bull Toro Rosso-Honda driver Pierre Gasly had a quiet afternoon, but finished ahead of Charles Leclerc who fell back late on, struggling in the conditions.
Double Williams retirement
Williams Martini Racing suffered a double DNF, with two laps of each other during the brief shower. Sergey Sirotkin suffered a failure out on track while Lance Stroll came into the pits to retire soon after.
As well as Vettel crashing out, Ricciardo was the only other retirement, having suffered a loss of power in his RB14, while running in sixth on Lap 29.
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