In what was one of the most eventful races in recent memory, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won an incident-filled German Grand Prix.
With heavy rain prior to the race start – the conditions were predicted to cause a challenge, given the lack of wet weather running in 2020. In fact, a number of the category’s newest drivers had never driven a Formula 1 car in the rain.
That recipe promised fireworks and Germany delivered with a race for the ages.
It was a story of what could have been for CAMS Ambassador Daniel Ricciardo who was forced to retire early in the race with an exhaust failure, leaving the Australian frustrated in pit lane.
“I could see a lot of smoke coming out from the back of the car and that was our day done,” Ricciardo said.
“It’s certainly a shame. I watched the rest of the race and it looked a lot of fun out there. I would have loved to have been racing as there were opportunities for big points. It’s disappointing but we’ll move on to next week.”
All drivers started the race on full wet tyres, before pitting for intermediates. As conditions began to dry, the move to slicks was too tempting for some drivers to ignore. Constant drizzle meant conditions were slippery and left no room for error, with some of the best drivers caught out.
Charles Leclerc, Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg all crashed out of contention throughout the race – their incidents bringing out safety cars and a flurry of pit stops with it.
Those pit stops saw strategies mixed and thanks to some clever work for teams, a number of fresh faces were left fighting for a podium. Towards the end of the race, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll led the field in his own right after making the right call to switch to slicks, before eventually finishing an impressive fourth.
Sebastian Vettel had a home race to remember. After starting 20th, the German powered to second place to give Ferrari hope in a season where they have underperformed.
Torro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was another one of the strong finishers, taking the final step of the podium in another surprise result among all the spins, retirements and pit stop strategies.
And somehow, even race winner Verstappen spun during the race, but his adventure cost him only time that was easily made up during the various safety car periods
“It was amazing, of course to win, but it was really tricky out there,” Verstappen said.
“We made the right calls and you really had to be focused. We pitted onto the slick tyre, had a little moment, made a nice 360 so that was nice. Enjoyed that.
“It was all about trying to not make too many mistakes. You learn, over the years. I was very happy with the whole performance today.”
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was lucky to end the day in ninth, but it won’t be a race Hamilton will look back on fondly.
While his healthy Championship lead remains intact, the Briton had a brush with the wall which cost him his front wing, as well as a penalty for entering the pit lane incorrectly.
In even more surprising news from a race that rewrote the form book, Williams managed to score their first Championship point of the year, with Robert Kubica classified in tenth, with both Alfa Romeos handed 30 second penalties post-race. Officials ruled both Alfa drivers’ ‘clutch torque application’ breached the rules – essentially giving the pair the benefit of an improved start time, equivalent to a false start.
Teams won’t have long to recover from an epic day in Germany, with Hungary hosting the next round of the Championship in just under a week’s time.