Lewis Hamilton enters this week’s race in Germany with 80 career F1 victories, which is second only to Michael Schumacher’s 91.
On the back of entertaining races in Austria and Great Britain, Formula 1 returns to Hockenheim for the F1 German Grand Prix.
The German Grand Prix marks a year since Sebastian Vettel last topped the championship standings. Leading the series standings heading into the 2018 race, Vettel finished second to Lewis Hamilton and red faced after sliding off the track while leading comfortably.
The first in a series of mistakes that still continue – notably the contact with Max Verstappen at Silverstone – the Italian media are calling for Vettel to be removed from the team for 2020 as Charles Leclerc is seen as the future No. 1 for Ferrari.
The race also becomes the backdrop to the latest round of silly season talk.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas has confirmed that he would seek a move to Ferrari if he is not retained at Mercedes. It is difficult to see why Mercedes would release Bottas when there is a good chemistry around their team — Hamilton is happy, and a sixth consecutive constructors’ and drivers’ championship double is just over the horizon.
Sebastian Vettel crashed out of the 2018 F1 German Grand Prix while in the lead.
A second but potentially more imminent driver transfer rumor concerns Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean and Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon. Grosjean has just two points to his name in 2019 compared to the 14 of teammate Kevin Magnussen, and with five retirements to Magnussen’s one, the Haas team is running out of patience.
It had been thought by some observers that Ocon could have been in the Grosjean seat in time for the German Grand Prix weekend, but any move would now likely come after the Hungarian Grand Prix on Aug. 4 and during the summer break.
Linking the two moves, Ocon is the front runner to replace Bottas at Mercedes in 2020, so Mercedes would be keen to get the Frenchman back into a car and race ready as soon as possible.
Circuit length: 2.8 miles
Race distance: 190.4 miles
Fastest race lap: 1:13.780 (Kimi Raikkonen – 2004)
2018 pole time: 1:11.212 (Sebastian Vettel)
A hydraulic problem in qualifying meant that Hamilton would line up 14th — well behind pole-sitter Vettel and an in the midfield chaos.
Having been able to start on the harder tires while his title-challenging rivals had all started on the softs, Hamilton found himself in third by the midpoint of the race by virtue of not stopping. Mercedes tried to keep Hamilton out until the predicted rain would arrive but, on lap 42 of 67, they had to admit defeat and head for the pits.
Just two-laps later, the rain arrived and, contrary to Mercedes theory that it would be light rain, it was a complete downpour.
On lap-52, with the rain now falling across most of the track, came Vettel’s season-changing moment. Vettel was leading by more than 10 seconds but ran offline in the stadium section and got stuck in the gravel. Coming into the round with a slender points lead to Hamilton, he would never be a threat again.
The resulting safety car saw Hamilton remain out on track while both Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen pitted, gifting Hamilton the lead, the win, and the championship lead.
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