This weekend consisted of a particularly rainy F1 race at Hockenheim, bringing with it all of the drama you would expect from such conditions. Skids, crashes and a surprising podium, the leading driver, Lewis Hamilton, found himself further down the leaderboard than anyone expected. In the words of Hamilton himself, “how has it gone this bad?” His sentiment was felt by nearly every driver on the track, apart from Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Daniil Kvyat who benefited from the unpredictable conditions.
When asked to describe the conditions on the track, Lando Norris very aptly replied “er… [expletive] wet?! Can’t see a thing, very wet”. And he wasn’t wrong. The race saw many of the most prominent drivers skid out of their Hockenheim podium dreams, most of them on the same unfortunate corner. For viewers, this made for an exciting, unpredictable 64 laps. Take a look at our recap of the German F1 Grand Prix, 2019.
Pre-Race: Safety Car
Due to the conditions, the race began with a safety car leading the drivers so they could get a feel for the track’s conditions. With each driver, no matter their skill, unsteady on their wheels, it was set to be a challenging race.
Lap 1: A Tentative Start
Getting off the line, it was a tentative start for the drivers compared to other races. Unsurprisingly, Hamilton sped away with Valtteri Bottas close behind him, but as Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly experienced wheelspin due to a technical error, they were forced so dropped back.
Going into the first corner, Grosjean went wide but regained his composure enough to rejoin the drivers. Going wide became a common trend for the drivers, as the next few corners saw Gasly and Leclerc also having to fight to push back into their positions after taking the corners wide.
Lap 2: Perez Is The First To Spin
Despite only being the second lap, the crowds erupted as Perez from Racing Point spun out. The first of many spins during the race, it was clear from the damage to the car that Perez was out of the race. A disappointing start for Racing Point, previously known as Force India. An action replay told the full story, with the track slick from the rain Perez lost traction and sailed into the wall.
Lap 8: Raikkonen Passes Magnussen
A fierce battle between Magnussen, Raikkonen and Vettel dominated lap eight, with Magnussen desperately trying to hold off the other two drivers who were nipping at his wheels. As Raikkonen fought for traction, Vettel applied the pressure going into the corner with no avail. Onto the straight, Raikkonen slammed his foot down and soared past Magnussen, who couldn’t compete with the Ferrari’s sheer speed.
Lap 19: Sainz Spins Then Recovers
Much like Perez, Sainz, driving for Renault, succumbed to the same fate, skidding across the track and colliding with the wall. Unlike Perez, Sainz managed to keep his engine running and backed out of the crash, before rejoining the race.
This spin set a precedent for one damned corner. Bordered by a black surface, visibly slippy with rain, Sainz became the first of many to fall foul to the corner - coined “The Skating Rink” by the commentators.
Lap 24: Vettel Chooses Slick Tyres
Twenty-four laps in, Vettel pitted to opt for slick tyres. With the outcome of his race now in the “hands of the gods”, as described by the commentators, his team waited with bated breath to see whether their decision would put him ahead of the pack, or result in a spin.
Lap 26: Verstappen Spins On Soft Tyres
As he turned an entire 360 before rejoining the track, Verstappen criticised his team for giving him the soft tyres. Whilst spinning, he stated over the radio “you shouldn’t have given me the soft tyres!”.
Lap 27: Norris Loses Power
Only one lap later, tragedy struck for Britain's Lando Norris, firmly positioning the race as the most dramatic of the season so far. Recorded over the radio stating that he had lost power, the race was over for Norris.
Lap 29: Leclerc & Hamilton Spin Out
With the crowds roaring, Leclerc collided with the barriers on the same corner that caught out Sainz. The Ferrari driver spun his wheels fruitlessly against the loose gravel, digging himself an even deeper hole. This was the second race at the German Grand Prix in a row that a Ferrari driver had ended their race by a run-in with the barriers, proving that even one of the biggest teams can make rookie mistakes.
Lap twenty-seven proved to be a disastrous lap for some of the biggest names in F1 racing. As Hamilton fell foul to the conditions, he spun out and hit the wall, damaging his car. Leaving his front wing behind, he skipped the barriers to nip into the pits. But his nightmare didn’t end there.
Due to his decision to pit, his team didn’t have time to prepare for not just a wing change, but a tyre change too. The chaotic scene saw mechanics running around Hamilton’s car, desperately trying to scramble together the spare parts. Reminiscent of 1950s F1 racing, the pit took nearly an entire minute before he could rejoin the race.
Lap 34: Hamilton Incurs A Penalty
Five laps later, it was announced that Hamilton would incur a 5-second penalty for entering the pits on the wrong side of the bollard. The driver didn’t have time to worry about his mistake, as Sainz was hot on his heels for 5th place.
Lap 41: Hulkenberg Spins Out of The Race
Renault’s Hulkenberg joined Leclerc, Norris, Ricardo and Perez when he ended his race early. Due to understeering, the driver fell victim to the slippery black border which resulted in him colliding with the wall. Continuing the theme of rookie mistakes, the seasoned driver actually hit the brakes, sealing his doom.
Lap 46: Hamilton, Sainz, Albon & Gasly Fight For 3rd
Despite the initial spin, Verstappen’s tyre change sent him flying to the front of the race. Behind him, Hamilton, Sainz, Albon and Gasly fought it out in a quad formation. Wheel to wheel, Hamilton and Sainz took the lead, with Glasly close behind and Albon dropped to a disappointing 8th.
Highlighted by the commentators, Hamilton experienced supposed technical issues during turns two and three, possible explaining how the pack of drivers were able to catch up with him in 3rd place.
Lap 49: Kvyat Secures Third
During this lap, Kvyat secured his position for the remainder of the race, when he took 3rd from Stroll. Apart from taking then losing 2nd to Vettel, Kvyat held on to 3rd place for the next 15 laps, ensuring his place on the podium.
Whilst this was happening, Kvyat’s girlfriend, Kelly Piquet, was giving birth to their baby daughter. As Kvyat took to the podium, he had more than one reason to celebrate - it’s safe to say that he won’t forget his race at the German Grand Prix.
Lap 57: Bottas Spins Out of The Race
After a dramatic spin that resulted in his front tyre hanging off of the car, Valtteri Bottas skids on the damp track to crash into the barrier. With his race over, the Mercedes driver left Lewis Hamilton to finish the race on behalf of the team.
Lap 62: Albon Damages Gasly’s Wing
With only a handful of laps left to go, the mighty force of the F1 team, Ferrari, was put to the test once again as Sebastian Vettel soared past Stroll, who was powerless against the Ferrari’s speed. Despite Stroll’s defence, Vettel takes 3rd place with room to spare. A sea of supporters wearing red erupted from the stand, as the commentators declared “you’re either wearing orange at Hockenheim, or you’re wearing red at Hockenheim”.
Giving the crowds no time to settle from the fierce battle, Gasly suddenly darted off the track with a front wing issue. Sparks flew as the driver desperately tried to control the car into a safe stop. Looking back at the footage, both Albon and Gasly attempted to drive right, resulting in Albon touching Gasly’s wing with the back of his car as he tried to defend the attack.
Lap 63: Vettel Dominates 2nd Position
Moving from 20th position to 2nd, Vettel soared past Kvyat to secure his position on the podium. The sound of the crowd was deafening, as both commentators and ticket holders alike congratulated the driver’s feat of persistence.
Lap 64: Verstappen Takes 1st place!
To the soundtrack of a screaming crowd, Verstappen finishes in 1st position. Though it wasn’t the result that people expected, many felt like the shakeup was a breath of fresh air compared to the previous races, where Mercedes’ Hamilton ruled the podium.
In the end, racing giant Hamilton came a disappointing 9th place, meaning that the Hockenheim leaderboard resulted in only two points for him. A race like this proves that there is everything to play for, and with many more races to go before someone is crowned World Champion, the drama is far from over.
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