F1 Grand Prix of Germany HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 22: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates in parc ferme during the Formula One Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring on July 22, 2018 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

What could have been a disappointing weekend for Lewis Hamilton turned into a perfect storm of a race that gave him the win. Starting 14th on the grid, Hamilton had a gradual climb up the ranks and took the lead after Sebastian Vettel crashed out on lap 52. During a flurry of pit stops under the Safety Car that was deployed, Hamilton and the Mercedes pitwall made a very last second decision to stay out. This win puts Hamilton back into the lead of the drivers’ championship by 17 points. Mercedes also regained the constructors’ championship lead by eight points. Finishing behind Hamilton in the race was teammate Valtteri Bottas, and Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen.

Lewis Hamilton Wins German GP After Chaotic Safety Car Period

Dark clouds approached the Hockenheimring leading up to the race, with many people predicting rain an hour into the race. While heavy rain never came down, there were raindrops. Heavy rain held off until the podium ceremony. Starting on pole position was Sebastian Vettel, with Bottas and Raikkonen behind him. Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo started 19th on the grid because of engine penalties. The top half of the field started on ultrasoft tyres while the lower half of the grid were on soft tyres.

The Start

The start of the race did not see any major incidents, with most cars either moving a place or staying in their spot. The biggest first lap mover was Esteban Ocon, moving up three places to 12th. Hamilton did not pass much on the first lap, but made his way into the top 6 a few laps later. Raindrops were reported on the second lap, but did not become an issue until much later in the race.

Daniel Ricciardo Retires

Daniel Ricciardo finished off his disastrous weekend in the least desirable way. Once he had finally worked his way past the mid-pack, on lap 28 Ricciardo lost power, forcing him to pull over and retire from the race. The incident did not hinder the race, with no safety car or VSC deployed.

Hockenheim Flirts With Rain

A significant amount of rain started to come down three-fourths into the race, making three cars switch tyres. Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc switched to intermediate tyres and Pierre Gasly switched to the wet tyres, which did them no good once the rain ended minutes later. They all pitted shortly afterwards, dropping them down the grid.

Sebastian Vettel Retires, Causing Safety Car Madness

After leading most of the race, on lap 52 Vettel understeered and went off the track and hit the turn 13 barriers. This forced him to retire and the Safety Car was deployed. While Vettel expressed tons of anguish in the moment, after the race he did not seem too distressed by the moment. “It’s not like tonight I’ll have difficulties to fall asleep”, said Vettel, reflecting on the situation.

Under the SC, Hamilton got the lead after he veered off the pit road. During convoluted pit messages, Hamilton drove off the pit road, across the grass, back onto the track. This ended up being the wise decision, as it lead to him winning the race. Also under the safety car, both Williams cars retired from the race. Going back to green, Bottas was pushing for first place against his teammate. Later on, we heard the Mercedes team instructing Bottas to hold position. Bottas secured P2 while the lone Ferrari driver Raikkonen finished P3.

Post-race Comments

After the race Hamilton was asked if he doubted his victory, with him saying “You always gotta’ believe.” “I really manifested my dream today,” said Hamilton, reflecting on his victory. In a photogenic moment, champagne rained down on all three podium drivers while rain poured down on the crowd below.

Next week F1 heads to the Hungaroring for the Hungarian GP. While Vettel won the GP last year, Hamilton holds the record for most wins at the track (5). The see-saw battle for the Drivers’ Championship lead continues.

Full Timing:

Pos # Driver Team Laps Time Points
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 67 1:32:29.845 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 67 +4.535 18
3 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 67 +6.732 15
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 67 +7.654 12
5 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 67 +26.609 10
6 8 Romain Grosjean Haas 67 +28.871 8
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India 67 +30.556 6
8 31 Esteban Ocon Force India 67 +31.750 4
9 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 67 +32.362 2
10 28 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 67 +34.197 1
11 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 67 +34.919
12 55 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault 67 +43.069
13 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 67 +46.617
14 10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 66 +1 lap
15 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber 66 +1 lap
16 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren
Ret 18 Lance Stroll Williams
Ret 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
Ret 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams
Ret 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing

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