German GP: Max Verstappen wins wet-dry F1 epic after chaotic race
Verstappen wins, Vettel and Kvyat form unexpected podium; Four Safety Cars in crazy race; Hamilton, Leclerc and Bottas all crash; But Lewis gets two points due to Alfa Romeo penalties
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 28/07/19 9:35pm
Max Verstappen claimed an extraordinary German GP victory after one of the most dramatic F1 races in recent years, with chaos throughout and costly crashes for Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas.
It was an absolute epic in Hockenheim as sporadic rainfall caused havoc, with a total of four Safety Cars in the race and overtakes aplenty, but Verstappen somehow stayed focused to seal his second victory of the season.
Sebastian Vettel took advantage of the mayhem to finish second, despite starting from the very back of the grid, while Daniil Kvyat sealed a superb surprise podium for Toro Rosso.
"It was an amazing race to win in the end," said Verstappen, who had a 360 spin himself during the race and pitted five times. "it was really tricky out there to make the right calls."
Sky F1's Martin Brundle added: "It was a stunning race. We've had three on the bounce and they're actually getting better and better."
Verstappen is now 63 points behind championship leader Hamilton in the standings while he is only 22 behind Bottas after both Mercedes toiled on a crazy afternoon of racing.
Hamilton finished the race in 11th but was bumped up to ninth after both Alfa Romeo drivers were handed 30s penalties after the race - which also gave Robert Kubica his first point back in F1 and Williams' first of the season.
An unexpected top-10 from the German GP
1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
3. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso
4. Lance Stroll, Racing Point
5. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
6. Alex Albon, Toro Rosso
7. Romain Grosjean, Haas
8. Kevin Magnussen, Haas
9. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
10. Robert Kubica, Williams
Hamilton, Leclerc and Bottas rue mistakes
Hamilton, the pole-sitter, appeared in control for much of the afternoon but his race quickly turned into a nightmare.
After following his rivals into the pits on slick tyres on a drying, but still damp, track, Hamilton ran wide into the barriers from the lead, breaking a front wing, before collecting a penalty for a pit-lane infringement.
He spun later in the race and was lucky to finish with two points in ninth, as only 13 cars finished a remarkable race.
"Probably the worst day in the office for a long time," Hamilton admitted to Sky F1.
Hamilton's first mistake came just after Leclerc's at the same corner, and the Monegasque was one of many drivers who will also be looking back at an opportunity missed.
After reaping the benefits from a Virtual Safety Car following Lando Norris' retirement, Leclerc found himself up in second behind Hamilton after starting 10th. But just as he was putting the pressure on, the young Ferrari driver ran wide, where run-off area standing water made it impossible to find grip on slicks, and he crashed into the barriers.
That led to a Safety Car and many pit-stops, with intermediates back on, and Nico Hulkenberg, without a podium in his F1 career, was suddenly second but soon after being passed by both Mercedes, he crashed out at the same corner as Leclerc.
Another shunt, another Safety Car, and just as the track was drying out, with the pecking order looking more settled, Bottas had a huge shunt at Turn One, where Hamilton had just spun.
The Finn was fourth, behind Kvyat and Stroll, when he made that critical error.
Pierre Gasly also had an afternoon to forget, making several mistakes throughout the race and he was outshone in wheel-to-wheel combat by the two Toro Rossos before colliding with Alex Albon in the closing stages.
Magic Max, super Seb and the comeback kid
Verstappen's performance was sensational and the Dutchman justified his reputation as a wet-weather master.
He had a poor getaway from second of the grid and was frustrated by the Mercedes in the opening stages but, while he had one scary spin on medium tyres, the Red Bull driver wasn't troubled by the changing conditions afterwards and appeared comfortable in the car once taking the lead.
And there were plenty of other credible candidates for Driver of the Day.
It was redemption day for Vettel at his home grand prix after his devastating crash last year.
The four-time world champion made good early ground after starting at the back of the grid and, although not in contention for much of the race, Vettel enjoyed a super surge following the Bottas-enforced final Safety Car.
Vettel, who like Verstappen had five pit-stops, overtook the impressive Sainz, Stroll and Kvyat in the final six laps.
Kvyat also deserves immense credit - not just for his third career podium and Toro Rosso's first since Vettel's win more than a decade ago - but also because his first child was born on Saturday evening.
What a way to celebrate.
"It was a rollercoaster, a bit like my whole career," admitted the Russian, previously axed by Red Bull.
How a crazy German GP unfolded
Lap 1: Every driver starts on wet tyres and Hamilton keeps the lead, while Verstappen drops back to fourth before overtaking Raikkonen. Leclerc and Vettel enjoy strong starts
Lap 3: Perez spin at Turn Three leads to Safety Car, and drivers swap wets for intermediates
Lap 13: Ricciardo suffers Renault engine failure and his stoppage leads to Virtual Safety Car. Leclerc and Hulkenberg stop for fresh inters and enjoy speed advantage on rivals
Lap 23: Track drying and Magnussen is first driver to pit for slicks. Vettel follows him onto softs one lap later.
Lap 26: Verstappen, frustrated behind Hamilton and Bottas, pits for mediums and soon after Bottas does the same
Lap 27: Norris retires from the race and that leads to another VSC - Leclerc pits for softs and is up to second behind Hamilton but drivers struggles for grip on slicks and Ferrari crashes into the barriers at the final corner, which leads to another Safety Car
Lap 29: Hamilton also struggling from the lead and he loses control of Mercedes at same corner as Leclerc, losing a front wing after hitting the barriers. He immediately pits but Mercedes weren't ready and it's a 50-second stop. Every driver is back onto intermediates
Lap 30: Verstappen now leads ahead of Hulkenberg, who benefits from not pitting for slicks at all. Hamilton under investigation for being the wrong side of the bollard at pit entry and is later handed a five-second penalty
Lap 33: Race restarts and Hamilton is soon ahead of Albon into fourth, while both Hamilton and Bottas get ahead of Hulkenberg to make it a Red Bull-Mercedes-Mercedes top three
Lap 40: Hulkenberg crashes at final corner hot-spot to lead to a third Safety Car. Verstappen pits for fresh intermediates but stays ahead of Mercs
Lap 47: Drivers pit for slicks, but Hamilton stays out on intermediates
Lap 48: Hamilton, Raikkonen and Vettel then come in for softs, but Hamilton serves his 5s penalty and emerges out on track down in 12th. Stroll momentarily leads before Verstappen overtakes him.
Lap 50: Kvyat ahead of Stroll and impressing in the Toro Rosso
Lap 53: Hamilton spins at Turn One, then pits again and is behind the Williams drivers
Lap 57: Bottas crashes at Turn One, leading to a fourth Safety Car
Vettel rises from fifth to second in the closing laps, while Gasly is forced to retire after hitting Albon in the Toro Rosso.
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