The rain did make for an amazing race in Germany. Few could have foreseen what unfold in front of us at Hockenheim. This was the German Grand Prix:
It was hot, very hot with air temperatures in the mid to upper 30's ℃. 20 minutes into the session saw the first red flag, Kevin Magnussen stopped just before the Sachs curve with a technical issue, and after about eight minutes with no action, cars came back to the track. As expected, Mercedes dominated the session setting fastest lap times time after time, but then Bottas crashed at Sachs curve with only 90 seconds to go. At the end it was Sebastian Vettel who set fastest lap with Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, and Max Verstappen not too far behind.
A lot hotter than first practice with over 40℃ air temperature, and above 50℃ track temperature! Teams started testing hard compound tires (whites) during the first half of the session, changing to mediums (yellows) and softs (reds) by mid-session, doing some qualifying simulations for around 20 minutes, and spent the rest of FP2 on race simulations. With 15 minutes left in the session, Pierre Gasly crashed heavily destroying the right-hand side of the car on the final turn, and bringing out a red flag while his RB15 was being recovered. Charles Leclerc set the fastest lap of the day, a 1:13.449, ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the other Ferrari, and Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes.
Saturday was way cooler than on Friday, with air temperature in the mid to upper 20's and track temperature around 35 ℃. Mercedes continued their 125th anniversary celebrations with all crew dressed in 30's style clothes. Now as for the practice, there was not much action for the first 15 minutes of the 1-hour session with only a few cars doing installation laps. With 40 minutes left into the session, Charles Leclerc did the first lap under 1:13 minutes, a 1:12.736. Times continued dropping, but at the end it was Leclerc, Verstappen, and Vettel the top three.
Session started with Vettel reported a loss of power and the team went on to work. Turned out to a turbo failure, and for the first time since Malaysia 2017, could not go through to Q2. He will start last his home Grand Prix. Out were Norris, Albon, Russel, Kubica, and Sebastian Vettel.
Now it was Max Verstappen's turn to have engine related problem. He reported a power loss and was asked to pit, and with a bit more than four minutes remaining, he went out on the track, and did the fourth fastest time, getting him into Q3. Out were Giovinazzi, Magnussen, Ricciardo, Kvyat, and Stroll. 0.033 of a second separated from 8th to 13th places, talk about tight!
Drama continued at Ferrari as the mechanics worked frantically now on Leclerc's car to no avail. Leclerc starts the race in 10th. Meanwhile, Hamilton set a 1:11.767 for provisional pole, with Verstappen just behind, and that's how it ended, another Pole Position for Lewis Hamilton with Max Verstappen alongside, Valteri Bottas third, followed by Gasly, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Sainz, Perez, Hulkenberg, and Leclerc.
The day was very different from the previous ones with lots of rain. Cars came into the grid with full wets (blue) and at 14:10 the Safety Car lead the pack for several formation laps to clear the standing water on track and after four laps the race started as usual in F1, a standing start, albeit a three laps shorter race. But after three laps (of 64), Sergio Perez spun and crashed his Racing Point. Safety cars was deployed and most drivers came in for intermediates (green).
After 9 laps, Vettel was 7th after starting dead last at 20th. On lap 15, Daniel Ricciardo's engine let go with big cloud of smoke ending his race. A Virtual Safety Car was deployed while the Renault was recovered, and as with the safety car, some drivers came in to change tires. On lap 24, Vettel came in for brand new softs (reds) dropping from 7th to 11th. On lap 26, Verstappen came in for slicks (yellows) coming out in fourth. During the next few laps, many drivers came into the pits to change tires. On lap 28, Norris lost power and stopped on the side of the road, another VSC, and a 'free' stop for Leclerc, who came in and out in second place. but trying to undercut Hamilton while he was in the pits, lost traction and crashed out of the race , bringing out the safety car. Then Hamilton crashed, losing the front wing on his W10, came into the pits but they where not ready for him, loosing a lot of time. When things settled, it was Verstappen from Hulkenberg and Bottas. The re-start saw a brand new race, spiced by a 5-second time penalty to Hamilton for coming into the pits on the wrong side of the bollard. Lots of action on track.
On lap 41, it was Nico Hulkenberg who ended in the barrier. Yet another safety car. Verstappen came it for new inters, as did Vettel. By lap 48, many came in for new slicks and it was Lance Stroll leading the German Grand Prix! Although for a very short while as Verstappen passed him for the lead. Hamilton went from bad to worst as he lost the back of his W10 slightly hitting the barrier on turn 1, loosing yet more time in 13th place. On lap 57 it was Valtteri Bottas who spun into the barriers at turn 17 crashing hard. Another safety car. On lap 63, Pierre Gasly crashed into the back of Albon, ending his race. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel passed Kvyat for second. and after an EPIC German Grand Prix it is Max Verstappen on top of the podium with Sebastian Vettel from 20th to second, and Daniil Kvyat completing the podium.
About four hours after the race, the stewards decided to penaliza Alfa Romeo for a breach of regulations regarding driver aids committed during the formation laps to aid the start of the race, 30 seconds were added to both Alfa drivers, dropping from 7th (Kimi) and 8th (Gio) to 12th and 13th, advancing Grosjean to 7th, Magnussen to 8th, Hamilton to 9th and Kubica to 10th.
And people still thinks F1 is boring... yeah, right…