Rate the Race and Driver of the Weekend- Round 11, Hockenheim, Germany 2018.
Mean reader score: 8.12 Ranked 5/11 races so far.
Well, well well, the game of ping pong at the top of the WDC continued again this week, with Hamilton taking the top spot from Vettel for the third time this year. Vettel went into the race (presumably) on a high from the ‘unexpected’ win at (one of) Hamilton’s home track(s), Silverstone, with an eight point lead over his rival.
Unlike the last race here at Vettel’s home track (he was born 28 miles away) this one scored 8.12 ranking it fifth of this season so far. The 2016 race was described as a ‘borefest’ and was a bit processional, scoring 5.37. Not so 2018, or at least not for the last 15 or so laps.
Ricciardo opted to take engine penalties this week rather than next, where overtaking would be more difficult (bad move as he was the first to retire with power problems, meaning he may have to take another penalty next week) therefore he was not in the running for pole.
Bottas was briefly the pole sitter until it was snatched in a new lap record time of 1:11.212 by Vettel, Raikkonen took P3 and Verstappen P4. The race looked as if could have been a repeat of the 2016 (except with Vettel leading rather than Hamilton) but little did we know what nature had in store to liven up this race.
Hulkenberg came home fifth for Renault bagging ten valuable points, matched by the combined ten of Perez and Ocon, coming in seventh and eighth, with Red Bull (Verstappen), Hass (Grosjean), Sauber (Ericsson, not Leclerc) and STR (Hartley) all finishing in the points.
As is often the case, the weather played its part as most teams played the weather game, waiting for the rain to start before pitting for fresh tyres. It did look as if it was all going Vettel’s way but unbeknown to him, Hamilton had been praying to be ‘the best version of himself he could be’
Driver of the Weekend: Lewis Hamilton, 62.50% of reader vote
Rumours abounded regarding Hamilton’s health which were then immediately denied prior to Saturday’s qualifying. Hamilton did look out of sorts but looked in fine fettle as he tried to push his beleaguered car back to the pits during Q1.
Alas, his 76th pole was not to be, as, having made it to Q2 Lewis took no further part in qualifying and started the race from P14, which turned out to quite advantageous, tyre-wise.
While his rivals started on the ultrasoft tyres Lewis started on softs, giving him the option to go deep into the race whilst waiting for the rain to make an appearance, which it did, but not until he had switched to Ultras on lap 42.
At a rate of approximately one position per lap, he made his way through the field from P14 to P6. Daniel Ricciardo retired but that was as naught compared to what happened next: his miracle happened….the rain came down and Vettel spun off, bringing out the safety car, which caused a bit of a cerfuffle in the pits, allowing Lewis to take the lead by not pitting whilst his opponents crawled down the pit lane.
On the restart Bottas gave us some wheel to wheel action as he tried to reclaim P1 from Lewis, but that was it – he was only given one chance before being told to ‘hold position’, which he did until the end of the race.
And so it came to pass Lewis Hamilton took his 66th career win from the lowest starting point of his illustrious career. He’s now 17 points ahead of Vettel in the driver standings and Mercedes are now eight points ahead of Ferrari in the constructor championship.
And he got away with a reprimand for his transgression on entering the pit lane and then exiting via the same route, taking a short cut across the grass, avoiding a five second penalty which would have placed him in P2 with only a ten point lead in the WDC….. well done Lewis!