Max Verstappen wins German F1 grand prix
Max scored an incredible seventh career win in an incident-packed, rain-affected German Grand Prix that saw Mercedes fail to make the podium for the first time in a year, Sebastian Vettel climb from last to second and Daniil Kvyat take Toro Rosso's first podium finish in 11 years.
With a wet start in prospect following steady rain in the 90 minutes before the race start, it was decided that the field would complete four formation laps in order to assess the conditions and disperse any standing water.
But when the lights went out at the start of the now 64-lap race, both Max and Pierre got away poorly and both were immediately swamped by rivals. Max dropped to fourth behind the Mercedes cars of race leader Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas and the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Räikkönen. Pierre, meanwhile, dropped to eighth place.
Max was swiftly past Räikkönen and set off in pursuit of Bottas, but at the start of lap two the race was suddenly neutralised when the conditions claimed their first victim. Racing Point's Sergio Pérez lost control as he headed towards the stadium section and after he slid into the trackside wall, the safety car was deployed.
Sebastian Vettel, already to P12 after a good start, was the first to react and the Ferrari driver dived into the pits for intermediate tyres.
The leaders also took the opportunity to pit and when the inters had been bolted on and the order shook out Hamilton led from Bottas, Haas' Kevin Magnussen (who had not pitted) and Max.
For Pierre, though, the SC period, in which he also took on intermediate tyres, was not successful and he dropped to the back of the field, taking up P18 behind the safety car.
When the SC left the track at the end of lap four, Max immediately breezed past Magnussen and began to close in on Bottas. Pierre too made the most of the re-start and he was soon up to P14.
It was Vettel, though, who profited most and when the German eased past the fading Magnussen he found himself in seventh place and hunting down Räikkönen.
With light rain continuing to fall and with little chance of making a move to slick tyres, the race then settled somewhat. On lap 21 Magnussen became the first driver to make the switch to slicks, with the Haas man taking on soft tyres. Vettel followed suit and then, on lap 25, Max pitted, taking on medium tyres.
That sparked a general move to slick rubber, but as the field gambled on the quicker tyres, the rain actually began to intensify and on lap 27 Charles Leclerc slid off track at the final corner, beaching his Ferrari and bringing out the safety car again.
The field returned to the pit lane to head back to intermediate tyres. Hamilton's switch was enforced, however. The race leader lost control in the same place as Leclerc and slid into the barrier. The Briton managed to avoid a terminal impact but having sustained front wing damage he crawled out of the gravel trap and crossed the track to the pit entry.
Unprepared, Mercedes' mechanics had no intermediates ready and Hamilton's stop for repairs and fresh tyres took over a minute to complete. It would prove a costly mistake. The delay dropped Hamilton to fifth. And when Bottas pitted for inters, Max claimed the race lead behind the safety car.
There was more woe for Hamilton soon after. In crossing the track to the pits after his off he had gone in on the wrong side of the bollard at the pit entrance. The offence earned the champion a five-second time penalty.
When racing resumed on lap 33, Max powered away from second-placed Nico Hulkenberg and quickly opened up a five-second gap to the German. Bottas and Hamilton were soon past Hulkenberg but the gap from the lead Mercedes to the Red Bull stood at nine seconds.
However, Max's advantage was soon erased. On lap 40 Hulkenberg also went off in the final corner and with his Renault deep in the gravel the safety car was once again deployed.
During the cautionary period the conditions began to steadily improve and when racing resumed on lap 46, a flurry of pit stops immediately followed as drivers looked to exploit the improving conditions and take on slick tyres.
Max was first in, at the end of lap 46, and the race leader switched to soft compound tyres.
Hamilton, too, pitted during the third safety car phase and also took his time penalty during the stop. He emerged in P11.
At the front, after the stops had taken their effect, Max led from unlikely podium contenders Lance Stroll of Racing Point and Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat. Bottas lay fourth ahead of McLaren's Carlos Sainz and Vettel.
On lap 51, Kvyat made a bid for a Honda-powered one-two finish, the Russian powering past Stroll to claim second place.
Behind them, though, Bottas was beginning to apply pressure and the expectation was that Max would have the Mercedes driver for company in the closing stages.
It wasn't to be, though. On lap 57 Bottas carried too much speed into turn one and the Mercedes driver lost control on the exit of the corner, slid left into the gravel trap and hit the barrier hard. With Hamilton in P11 it would eventually mean that Mercedes would miss out on the podium for the first time since last year's Austrian GP.
Bottas' crash brought out the safety car for the fourth time but once again Max was in control and when racing resumed on lap 60 he simply powered away from Kvyat. In the final few laps, as Max managed the gap, it was Vettel who made the biggest moves. The Ferrari driver powered past Sainz as if the McLaren wasn't there into Turn 6 on lap 60.
On lap 63 Pierre went for the overtake on Albon and as the Frenchman went to the right of the Toro driver, in turn so did Albon to defend. However, Pierre failed to react and collided with him, which in turn put an end to Pierre's race, forcing him to retire.
Back at the front, Vettel in the Ferrari kept up his push as Stroll and Kvyat were dismissed over the following two laps before settling into P2 on the final lap, having climbed from dead last at the start.
There was no denying Max though and the Red Bull driver sent the huge Dutch contingent in the grandstands wild as he crossed the line to take his seventh career win and Team's 61st.
Behind Vettel, Kvyat hung on to claim his third career podium finish and Toro Rosso's first podium finish since Vettel won the 2008 Italian Grand Prix for the team. Fourth place went to Stroll, with the Canadian driver finishing ahead of Sainz and the second Toro Rosso of Alex Albon.
The Alfa Romeos of Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi finished the race in seventh and eighth places but after the race both were handed 10-second stop and go penalties due to issues over the team's clutch torque application at the race start.
The ruling meant that Haas' Romain Grosjean and Kevin Masgnussen took seventh and eighth places respectively, while Hamilton jumped to ninth place to maintain a 23-race long record of points finishes stretching back to last year's British Grand Prix.
The final point on offer thus went to Williams' Robert Kubica. The point is Williams first since last year's Italian Grand Prix and Kubica's first since the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
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