German GP: Of survival and being in the right place at the right time

Dutchman Max Verstappen raced to his second title of the season and Sebastian Vettel came from being last on the grid to finish second on the podium in a race that had crashes, dramatic upsets and a whole lot of rain.

Published : Jul 29, 2019 21:04 IST , Hockenheim (Germany)

Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates with his mechanics after winning the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates with his mechanics after winning the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates with his mechanics after winning the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim.

That has got to be the most crazy Grand Prix since Canada in 2011! As I write this column, I’m genuinely struggling to remember most of the incidents in that race. Every single driver had a story to tell from this German GP, of either euphoria or disappointment – there is no in between.

Today was all about choosing the right tyre at the right time and being opportunistic. Kevin Magnussen chose the right moment to go on to slicks early in the race but at the end it was Lance Stroll and Daniil Kvyat who were able to get onto the slick tyres at exactly the right moment for the final run to the flag. That was a gamble worth taking for people outside the top 10 and while it worked out for those guys perfectly, there was chaos everywhere else.

READ : Verstappen wins chaotic German GP after Hamilton crash

Through it all came Max Verstappen who drove superbly to take his second win of the season. It wasn’t a perfect race by the Dutchman, but despite a terrible start and a mini spin on his first lap out on slicks, he managed to navigate his way through all those tricky tyre choices and deploy his superb car control to take victory.

On a day where Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc and so many others got it wrong, Max proved yet again that he is ready to be a World Championship contender if he gets a car capable to fight for it. He’s a special talent and Red Bull and Honda will be doing everything possible to ensure that he doesn’t end up in another team any time soon.

Sebastian Vettel used all of his experience and lessons learned from last year to keep it together and just pick his way through the pack from last on the grid. I was really pleased for Seb because he’s had a tough run of races recently and not getting to qualify in front of his home crowd was a huge disappointment. His podium finish was very popular with the crowd and helped to cheer Ferrari up a little bit after the nightmare that was Saturday.

Daniil Kvyat’s podium has got to be the feel-good story of the year so far! He’s fought very hard to get back to Formula 1 and less than 24 hours after he became a father for the first time, he’s managed to cement his place back in Formula 1 with a superb podium. Toro Rosso were in a fortunate position to be able to bring him in for new tyres at the end but he made good use of them with some strong pace and fully deserved his podium. I think his partner Kelly Piquet will forgive him for missing the birth of their daughter!

The Hockenheimring track

Lance Stroll and Carlos Sainz also had good days – the latter recovering from a spin into the gravel to amazingly drag himself back into the top five. For Stroll, that result underlined that his race pace is strong and he just needs to get on top of Qualifying. Racing Point will be delighted that their upgraded car delivered them a good step forward in performance and they will certainly be in the fight to be the leader of the midfield.

READ : Wet, wet, Vett! Home favourite capitalises on Hockenheim drama

From the glory to the dejected – Mercedes had a home race to forget. Lewis made a costly error at the penultimate corner which not only cost him but also Valtteri because when he subsequently came into the pits, the team was ready for Bottas. That meant that the Finn had to stay out for another lap costing him time to Verstappen and the team also had to scramble to swap from Valtteri’s tyres to Lewis’ while also changing the front wing. Both drivers subsequently made very similar errors at turn 1 which ended Valtteri’s day and pretty much ruled Lewis out of contention.

Poor Nico Hulkenberg had done a great job to get himself into a very strong position but again on a day when there was an opportunity for a podium, he made a costly error that put him in the wall. Nico is a very good racing driver who I’ve known for many years. I just don’t know how or why every time there’s some low hanging fruit, it just doesn’t happen for him. Think of all the times Perez or Stroll or even Kvyat today got a podium by surviving and being in the right place at the right time and it just never seems to happen with Nico.

Seeing the Haas drivers run into each other again was unbelievable. It’s amazing how they manage to run into each other all the time and not into anyone else! I feel sorry for Guenther Steiner, Gene Haas and the team because they’re already having a tough time in terms of their race pace. Their car really wasn’t fast on Sunday again, but they had both of them in the points so why the drivers chose to take risks and potentially put them both out of the race is just extraordinary. There just seems to be a lack of respect between the drivers and I’m not sure what else poor old Guenther can say to fix it.

In between the reliability dramas of Qualifying and the chaos of the race on Sunday, it was clear that all three teams were competitive this weekend. They seem to have different strengths but the Hockenheimring seemed to have something for everyone – the Mercedes cars are fast in the medium and slow speed corners but slower on the straight, the Red Bull is getting stronger in the corners now and the Ferrari has retained its straight-line advantage. Temperature does seem to be very critical so if we have a hot weekend in Budapest, all three teams should be in the fight again. Otherwise, I would still expect to see Max right up there fighting the Mercs with Ferrari close behind!

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