Verstappen avoids chaos to win safety car-laden German GP

Max Verstappen wins, while Sebastian Vettel and Daniil Kvyat complete the podium at an eventful German GP

Max Verstappen is celebrating his second win of the 2019 Formula 1 season after avoiding the carnage of an incident-packed wet race at the Hockenheimring, which saw neither Mercedes driver finish in the points.

Sebastian Vettel recovered from a disastrous qualifying to come from the back of the grid to take second, while Daniil Kvyat completed the top three after finding himself on the right tyre at the right time, giving the Toro Rosso team their second ever podium.

The safety car led the pack off the grid for an extended formation lap period, giving the stewards a chance to assess the conditions, deciding on a standing start after three circuits of the Hockenheimring.

Both Red Bull drivers had poor starts, allowing Kimi Raikkonen to jump up to third, while Vettel gained six places in the opening couple of corners after starting from the back of the grid.

The safety car was back out just a couple of laps into the race as Sergio Perez lost the rear of his Racing Point, slamming into the wall. That triggered a mass dash to the pits for intermediate tyres, with the majority of the field switching to the green-striped tyre.

In a packed pitlane, Romain Grosjean had to slam his brakes on to avoid colliding into the back of Charles Leclerc, but the stewards decided not to penalise the driver for the unsafe release, handing Ferrari a fine instead.

Daniel Ricciardo became the second retirement when his Renault’s engine let go, resulting in a virtual safety car period, allowing Leclerc and Nico Hulkenberg to both make cheap pitstops for fresher intermediates as they sought to close to gap to the top three on newer tyres.

Carlos Sainz’s hopes of good finish appeared to have been dealt a blow when the Spaniard lost the rear end of his McLaren, skidding across the runoff area and just regaining control in time to avoid the barrier, returning to the track in 15th place, but further incidents later in the race saw him recover well.

Despite the rain continuing to fall, Kevin Magnussen was the first driver to switch to slick tyres just over a third of the way into the race. Vettel soon followed while Verstappen was the first driver to go onto the medium compound, but the Dutch driver seemed to struggle, spinning after returning to the track.

Lando Norris suffered a loss of power after he changed on to slick tyres, resulting in a further VSC period, which triggered another round of pitstops. Leclerc was among those to come in, but lost control on his outlap and skidded side-on into the barrier. Despite his best efforts, the Monegasque driver’s car was beached in the gravel, forcing another full safety car.

There was more drama with the safety car back out though as Hamilton, having just been in for fresh softs, ran wide almost identically to Leclerc. The reigning champion managed to keep his Mercedes moving, but his broken front wing forced him to come straight back into the pitlane. The mechanics weren’t ready for him, resulting in a long stop as they struggled to find the right tyres to change him back onto inters and repair the damage at the front of the car.

Hamilton’s misery was compounded as his late lunge for the pitlane saw him enter the wrong side of the pit entry bollard, resulting in a five-second time penalty, while he was further investigated for driving too slowly behind the safety car.

Hulkenberg had managed to avoid most of the carnage to find himself running second after Hamilton’s off, but was soon passed by both of the Mercedes cars after the safety car came in, before losing control and locking up his tyres, sending him into the barriers and leading to another safety car.

This time, it was Lance Stroll who was the first to look back to the slick tyres, and was the only driver to do so before the safety car came in, promoting him from the back of the field to leader once the rest of the pack came in for new tyres. Verstappen managed to overtake the Canadian once he was on new soft tyres, while Kvyat completed the top three, as the Toro Rosso appeared to suit the drying conditions. Kvyat’s pace continued to look good, and he cruised past Stroll to sit second.

Hamilton’s hopes of a podium ended when he made another pitstop, as he had to serve his 5-second time penalty in the pitlane, dropping him outside the top 10 before he spun a few laps later, lightly brushing the barrier and leaving him ahead of only the Williams duo, while another pitstop dropped him to the back of the field.

There were tensions between the two Haas drivers as they scrapped over the final points positions, banging wheels as Magnussen forced his way past his teammate, resulting in both blaming the other over the radio.

Safety car driver Bernd Maylander was in action again with seven laps left to go as Bottas ran across a damp kerb, sending his Mercedes spinning across the gravel and into the wall, having been battling with Stroll for the final spot on the podium.

Fifth as the safety car came in with four laps remaining, Vettel made quick work of Sainz to gain a place before looking to challenge Stroll for third. He soon moved ahead of the Racing Point before closing the gap to Kvyat, going around the outside of the Toro Rosso to take second on the penultimate lap.

Pierre Gasly went wheel to wheel with Alexander Albon in the final laps as they fought for sixth, but the Red Bull driver struck the back of the Thai racer, leaving the Frenchman with a puncture and ending his race.

Hamilton finished just outside the points, managing the get ahead of the Williams drivers late on, but a number of drivers remain under investigation due to the incidents during the race, including Hamilton, the Haas drivers, Albon and Gasly.

Provisional result:

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

3. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)

4. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)

5. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)

6. Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso)

7. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

8. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)

9. Romain Grosjean (Haas)

10. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

11. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

12. Robert Kubica (Williams)

13. George Russell (Williams)


Pierre Gasly (Red Bull)

Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

Lando Norris (McLaren)

Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)

Sergio Perez (Racing Point)

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