The eleventh round of the Formula 1 Championship takes place in Hockenheim, Germany. From the English expanses with sovereign Lewis Hamilton we move to the German woods, where Sebastian Vettel is the master. Despite the familiar and cozy area, the last Grand Prix run on this track was crucial to the 2018 title fight, mortifying the home idol.
"I can't wait to get on track in Hockenheim: I'll certainly have to have a better race than last year. The atmosphere is always phenomenal and the crowd great, with so many beautiful German flags to be seen all along the circuit. As for the track, it seems pretty simple at first glance. But especially the last part is as beautiful as it is technical, especially the Motordrom. There you can find a lot of fans and there are the most insidious points of the circuit. Having said that, turn 1 is also challenging, I would say one of the most complex on the track, because it's very fast and ends before you know it. It has to be approached perfectly and it is important to feel comfortable with the car in order to start accelerating as soon as possible so as to maximize speed for the subsequent sectors of the track. It is a special circuit for me. How do I get there? It's been a fairly quiet, linear preparation, I really like this place, it's close to my home, and I have great memories. Last year too, even if the final result was not as good, the weekend was fantastic in terms of enthusiasm, hopefully we can experience something similar. Winning would be special, last year we came close, let's see how it goes now. We're in a bit of a worse position but even in recent races we've been strong in both qualifying and the race".
Every driver wants to win in front of their home crowd and for Vettel it has been possible in the past, but winning at home, in front of the German fans, driving a Ferrari is the next step. The 2018 Championship had started with a trail of victories for Vettel: Australia, Bahrain, Canada and finally in Great Britain. After years of Mercedes domination, the light at the end of the tunnel was visible, but almost on purpose, after the great success at Silverstone, the German was punished at home. More rainy than the English sky can only be the German one and Vettel is the victim of a mistake that mortifies his chance to win. With this defeat begins for him a long trail of mistakes, which seems to have accompanied him until now. The last victory dates back to the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix, eleven months ago. The reality that lives now Ferrari and Vettel is much more cruel: a constant pursuit of Mercedes. The latest mistake is precisely the one made in Great Britain, at Silverstone, where the German crashed into Verstappen thus ruining his own race and that of the Dutchman. There is no comparison, to get to the level of Mercedes there is still a lot of work to do.
"We are not as competitive as we would like to be. There have been times when things went very well and others when we had difficulties, but it's normal, during the season you race on different tracks with different characteristics and sometimes the car gives you more pleasant sensations and others less so. After the first races, however, we managed to get a pretty clear picture of what is missing in terms of performance compared to the winter tests and we managed to make some progress. Mercedes have an advantage over everyone, it's quite clear, a bit like in previous years they seem to struggle where the wear and tire degradation is a bit high, like in Austria, but as pure speed they remain our reference point. Between us and Red Bull the battle has been sometimes closer, sometimes we have been in front and sometimes we have been behind, but the goal is to fight for victories and to do that you have to be at the same level or better than Mercedes".
Leclerc's excellent results and Binotto's great esteem for him shift the focus even more on the Vettel situation. In the paddock there is often talk of his future, not only in Ferrari, but also in Formula 1. Vettel replies:
"I don't know, it's quite useless to think about it now. I don't know how long I'll be in the circus, I love racing, Formula 1 provides the fastest cars and the joy I feel in driving them is unchanged, it's what I've always felt. The motivation is also very high: I want to hit the target I set myself with Ferrari. Do I feel the burden of a Ferrari that hasn't won the title for years? It's not a burden, it's a privilege to go on track and race with Ferrari. My mission and goal, as well as for the team, is to return to a winning streak: if we succeed consistently then there will be many more chances to return to win the championship".
Rumors of retirement certainly don't ease the pressure on Vettel.
"Because when you drive a Ferrari, it's normal to be under scrutiny every day and then I haven't won for almost a year, I'm the first to question myself, to be critical of myself, to have no pity for my mistakes, the thought of others doesn't bother me at all".
For the German, a confidence booster would be useful, just enough to give him the charge to get back to winning, a victory at home would be perfect. For now the weather seems to be on his side, temperatures have exceeded 40 °C throughout the day on Thursday, numbers against Mercedes because of their tire degradation problem.
"I would like to win on Sunday, I'm not saying I need it at all costs, I would like it, for my morale, for the team. It would be nice to triumph with so many people around who know you. You have to be realistic, we're not favorites, but we have a chance and we'll do everything to take advantage of it".
Leclerc, after his success in Great Britain, is also confident of a victory, his first:
"In Silverstone it was a very fun race to experience in the cockpit, we hope we can repeat this in Germany and be in a position to fight for victory. I am happy to be racing in Hockenheim. During the last race weekends together with the team we have always done a good job in qualifying. Now we have to concentrate more on the race pace because this is the aspect in which we have been struggling lately. The track is a nice mix of different corners and fast straights. What do I expect from the second half of the season? The first victory in my career and the possibility to reach the level of Mercedes. As for the dream, it's easy: to become World Champion soon".
Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto adds:
"The German Grand Prix for us is first and foremost Sebastian's home race. This is why we are particularly keen to do well at Hockenheim, especially after last year's missed opportunity to end a weekend in which our performances were at a high level. For this race there are no particular novelties but from the analysis of the British Grand Prix we have drawn useful information to know the car better".
At Hockenheim, inside the paddock Max Verstappen is asked about his reaction, very measured, towards Sebastian Vettel at Silverstone, on the occasion of the British Grand Prix. The Dutch driver's response is eloquent:
"He told me he made a mistake when he came to me at the end of the race. Certainly I was disappointed not to have reached the podium, but what can I say? It happens. I made a mistake in China against him and Sebastian reacted in a very calm way. These are things that unfortunately happen. Racing is also this. You prefer it not to happen, but sometimes it happens".
In defense of Vettel runs the friend-adversary Lewis Hamilton, who declares:
"In general I don't spend a lot of time thinking about Sebastian. However, I don't think that anything really happened to him. Of course, he and Ferrari have some problems. And also a young teammate who is doing a good job. It's clearly not an easy moment for him. But we're still talking about a four-time world champion, people tend to forget that. I still consider him a formidable opponent. But where is the respect for Vettel? I remain convinced that he will soon put the difficult moments behind him and soon show what he can do".
Attention is not only focused on Vettel, being in Germany there is another big name that cannot not be mentioned: Mick Schumacher, the young German driver racing in Formula 2. The drivers' market is open and in full swing, people are starting to point their eyes towards the new emerging drivers and among these the one of Schumacher stands out, champion in Formula 3 and now in Formula 2, besides having entered the Ferrari Driver Academy. For his home Grand Prix the young German driver will have the opportunity to drive the F2004, with which his father won his seventh World Title. Vettel leaves a few words on the subject:
"It is crucial that Mick is given the time he needs and he should be judged as everyone is judged, it would not be fair to measure his performance by comparing him to his father, they are different eras and races. The Schumacher name is known by everyone in Germany and if one day Mick could enter Formula One it would be a huge boost for German sport. He's a very smart guy, we have our fingers crossed for him. There were more Germans in Formula 1 once, but they are cycles. I repeat, we hope he has a chance one day".
The celebrations will also involve Mercedes: this is also their home Grand Prix, and in honor of the 125 years since the first race held in motorsport, and the 200 Grand Prix held in Formula 1, the Anglo-German team sports a special livery. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff states:
"In 1894 the first ever race was run from Paris to Rouen and the winning car had an engine designed by Gottlieb Daimler. That was the start of a great motorsport tradition that continues to this day and we are incredibly proud to be writing the next chapter in that history. We will be racing in commemorative liveries to celebrate our history".
The W10, which will also be used in the German Grand Prix, has one flaw, an unequivocal Achilles heel: temperatures. When the outside air exceeds 28°C, the Anglo-German single-seaters begin to suffer, due to a non-optimal cooling system. On the weekend in the home country of the Stuttgart manufacturer, the team led by Toto Wolff hopes to score another one-two. But the heat could spoil the party: temperatures with peaks of 40 °C are expected in Baden-Württemberg over the weekend.
"High temperatures are expected over the weekend, which was an extreme challenge for us in Austria, so we have to be careful. In Hockenheim, as in Spielberg, the gaps between the different teams will be smaller. That's why we're staying on a low profile and continuing to work hard to get the best possible result. The British Grand Prix was a spectacular race and a great showcase for our sport. It was great to see our drivers battle it out on the track in the opening stint, they dueled hard but always did well. And it was great to bounce back from the poor performance in Austria with a one-two. Our next race is another home race for the team: Hockenheim is close to our headquarters in Stuttgart, so we're looking forward to seeing many members of the Mercedes family in the paddock and in the grandstands. This year's race is a very special event: we are the main sponsor of the race and it will be Mercedes' 200th Formula 1 start. We will also be celebrating an exceptional anniversary: 125 years of Motorsport".
In this regard, Mercedes - as well as Honda in the Japanese Grand Prix - will be the title sponsor of the German Grand Prix. Honda owns and promotes the Japanese track, but for the first time will display its logo as a sponsor of the race. In past years, Mercedes has helped the organization of the German race through the purchase of tickets, but Toto Wolff has always stated that it is not the manufacturer's task to intervene in support of this event. The sponsorship of the race, however, proved to be crucial for its inclusion in the 2019 calendar. the Grand Prix, however, is not expected to be reconfirmed for 2020, as confirmed by Georg Seiler, the organizer of the race to be held in Hockenheim:
"For 2020, it looks like there will be no German Grand Prix here. There will be twenty-one races, with Hanoi and Zandvoort being included and then two events having to go out. The candidates are us, Barcelona and Mexico. Last year we weren't that far from where we are now and we signed the contract for 2019 between September and October. There is a back door, but I see it as unlikely at the moment".
It's a great pity for Germany that, at the beginning of the 2000s, had a German driver winning everything and the interest of the German public for Formula 1 was at its highest. Today there is a German team winning everything but the public is scarce. How does Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff explain this change?
"I think there are two reasons, first of all the only team that has a whole nation behind it is Ferrari. Because of its history of course. It's something we aim for but it's a path that takes years if not decades. You have to stay in the sport for long years and grow your fan base. I really hope that we are laying the foundation today so that in twenty years we can have that status. But we have to be realistic and recognize that the public is passionate about the drivers, at least in Formula 1. We've had German drivers in Formula 1 who have dominated the championship, first Schumacher and then Vettel. These are cycles that are there in other sports as well. Just as it was in tennis at the time of Boris Becker and Steffi Graf, and now the interest in the sport in Germany has disappeared. Similarly in Spain, which is a different market, Formula 1 before the successes of Fernando Alonso had a very low popularity. It would take both factors: the continued presence in Formula 1 to allow us to build a solid fan base as a team, and having a German driver with great personality fighting for the world championship. These would be the ingredients to revive interest in Formula 1 in Germany".
In order to maintain a race in Germany, wouldn't it be worth trying to return to racing on historic circuits like the old Nürburgring or Hockenheim?
"There should always be a Formula 1 race in Germany which is a historically important country as is Hockenheim. If we went to race at the Nürburgring on the old Nordschleife the drivers would be enthusiastic but I think it's technically impossible because that track doesn't allow to have this kind of speed. We are all a bit nostalgic about the old Hockenheim track. I liked the old layout with the cars stealing each other's wake on the straights inside the forest, but this is the situation today. The track is great and so is the infrastructure. But there is a financial reality to deal with. The promoters of the Formula 1 championship have a responsibility to balance economic expediency with historical significance. For us, having a race in Germany is important, but it is up to those in charge of organizing Formula 1 to make the right choice".
Lewis Hamilton arrives at the eleventh race of the season at the top of the championship, with seven victories and a 39-point lead over his teammate, Valtteri Bottas. On the Hockenheim circuit, the Englishman has triumphed on three occasions (2008 in McLaren, 2016 and 2018 in Mercedes), taking just one pole position (2008, McLaren). The World Championship leader tackles many issues, starting with the superiority of the Anglo-German cars and ending with the young Verstappen and Leclerc.
"I have never had a first part of the championship as positive as this one. We can be very proud of it, but we have to keep the gas down and not give up. But my attitude hasn't changed, I deal with one race at a time, without thinking about the title. I want to focus on keeping the positive aspects - the speed in the race - and improve the less positive ones - my performance in qualifying. We have to keep an eye on the heat, it's very hot now, but I heard that Saturday and Sunday will be quite different. The Austria race showed that we have some difficulties, a design problem that we are working on".
And about youngsters Verstappen and Leclerc:
"The day will come when they will put me under pressure. Red Bull has taken a significant step forward thanks to the Honda engine improvements. Max is fantastic, he is very young but already has great experience. Leclerc has already reached a very high level, even though he is only in his second season. He will get stronger and stronger. Both will show a great performance. I'm ready to face them".
Verstappen himself is determined not to settle for a good performance, but aspires to higher levels:
"Closing the gap to Mercedes will be the biggest challenge. We want to win, so that's the goal we have to try to achieve. We are getting closer, but it's still not enough. However, we know that we are working hard to reach them. In the end, finishing second is always better than third, but we are here to win. For sure we want to stay ahead of Ferrari, but we want to stay ahead of Mercedes even more. At this time of the year we're trying to extract the maximum from the engine, having learned from what we did wrong at the beginning of the championship or didn't do so well compared to Mercedes and Ferrari. Hopefully next year we can fight for the win at every race".
For the German Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole supplier of tyres, is bringing C2, C3 and C4 compounds. Mario Isola, head of Formula 1 and car racing for Pirelli, says:
"Hockenheim is a not too familiar circuit for teams and drivers, as for several years it alternated with the Nurburgring to host the German Grand Prix, before disappearing from the calendar and only returning in 2018. However, it is a track without too many surprises, with fairly balanced loads on the tires. The only exception is the Motodrom sector, which is more stop-and-go in nature. Another aspect to consider is the different inclination of turn 12 and turn 13. Wear and degradation levels are generally low, and in the past there have also been quite long stints on the different compounds. As we saw last year, the weather here is quite variable and can therefore be a key element that can determine strategy".
The FIA reduces to two zones, compared to 2018, where the DRS can be used: the first zone is located between turns 1 and 2, with detection point placed before turn 1; the second zone is located along the Parabolika, the section between turn 4 and turn 6, with detection point established at the exit of turn 4. The third zone, introduced last season and established between the Südkurve and the Nordkurve (in practice along the finishing straight), has been abolished. This zone had been criticized by the drivers, in 2018, for safety reasons. The former Formula 1 driver Derek Warwick, is appointed assistant commissioner for the race. The Briton has already performed this function in the past; the last one at the Chinese Grand Prix.
The race direction will be forced to replace the lights of the start semaphore, after a bus hits the stand on Thursday, damaging them. For this Grand Prix, Racing Point introduces a new version of its single-seater, which features a new rear end. Modifications to the front of the car are announced for the Hungarian Grand Prix, while Mercedes, despite having homologated a new chassis, decides to face the race still with the bodywork used until now. The warm temperatures continue to characterize the day on Friday as well, where 50 °C of asphalt is recorded, favoring the pace of the Ferraris, who dominate in both free practice sessions.
"Hopefully this heat will continue. I like to sweat".
Says Sebastian Vettel jokingly. The first session sees the German Ferrari driver leading the timesheet with a lead of just over 0.2 seconds over Leclerc. Hamilton follows at 0.3 seconds, setting his own time on Medium compound tires. Nevertheless, the Mercedes suffers more from the temperatures, in particular Bottas who is more than 0.6 seconds from the first time and is fifth behind Verstappen. In addition, the Finnish driver ends the session off the track; an incident almost identical to Vettel's one of the year before, but he managed to avoid by few centimeters the contact with the barrier. Pierre Gasly had some vibration problems during the session, but still managed to secure sixth position. Sainz, Grosjean, Stroll and Ricciardo close the top ten, more than a second behind the leader.
Despite it was the first time on this circuit, McLaren rookie Lando Norris secures the twelfth time behind Perez and ahead of Kevin Magnussen, who during the session causes a red flag due to a problem with a sensor of his Haas, stopping in the stadium area. Even in the afternoon there is an eventful session: this time the best time is set by Leclerc, but it's still a Ferrari one-two with Vettel at more than 0.1 seconds. Hamilton follows the German at few thousandths in third position, while Bottas is still in trouble at 0.6 seconds. In Red Bull the problems are other: during his fast lap Verstappen has engine problems, but he secures anyway the fifth position, while his teammate is protagonist of an accident at the end of the session. Gasly destroys his car by crashing into the wall at the exit of the last corner, and finishes only fifteenth. The Frenchman comments on his day:
"It was a difficult day. We have made normal tests and then, during the free practice 2, we have had some problems that have prevented us to run well with the soft compound. Unfortunately, at the end of the session, I lost the car at the last corner and I ended up in the wall".
During free practice Ferrari shows to have a good pace, also facilitated by the high temperatures. The home driver, Sebastian Vettel, is the protagonist of the tests, despite a small mistake in the afternoon that leads him to flatten a wheel. The German driver states:
"I'm pretty happy, I think it was a good day. There have been some small mishaps that have prevented us from finding our rhythm and we have lost a little bit of time. I had a flat tire in the afternoon but overall the car felt good. There is still some margin to go faster, so this is good. Compared to Silverstone there is not much different. The car is more or less the same, I think it's a situation of track conditions and how we were able to interpret it. Hopefully we can continue like this. I don't know how much Mercedes and Red Bull had to compromise in terms of performance because of the heat. I think there is an impact on everyone. You saw how everyone was opening their cooling systems to the maximum. It would be nice to have a hot race but at the same time in the car it's harder even though I like to sweat. They say it won't be like today, but the weather will change overnight so a prediction on qualifying and the race is difficult. We have to understand which track we will find, if the asphalt will be wet or dry. We just have to hope for the sun".
Pressed on the questions regarding the German driver's performance, Ferrari's team principal Mattia Binotto continues to reiterate to the German broadcaster RTL his idea:
"It is true that Sebastian has made mistakes in the last few races, as happened at Silverstone. But I think he was driving well at Silverstone, as he did in Austria. So his race pace was good. Being very direct, clear and transparent. Telling him exactly that we expect more from him, telling him that probably he was not so performing in qualifying, even if the race pace was good enough. His strength has been in the race pace. I think he is aware of all this, he is very focused and relaxed. He wants to understand all the details to find out how to improve, he will find ways to improve things. Often the mistakes are not really such, because they are part of the fight on the track. Maybe currently Sebastian is simply overdriving, because he needs to compensate for the performance of the car. In general there is nothing wrong with what he is doing, obviously he will try to avoid mistakes, because he is just trying to be as fast as possible, to defend his position, to attack, it's all part of racing".
Vettel is not the only one hoping for sunshine and warm weather, in fact Charles Leclerc reiterates:
"The feeling with the car is good, although there is still work to do, as we struggle in some corners. The heat is helping us, let's hope it doesn't disappear. In the race simulation I felt good, I also changed my driving style to try some things. Mercedes will not be easy to beat, but we started well".
Differently - as expected - the Mercedes is conditioned by the strong heat, but fortunately for the Anglo-German team the forecast for the weekend gives possible rain, with a lowering of the temperatures. Lewis Hamilton comments on this:
"It was very hot and these tires don't like certain temperatures... You have to do a little bit slower launch laps and find a way to manage these tires in the best way, making them work in the right window. We had some problems with that, but that's how it is for everyone. We take comfort in knowing that if the temperatures drop, the situation should change dramatically. So what we saw today may not be as important for the rest of the weekend. I think, with different weather conditions, the data collected today will be pretty useless".
The Anglo-German team is responding to the high temperatures by bringing in a new cooling system, which Bottas says is better than the previous one:
"The steps forward have been there. If we had kept the cooling system we had in Austria, we would have suffered terribly. The conditions are a bit extreme, but that goes for everyone. In the third sector the tires get pretty hot, but our upgrades have allowed us to make decent long runs. I believe that the temperatures will drop in the next two days and this can only improve our competitiveness".
Very encouraging also the results obtained by the Racing Point drivers at the end of the second free practice session on Friday. Both manage to get into the top ten, with Stroll in seventh with a time of 1'14"268, and Perez in tenth who laps in 1'14"518. Sergio Perez states about it:
"It was a good day. I tested the new updates, and so did my teammate. It's difficult to make comparisons with the old components, especially with today's high temperatures, but we definitely made an improvement. I feel the car better and I think the direction we have taken has a lot of potential. We're still struggling a bit with the balance, so we'll have some work to do again tonight but generally speaking we can be satisfied with the level of competitiveness. I'm always careful not to draw conclusions after just one day, so we'll see what happens in qualifying".
Lance Stroll's statements are in line:
"I'm happy with the car. It's only the first few days, but we seem to have taken a step forward with these updates. Visually the car is very different and it's encouraging to be in the top ten at the end of the first session. It's only Friday and there's still a lot of work to do to carry this performance through Sunday. The temperatures are very high, but according to the forecast we should see some changes over the weekend".
Racing Point team principal Omar Szafnauer also expresses words of appreciation for the work done by the team:
"A busy Friday for the evaluation of the new bodywork. We had parts of the car arrive this morning and others will arrive in the night and I want to give credit to the whole team who worked hard to allow us to bring these updates quickly. The initial feedback from the drivers is positive and the data collected confirms their feelings. The question remains about tomorrow's weather conditions, where downpours are expected, which would make qualifying time interesting. In any case, we expect cooler conditions than today".
Despite the drop in temperatures, it is still the Ferrari that sets the best FP3 time. Leclerc sets a time of 1'12"380, although the potential of the car is not fully shown. Separating the two Ferraris is Max Verstappen, slower by just 0.168 seconds. The two Mercedes are only in fourth and sixth position, respectively with Bottas and Hamilton. the two, however, have mainly focused on making long runs on Soft tires, not worrying about making fast laps. Gasly too, after the accident the day before, did not excel and scored only the eighth time. For the French driver, an old chassis was fitted due to the damage sustained on Friday.
Grand Prix qualifying is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, 2019, with the weather giving rain. The weather factor could be crucial in determining the fate of the Grand Prix, which for now seems to be Ferrari's only concern, as the Maranello team has dominated all practice sessions. Mercedes is hoping for a repeat of last year, with a one-two on their home circuit. If this were to be the case, it would be the 81st victory for the Englishman, therefore only ten would be missing to equal Schumacher's record, a goal that is more than achievable considering the current championship trend.
Meanwhile, however, qualifying begins. Williams are the first to go on track, followed by Racing Point and McLaren. The track record belongs to Sebastian Vettel, set last year: 1'11"212. The times are still high to reach those of last year, since at the beginning of Q1 they still run on the pace of 1'13"0. The first one to drop below this level is Charles Leclerc, but in Ferrari an alarm bell goes off almost immediately. Vettel radios in that he has a power problem and returns to the pits before even starting his qualifying lap. In the meantime, his teammate is fighting for the first time with Verstappen.
With less than eight minutes to go before the end of Q1, the Ferrari mechanics work feverishly on the German's car, while the two Mercedes drivers take to the track without setting significant times: Bottas is fourth, Hamilton is only thirteenth. In third position we find Raikkonen, and with five minutes to go not only Vettel has not yet set his time, but Hamilton is in the elimination zone. The first twist of this weekend sees Sebastian Vettel get out of the car. The home driver, for the first time since the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix is out at Q1, while his direct rival moves up to third place. The drivers go for the last attempt: Albon, Norris, Kubica and Russell take to the track, with Giovinazzi at risk in 15th place.
Norris improves, but is immediately eliminated by Giovinazzi who moves up to eighth place. Magnussen is sixth, so the Italian slips one position. Shortly after Perez crosses the finishing line with the tenth time, Grosjean is eighth, Kvyat is thirteenth and Gasly is fourth. In addition to the two Williams cars, Norris and Albon are also eliminated: the two drivers got in each other's way on the track and the Thai driver did not have the chance to launch himself. So Norris, Albon, Russell, Kubica and surprisingly Sebastian Vettel are excluded from Q2. The German can add a tick to his list of misfortunes, after the car had shown great potential throughout the weekend. Just when he could play for pole in his home Grand Prix the car abandoned him, this time due to a serious mistake by the team.
Hamilton opens Q2 with Medium compounds, and sets the best time recorded so far: 1'12"149. Bottas follows at 0.3 seconds. After an aborted lap, Leclerc tries again and puts himself behind the reigning champion, just 0.195 seconds behind. Verstappen attempts the Q2 cut on Medium tires, like the first three, but returns to the pits without scoring any points. From the team radio we learn that the Dutch driver seems to have experienced the same problem that stopped Sebastian Vettel ("...I lost power in the straights"). The rest of the competitors take to the track directly on Soft compounds. All drivers set a time, except Verstappen. Hulkenberg, Kvyat, Ricciardo and Stroll are in the elimination zone, while Hamilton, Leclerc, Gasly, Bottas, Sainz, Grosjean, Magnussen, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi and Perez are in Q3. Verstappen returns to the track between complaints, and secures fourth position.
After that, the drivers go for the last attempt except Leclerc and Gasly. Giovinazzi, Magnussen, Ricciardo, Kvyat and Stroll are excluded from the last qualifying session. Just before the start of Q3 a second alarm bell goes off at Ferrari. Charles Leclerc, first both on Friday and Saturday morning, as well as first in Q1, is at the pits and there is a lot of movement around his car; while the green light on the semaphore starts Q3, the Ferrari mechanics are still working around his car. Hamilton launches immediately and scores a time of 1'11"767, while Bottas is half a second slower. Just as Hamilton scores the provisional pole, Leclerc gets out of the car. Unbelievable: for the second time, in the space of twenty minutes, a Ferrari is out of the qualifying session of the German Grand Prix. Two technical problems in a weekend that had seen them dominate so far.
If the objective was to prevent Hamilton from securing another pole position and a possible victory, the Ferrari team failed miserably. That leaves only Verstappen as a contender for victory, but the difference between the cars may be too much. Hardly anyone improves in the second attempt and, thanks to the unforeseen Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton conquers his eighty-seventh pole of his career. Next to him on the front row will be Max Verstappen, followed by Bottas, Gasly, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Sainz, Perez, Hulkenberg and a disappointed Charles Leclerc. The very heartfelt team radio with which Toto Wolff pays homage to Lewis Hamilton at the end of Q3 encapsulates all the exceptional nature of a result that for the men led by the Austrian manager is now a routine.
"Lewis, you will never cease to amaze us".
The words expressed by the team principal of Mercedes, Toto Wolff, to which Lewis Hamilton replies:
"Thanks guys, I don't know where we pulled it out this time".
Ferrari feared the rain and instead they compromised themselves. Mistake after mistake, but in Maranello there is still no solution. The buzzword this year is precisely the lack of reliability: Leclerc's engine injector in Bahrain, the loss of power unit in qualifying in France and Austria, the Monaco qualifying with the engineers' mistake, the too long pit stops in Austria, and much more. The Ferrari team principal, Mattia Binotto, admits that certain things should not happen, yet once again a reliability problem has left not one, but both drivers stranded. Vettel did not even complete the first lap, as he discovered he had a power unit failure, a problem with the duct that sends air to the turbo, while Leclerc paid for a fuel pump anomaly right at the start of Q3. All components carefully checked by the dedicated reliability control department in Maranello, and yet... this equates to a victory for the Mercedes team, served directly by hand with background music tact.
"I don't know if it's the same problem as Sebastian. I just heard that on my car it was a problem with the fuel system. It's a shame for sure, losing one car is very difficult for the team, two cars is even more difficult. Today was not a day for us but tomorrow I will do everything to make it our day and see all the people in the team smiling. What does it feel like? It's difficult, but I remember Baku, when in the pits everyone was convinced that the pole was in our hands and I threw everything into the wall, so yes, moments like that are always difficult for the team as well. They are working hard, I think that in the last weekends there have been positive steps and we must continue to work like this and remain strong in these moments. Wet race? Let's see if there is some snow maybe it can help us... No, it will be difficult. Certainly if there is some rain it can help us, there will be a bit more mess. Even in the dry we were fast, let's see".
And if these are Leclerc's words, Vettel is even more demoralized. The four-time World Champion will start last in his home Grand Prix, the same Grand Prix that was supposed to be of rebirth for him:
"At the pit exit I lost power and we then brought the car back in. I immediately went back to the garage, the mechanics tried their best, but there was nothing they could do. I feel pretty empty. It's a very bitter disappointment, especially here and especially because the car is running well. I hadn't put it all together yet so I thought I had a very good chance. But now I have no chance so I have to look forward to tomorrow".
The two Ferraris haven't started this far back since the 2015 US Grand Prix, with Vettel thirteenth and Raikkonen eighteenth. A disastrous season so far. Starting from the top position will once again be Lewis Hamilton, who with the Ferraris out of the picture had only to worry about countering a young arrembant Max Verstappen.
"I don't even know how we did it today. I don't know what happened to the Ferraris but for us it's a really important race because it's our second home Grand Prix. One hundred and twenty-five years for Mercedes, it's incredible to celebrate them like this. Ferrari? They have been fast all weekend, we have brought updates that have not given the same results we expected. It would have been a very close pole with them, I don't know if we would have prevailed. This is an incredible track, you can go full-on into Turn 1 and Turn 12 with these fast cars. It's very challenging all the way around and I'm really happy with the first lap which was perfect. The second one could have been better in some places but it was still enough".
Also among the disappointed is Valtteri Bottas. It could have been a one-two Mercedes, and instead the second driver of the German team is overtaken also by Verstappen:
"I'm sorry not to be on the front row. I didn't have the same confidence that I usually have and especially under braking I lacked the necessary feeling. The car was difficult to manage in that situation. Long race tomorrow? Definitely. The weather could also play an important role. I'm a bit disappointed with my qualifying because I couldn't find the same confidence that I've had on other occasions. In free practice I struggled a bit, especially in FP3 with the braking and so I brought this with me into qualifying, but the race is tomorrow. Ferrari? They were extremely fast, we knew that in qualifying it would be difficult to beat them, but then they had problems, I don't know what. We have a starting position for tomorrow and I will certainly try to overtake whoever is in front of me".
The Dutch Red Bull driver is in a totally opposite mood. The twenty-one year old knocks off a few tenths of a second from Bottas, and secures the front row:
"In the straights I have an exciting speed. I started cautiously, but seeing that my Red Bull improved as time went by, I started to believe in it. In the race I will aim for the maximum. I had a little problem in Q2 with a setting mode and it was a shame not to qualify on the medium tire but once we managed to sort everything out in the pits, things started to go well. Obviously we had known about Ferrari's problem with both cars. They would have been out of the fight for pole position and we tried to maximize the result today. I'm on a different strategy to Mercedes, which doesn't exactly reflect what we wanted but we are in the fight and we will only see the real difference between the two types of tires tomorrow at the start. We have a good car for tomorrow's race and it was really nice to see so many Dutch fans here in Germany. We don't really know what kind of weather we will be in tomorrow. I'll do my best as usual but for sure some rain could upset things a bit".
During Q2 Max Verstappen seriously risked imitating the fate of the two Ferrari drivers, ending the elimination phase without even a time. On his Red Bull, in fact, there was a problem with the Honda engine that forced him to suddenly return to the pits. Luckily for him, the problem was quickly resolved, giving him enough time to get back on track and make it to Q3, where he then made it to the front row of the grid. Honda has since discovered that the problem was caused by an attempt to use a different power unit mode. Confirmation comes from Toyoharu Tanabe, who admits:
"It's great to have Max on the front row and Gasly right behind him, with his best qualifying result in his career. However, we have to apologize to Max, as there was a problem with the power unit settings when we tried a different mode during Q2 that didn't work".
With just a few minutes to go before the end of qualifying, which definitely didn't bring any joy to Ferrari fans, a little big amarcord moment is staged with Mick Schumacher, who dons the official Ferrari suit to climb aboard the Ferrari F2004, with which dad Michael won his last career world title. Wearing a helmet half lime and half red like the one used by the legendary Ferrari driver in the last years of his career, Mick drove a few laps, making the roar of the V10 engine resound in the stands. A very touching moment for the young Mick, who this year is committed at the wheel of the single-seater of the Italian team Prema in Formula 2:
"Obviously I was excited, a crazy car with a lot of power. And from a historical point of view it was something extraordinary. It's hard to describe, but it was an incredible emotion. The first time I went out on the track, as soon as I put my foot on the accelerator, I immediately felt so much power. Then I went 100%, pushed it down the straight and even did a block in turn 13, if I'm not mistaken... I wanted to see how far I could brake. It was really really good, every meter I drove I felt comfortable all the time. And I wanted to go faster and faster".
Unfortunately for Leclerc, it doesn't snow overnight on Saturday, but on Sunday, July 28, 2019, it rains until morning at the Hockenheim circuit in Germany. The starting grid will see Hamilton and Verstappen on the front row, followed in pairs by Bottas and Gasly, Raikkonen and Grosjean, Sainz and Perez, Hulkenberg and Leclerc, Giovinazzi and Magnussen, Ricciardo and Kvyat, Stroll and Albon, Russell and Kubica, with Norris on the back row, having been penalized five positions for replacing the ECU, MGU-K and battery pack. And at his side the local idol, Sebastian Vettel. On the German driver's car it is decided to replace the power unit control unit.
As already happened during the qualifying, also the race starts in an anomalous way. After the first formation lap, the safety car does not return to the pits, but waits for the FIA decision that will indicate which method will be used to start the race. After four laps on the wet track, and several complaints from drivers who would like to race, the race direction announces that the start will be from standstill. The last driver on the starting grid is Sebastian Vettel. Once the control procedures are completed, the lights go out and the German Grand Prix begins.
The two Mercedes drivers start well and keep the first positions, while Verstappen is author of a bad start and is also passed by Raikkonen. Hulkenberg follows, after having overtaken Sainz and Grosjean. In the back of the field Vettel starts his comeback, already in fourteenth position. Gasly is in obvious difficulty and loses positions, unlike his teammate, who on the second lap passes Raikkonen and returns to attack Bottas, while Sebastian Vettel overtakes Daniel Ricciardo and moves up to thirteenth position. After only three laps the yellow flag is shown: the cause of the neutralization is Sérgio Perez, author of a spin after which the car hits the barrier. The race is neutralized and the drivers take the opportunity to make their first stop.
Vettel replaces his wet tires with a set of intermediates. The same operation is carried out by all drivers, with the exception of Magnussen, Stroll, Norris and the Williams, who remain on wet tires. In this phase the umpteenth mistake of the Ferrari team develops, which nearly creates the conditions for an accident in the pit lane between Leclerc and Kvyat. The dangerous release of the Monegasque driver is noticed by the race direction, but the stewards decide to issue a fine to the team, avoiding to penalize the driver. The race resumes with Hamilton still in the lead, followed by Magnussen, Bottas, Verstappen and Leclerc who immediately overtakes Stroll. Magnussen immediately loses ground and finds himself struggling with Raikkonen, eighth. The Finnish driver has to watch his back because Vettel is already ninth, and he joins the two. In just a few seconds Magnussen is passed by the two former World Champions, and on lap 8 it's time for him to stop at the pits.
After fourteen laps out of sixty-four and already one retirement, the second was Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian runs the kilometers that separate him from the pits, leaving behind a large trail of smoke: it's an exhaust failure, which forces him to retire. This opens the second opportunity to make a stop for both Leclerc and Hulkenberg, who mount a new set of intermediate tires. In the meantime Verstappen attacks Bottas but without success and risks a spin, losing all the advantage gained over the Finn. Sainz avoids a close collision with the barriers in turn 14 and saves the car. On lap 22 Magnussen is the first driver to opt for dry tires, fitting the Soft compound. Vettel makes the same choice one lap later.
Leading the race Hamilton managed to create a gap of six seconds behind him, while Verstappen manages to recover Valtteri Bottas again. The Red Bull team then tries the undercut on the Finnish driver and opts for Medium tires for Verstappen. Unfortunately, the Dutchman loses precious time due to a spin, so, after the pit stop, Bottas is still in front. On lap 25, Lando Norris is forced to retire due to a power loss of the Renault power unit mounted on his McLaren, so the marshals are forced to the third neutralization of the race. Leclerc takes the opportunity to return to the pits and mount the soft compounds, still maintaining the second position. Hamilton re-enters at the end of the neutralization run with the safety car without major worries, as his gap from the Ferrari driver is a good 35 seconds.
While the Englishman rejoins the race, Leclerc makes a mistake and crashes his SF90 into the barriers at turn 14. The Monegasque driver loses his car in a still wet part of the track and his race is over. Fourth retirement in twenty-eight laps. Vettel takes advantage of the neutralization and is called back to the pits for another stop where the German driver mounts the Medium tires. In the meantime, surprisingly, Lewis Hamilton makes a mistake and loses the car just before the pit lane entrance, damaging the front wing. The unexpected entry of Hamilton - who runs despite being feverish due to a strong cold - at the pits catches the mechanics unprepared, and the English driver loses fifty seconds, dropping to fifth place, behind Albon.
Valtteri Bottas leads the race, followed by Verstappen and Hulkenberg. However, the Finnish driver makes his stop under the safety regime and gives the lead to Verstappen. In the meantime, the race direction informs about the need to investigate Hamilton's action, guilty of having re-entered the pit lane in an irregular way. This investigation ends with a penalty of seconds imposed on the English driver. The classification now sees Verstappen leading the race, followed by Hulkenberg, Bottas, Albon and Hamilton, with Vettel eighth. The race resumes along with the rain at the beginning of the thirty-third lap. Hamilton passes Albon and shortly thereafter Bottas passes Hulkenberg.
If the race were to stop now, it would be the first podium in his career for the German driver of Renault, but unfortunately he encounters two Mercedes cars on his way and is soon overtaken by the Englishman as well. However, there is still a glimmer of hope for the Renault driver, as Hamilton will have to serve a five second penalty and in addition a second investigation against the Mercedes driver is announced, this time for driving too slowly behind the safety car. Meanwhile Verstappen continues to lead the race by a good nine seconds over Bottas, and even scores the fastest lap. Just like in 2018, a German driver goes off the track, disappointing the expectations of the audience present. This time, however, it is not Sebastian Vettel, but Nico Hulkenberg, who during the thirty-ninth lap is forced to abandon his podium chances by ending up at the wall in the same spot where Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton came out, marking the fifth retirement of this Grand Prix.
With the entry of the safety car on lap 40, Verstappen takes the opportunity to make yet another stop. The Dutch driver remounted the intermediate tires, followed by Vettel. The Red Bul driver resumes the race keeping the lead, ahead of Bottas and Hamilton. The race resumes. A few laps later, during the 45th lap, Verstappen replaces his rain tires with slicks, and shortly afterwards Bottas, Sainz, Gasly and Albon stop as well. Hamilton and Vettel stop just one lap later, with the former serving his five-second penalty in the pits, which drops him to twelfth place. After the stops, leading the Grand Prix is Lance Stroll with Racing Point, followed by Verstappen and Kvyat. The Canadian's dream, however, is short-lived as Verstappen takes the lead again.
The fight in the back of the field has no end and Albon overtakes both Gasly and Magnussen, gaining the sixth position. When there are fourteen laps to go Kvyat passes Stroll, while Vettel overtakes Gasly and Magnussen. In a race full of twists and turns, Lewis Hamilton makes his third mistake. The Englishman gives a good smoothing to the barrier of the straight after turn 1 and completely ruins his set of tires, falling to the back of the group after being forced to a new stop. In the meantime, Vettel overtakes Albon and sets off in pursuit of Sainz and Bottas, who is struggling with Stroll. On lap 56 there is another twist that brings Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff to bang his fists on the table: Valtteri Bottas is out of the Grand Prix.
During the fifty-sixth lap, just past the finish line Mercedes driver loses control of the car and his single-seater crashes into the barriers of turn 1: a total disaster for the Anglo-German team. If during the qualifying Ferrari had self-sabotaged, Mercedes is trying to come up with a replica during the race, with Bottas retired and Hamilton in fourteenth position. Six retirements and the Grand Prix isn't over yet. The safety car and Bottas' accident give Vettel a new chance. The race resumes with five laps still to run, and the group of competitors totally compacted.
While Lewis Hamilton, completely debilitated due to a strong fever, asks his team if he can retire, but receives a negative answer, Max Verstappen restarts without making any mistakes. In the meantime Alex Albon passes Pierre Gasly, while Sebastian Vettel passes Carlos Sainz and now finds himself only three cars ahead. The German driver launches himself to conquer the position held by Lance Stroll, passes the Canadian on the inside and secures the third position. In front of him there are two Red Bulls and only two laps to go. Not even enough time to enjoy Vettel's overtaking, we witness the seventh retirement of the day. During the 61st lap Pierre Gasly loses his car while trying to overtake Albon, but fortunately this time the car stops in an escape route and the race is not neutralized.
In the meantime, the roar of the crowd rises from the stands, not for the accident involving the French driver, but for the overtaking by Sebastian Vettel on Kvyat. The local idol is now second, four seconds behind Verstappen, but there is no more time. After an exhausting race, the Dutchman runs the last kilometers and among the cries of the Orange crosses the finish line. Verstappen is the winner of the German Grand Prix and behind him the four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who started twentieth, arrives at the finish line second, in a race that was anything but normal. Daniil Kvyat conquers the podium, letting himself go to a cry of joy. The first three were followed by Stroll, Sainz, Albon, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Grosjean, Magnussen, Hamilton, Kubica and Russell.
A Grand Prix that in addition to twists and turns, also gives an immemorial podium. Max Verstappen demonstrates once again his great talent in the wet despite the bad start, he achieves his seventh career victory. Sebastian Vettel, author of a spectacular comeback from 20th position after a Saturday of hell. And finally Kvyat, who returns to the podium for the first time after China 2016: this is only the second podium for Toro Rosso. Moreover, it is since 2001 that two cars from different Italian manufacturers were not seen on the same podium.
The celebrations are not limited to the top three: Racing Point rejoices for Stroll's fourth place, McLaren for Sainz's fifth, and Albon with his best finish in Formula 1. Max Verstappen takes home the trophy with the number 1 on it: from the bad luck of others he is the one who is rewarded, but it's not just luck. In spite of an uncertain start and a spin, the right strategy and the skills of the young Dutchman in the wet ensured the Red Bull driver the victory in a Grand Prix where unpredictability ruled:
"It was an incredible race, I'm happy to have won. It was difficult to make the right decisions, especially when we mounted the dry compounds I made a beautiful spin. The conditions were terrible, the experience was very important to manage this race, because I showed that I have learned a lot over the years. I made very few mistakes and I'm very happy with the performance of the car, this was a great win for us".
Second position for the home driver; a second place that tastes more like a victory. Sebastian Vettel made no less than five stops over the course of the race, using every set of tyres available. He took advantage of every neutralization and finally, in the last sprint, he gave himself the right charge to overcome all the obstacles in front of him and maximize his result to arrive behind Verstappen. A podium that certainly doesn't give him the world championship, but that definitely has a redemption value. The same circuit that had started the end, including hundreds of speculations about his retirement, could mark a new beginning, and will perhaps be able to give him back the right morale that seemed to be lost:
"I'm satisfied, it was a long race. At one point it seemed like it would never end, but I had a lot of fun. It was very hard to interpret the right move, but I'm happy. It took some time to get the hang of the intermediates at the beginning. I was clean the whole race. Behind the safety car I said to myself: you're faster than them, you can pass them all, just don't make any mistakes. I gave everything and this extraordinary second place arrived. After so much bad luck, I deserved it. I was cautious at the first corner, then I pushed hard. Verstappen was very good, but this second place is worth a victory".
The German driver also makes a comment on Leclerc:
"We are a bit disappointed about what happened to Charles. I don't know what he did, but in the future we want to go on the podium with both cars. We need to work and believe me we all work, here on the track and especially all the team in Maranello. I think in this moment it's important that all Italy and all the fans are with us. It's not easy for us, we push a lot and when you push you can make mistakes but the most important is the morale and believe in our strength".
Talking about the role played by the mistakes, in the press conference Sebastian Vettel adds:
"Other drivers made mistakes today, but it's part of racing. Nowadays everyone is very quick to make judgments about drivers, but the conditions outside were really difficult".
Then, the Ferrari driver concludes his speech by addressing his own team:
"We have to believe in what we do, more in ourselves. The car is improving, the direction of development is the right one".
Shortly afterwards, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto tries to sum up the German Grand Prix admitting to having a bit of regret, given the final result:
"Having seen the race and everything that happened even there is almost a bit of regret, but I am delighted for Sebastian. He did a great race, he deserved it. I think it's an important confidence boost for him at this stage of the season. The car worked, as we saw on Friday and Saturday. It allowed our two drivers to have the right pace. Charles was second when he went off the track, and I think the pit stop calls were all right today. We will look at them again, some were called by the drivers themselves, some by the pit wall, but when the conditions are like this, I think that the collaboration between team and driver is what is needed. To have seen both Leclerc and Vettel fast means that the car was going well regardless of the driver. I think it was also important to have good feedback from the wet. We have suffered in the wet for a long time, but today we had good feedback and the car was fast in the final part of the race in the dry and in cooler conditions, not in the hot conditions we had on Friday. Regardless of wet, dry, hot or cold the car performed well".
After that, Ferrari's team principal analyzes in more detail the race of its two drivers, starting with Sebastian Vettel, and continuing with Leclerc:
"I think fundamental for him, especially here in Germany in front of his public. He definitely felt the push. It's an injection of confidence. Charles has already come to the wall, we looked at each other in the eyes and I think that's enough. I don't think there is anything to add, he knows and is aware. I think that today is a missed opportunity for him, but there are many other races, he will make up for it. He is a very fast guy, even today he was doing something extraordinary".
In seven days the Hungarian Grand Prix will take place:
"It is not certain that we will repeat the situations we had here in Germany, but the important thing is to know that there are tracks where we are competitive and where on the contrary our opponents also have ups and downs. Highs and lows are common to all teams and not just to one car. There are no wrong cars. There are different cars that can behave differently depending on the situation. If there is one thing we are happy about is to see a united team, regardless of the difficulties or difficulties in certain moments the team is always reacting in the best way".
Podium sealed by Kvyat with Toro Rosso, who started from fourteenth place:
"It was incredible to be back on the podium again and with Toro Rosso after so many years. It was a crazy race that fortunately ended for me with a third place. Despite the fact that our car seemed to be struggling a bit yesterday, we were able to get on the podium today. We managed to show that we have grown together and I can only be happy for the whole team and for the perfect job we have done together. With those particular conditions it was hard to manage the race on a psychological level. At the beginning of the race I was struggling to get the intermediates to work. Then we decided to mount the slicks. It was an incredible day for us, also thanks to a perfect strategy that allowed us to end the race on the podium".
A perfect gift for the new dad.
"My daughter was born last night. I didn't say anything before the race because I wanted to focus on what to do. That's all I can say - it was an incredible day. And it's not true that when a driver becomes a father he starts to go slower".
Among the many smiles there are also some disappointed ones starting from Leclerc, who, after the team's mistake in qualifying, ruins the race with his own hands:
"All it takes is one mistake to ruin everything and that's my fault. But it felt like being on ice. My weekend ended in a disappointing way. After a good start, we managed to make a comeback despite the very difficult conditions. The team had done a great job in terms of strategy and put me in second position, in a position to play even the victory. Then, unfortunately, I made a mistake in turn 16 and I lost control, I ended up against the barriers and my race ended there. It's a pity and I apologize to the team and to the fans. Sebastian, on the other hand, did an incredible job today and he deserved the result he got. Our car and the level of our performance has been high all weekend in both dry and wet conditions, and this is undoubtedly positive. We need to stay focused and get back on track to give our best already next week in Hungary".
Of the same state of mind is Valtteri Bottas. Also for him a DNF after a weekend full of disappointments. And finally Hamilton as we have never seen him before: two exits from the track and two mistakes that put him under investigation with consequent penalty. The reigning champion ends the race in third last position. Fortunately he can afford to make mistakes, as the championship is already in his hands. The British driver does not win any points, but his record is still unbreakable.
"It was one of the most difficult races we've had in many years. There will definitely be something to analyze and figure out what we could have done differently. The car was difficult to drive in dry conditions because it was damaged. Maybe there was something wrong with the tires, but I struggled a lot today when the track dried out. For me this weekend has been a disaster, I'm glad it's over".
And also the team principal of Mercedes, Toto Wolff, comments on the nightmarish race of the Anglo-German team:
"It's not easy when you're dealing with days like that. We had a decent start to the race, with a good pace. But then between accidents, cars off the track because of the difficult conditions, wrong pit calls, the race started to go in the wrong direction".
Regarding the pit stop that saw the team go into confusion, the Austrian manager admits:
"It was an unfortunate event because he had the accident right before entering the pitlane and the mechanics were not prepared. We then also got the pit calls wrong".
And of course there is also regret for Bottas' retirement:
"So many other drivers made mistakes, like Leclerc, but overall it was a bad day for our drivers. It simply could not have been worse. This shows that you can't allow yourself distractions, you have to focus only on work. We are not superstitious, but we believe in karma. This is a day to treasure".
But the worst case scenario hits Alfa Romeo. Raikkonen and Giovinazzi crossed the finish line in seventh and eighth position, but the FIA decided otherwise. Both drivers were penalized 30 seconds due to some clutch anomalies in both cars found at the start of the race. These penalties bumped Hamilton up to ninth, and gave Williams its first point of the year with Robert Kubica now tenth.
"Today was a crazy race and the track conditions were very slippery. I managed to bring the car home without any mistakes, which is the most important thing. Although racing in wet and changeable conditions is nothing new for me, it's been nine years since I'd last experienced them in a Formula 1 car and it certainly jogged my memory today".
The Alfa Romeo team, however, lets us understand the will to appeal the decision of the Commissioners, as explained by team principal Frederic Vasseur:
"To have had both cars penalized and excluded from the points zone is disappointing, at the end of such an entertaining race. The situation occurred in the formation laps behind the Safety Car, before the start. We suffered from a clutch malfunction, which is independent from our control and which we will investigate in these days. We respect the decisions of the FIA and the Commissioners, but we will appeal, convinced that we have the evidence to annul the decision. We will get in touch with the Federation soon. Kimi and Antonio drove very well in difficult conditions and seventh and eighth place were the right reward for their performance. The team worked very hard to get both cars into the points zone and we showed once again that we have the pace to fight in the middle of the pack".
The next Grand Prix before the summer break will take place in Hungary, at the Hungaroring circuit, where the thirty-fourth edition will be run. After his second place in Germany, Vettel is ready to show his and the car's potential, and is aiming for a hat-trick of victories on this circuit, where he won in 2015 and 2017:
"If there is a track that tests the driver in modern Formula 1, this is the Hungaroring. On this fast-paced track there are no long straights so you are basically always having to work with the steering wheel. The climate then, given the period in which you come here to compete, is often torrid, which certainly does not help. The most significant corners are 1 and 14. At the first braking, if you take some risks, you can try to overtake, even if the straight you come from is certainly not long. Even at turn 14 it is not at all easy to complete the maneuver successfully".
"In some respects it reminds of a kart track: one corner is followed by another almost without interruption and the driver often does not even have time to think. On this track you can say that there are no parts where you can relax, it's so hectic. I personally like it, because being competitive here is never easy. In qualifying, in particular, having a perfect lap is always very difficult because you have to push, but also remember to take care of the tires so you can exploit them in the final part".
These are Binotto's words:
"This race is an important stage to have further confirmation that our car has improved on various types of track. We will be able to count on the elements introduced recently to which we will add some aerodynamic changes. We are obviously concentrating on solving the recent reliability problems with the aim of preventing them from happening again".
Obviously for Ferrari's Team Principal there is a lot of work to do. Despite Vettel's second place, the German Grand Prix was a big flop, with mistake after mistake. And certainly, the Maranello team did not come out well.