The rain clouds hovering over the Hockenheim circuit ahead of the German Grand Prix threatened to deliver a thrilling race. The weather gods delivered, and F1’s drivers were more than happy to oblige, serving up a wild and chaotic spectacle which will live long in the memory.
At various points it seemed like a handful of drivers could win. The man who did was glad at one point still to be in the running.
Just add water: The German Grand Prix was the first wet race of 2019, but it was well worth the wait. In a season that has been dominated by Mercedes, a series of rain showers on Sunday afternoon turned the order on its head and provided two hours of solid entertainment.
But the margins between success and failure were wafer thin — something race winner Max Verstappen admitted as he recalled his 360-degree spin in the stadium section on Lap 26. Trace the ifs, buts and maybes across the race and at least four drivers — Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas — could have won the race given the pace and the track position they held at certain stages. It was also F1’s third thrilling race in a row, which should serve as a timely reminder to a sport that is so often focused on the negatives of its formula.
Mercedes’ “Armageddon” weekend: On a weekend when Mercedes was celebrating its 125 years in motorsport, its F1 team turned in one of its worst performances in recent memory. Whatever could go wrong did go wrong, including both drivers spinning off (one into retirement) and a 50-second pit stop.
The first half of the race seemed to be going to plan, and the cars were running 1-2 up until a botched pit stop on Lap 29. Hamilton put the turning point down to the moment his team called him in from the lead on a wet track to fit slick tires, but in Mercedes’ defence it was in line with the majority of the field. By the end of that lap he was in the barriers and as he recovered for repairs he passed the wrong side of the pit entry bollard and earned a five-second penalty. Then came the calamitous pit stop in which the front wing and tires weren’t ready. Given the response time, that wasn’t too much a surprise and given that it happened under the Safety Car, the time loss wasn’t too bad, but from that point onwards Mercedes had handed Verstappen and Red Bull the advantage.