After starting from P14, Lewis Hamilton stormed through the field to claim his 66th career victory – his fourth of the 2018 season and fourth at the German Grand Prix, equalling Michael Schumacher’s record for most F1 wins at the race.
Ferrari’s pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel looked comfortable in the lead and was en route to his first Formula 1 win in front of his home fans in Germany , but things were turned on their head when rainfall arrived in the latter stages of the race, Vettel, crashed into the barriers and out of the race, and when the Silver Arrow of Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen both pitted under the resultant Safety Car, Hamilton was in top spot.
Valtteri Bottas came home second to complete a perfect 1-2 for the team – his fifth second place of the 2018 season and Kimi Raikkonen complete the podium.
Max Verstappen brought his Red Bull home in P4, a gamble to switch to intermediate tyres having failed to pay off, while Nico Hulkenberg took a superbly judged fifth for Renault in front of his home fans.
With it an eight-point deficit to Vettel in the championship was converted into a 17-point advantage, while Ferrari’s misery was completed as Mercedes reclaimed the lead in the constructors’ race by eight points.
I’ve never experienced a race quite like this. I knew sitting on the grid that I had to catch the guys at the front – that was my goal. I did a very long first stint, but I had to stop just before it started to rain as the tyre just couldn’t hold out any longer. It rained more and more and it was so tricky out there, but I’d come so far, there was no way I was giving it up. To get the 1-2 for Mercedes, especially on a weekend when the Team showed their confidence in us by re-signing us, is tremendous. I would never have thought you could do something like that today but I just kept pushing, I kept believing and it happened. I prayed as I always do before the race, and it feels like those prayers were answered. There was a lot of negativity this weekend, but I feel like the rain has come down and washed away all of that negativity. It’s been a real dream and a day I’ll always remember.
I would have loved to win this race, but at the moment I’m very happy for us at the team – it’s a perfect result here at the home race for Mercedes in Germany. I was fighting for the win today and things started to unfold quite nicely for me towards the end of the race. But unfortunately I was a bit unlucky as the Safety Car did not come at an ideal time for me in terms of tyre age. That’s where I lost the race. Lewis had a great comeback and drove a mega race – probably one of his best. In the end he was a bit more lucky with the Safety Car timing than I was. I had a good opportunity at the re-start, Lewis and I had a great, fair battle – but he managed to stay ahead. It must have been quite exciting to watch – two of the same cars fighting it out on the track. We decided not to pit for the Intermediate tyres; it was risky, but the team was comfortable that the rain would not last long. It turned out to be exactly the right decision, so I’m glad I trusted the team. I will keep pushing hard and I’m sure my time will come.
Kimi Raikkonen: “It was pretty difficult out there today. Surprisingly, in some corners there was decent grip and in some others there was none at all; we could feel the rain especially in Turns 2 and 6. It was hard to tell when to slow down and where the grip was. Obviously, you had to make your decision before the braking zone, knowing that if it happens to be wetter than you expected, there’s not much you can do. It was not easy but we tried to make the best calls and I think we got it right. The most tricky moments were before the safety car came in; it felt like it was raining a lot, somehow we had some decent grip and suddenly quite bad grip. At one point I had a moment with some back-markers and unfortunately I lost second place. In many ways it could have been better today, but this is what we got. I think that we made the most of it, considering the situation.”