Verstappen victorious after wild, wet and wacky German GP

Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing 28.07.2019
© XPB 

Red Bull's Max Verstappen emerged on top following a wild and wet German Grand Prix, which saw multiple incidents and safety cars as the weather played havoc with proceedings.

Verstappen finished over seven seconds clear of Sebastian Vettel after the Ferrari driver recovered from a back row starting position. Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat claimed the final podium place at the chequered flag.

But it proved a torrid time for pole sitter Lewis Hamilton, who finished out of the points after going off at a soaking wet final corner, damaging his front wing and incurring a penalty in the process.

That happened just a lap after Ferrari's Charles Leclerc had retired from the race following a near-identical incident. Valtteri Bottas also crashed out of the race in the closing laps to make it a pointless home race for the Silver Arrows.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 leads behind the FIA Safety Car.

Rain had finally arrived at Hockenheim on Sunday morning, persistent light precipitation setting up the first proper wet race of 2019. By the time that Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen headed to the front row of the grid for the start, all 20 drivers had decided to start the race on full rain tyres rather than gamble on intermediates.

Hamilton was also reported to be feeling under the weather albeit in quite another way. With Ferrari also looking rather sickly due to a double technical failure in qualifying for Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, it seemed that fortune could very well be smiling favourably on second-place man Verstappen and his army of Dutch fanatics cheering from the bedraggled grandstands.

After initial formation laps behind the safety car to clear some of the standing water, the drivers finally lined up for a standing start. When the lights went out, it appeared that the racing Gods had deserted Verstappen, who suffered a terrible start compared to that of the two Silver Arrows.

Hamilton got the power down perfectly to convert pole position to the lead, with team mate Valtteri Bottas in his wheel tracks despite briefly running wide in turn 1. Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen also briefly got the better of Verstappen, but the Red Bull was able to get the position back a few moments later.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 leads at the start of the race.

Leclerc had made up four places and Vettel was up five spots by the time the safety car was deployed for a solo spin by Sergio Perez in an aquaplaning Racing Point at turn 11. That triggered a number of pit stops to enable drivers to change to intermediates, an exception being Kevin Magnussen who stayed out and duly handed second place for the restart. However, he was quickly picked off by Bottas and Verstappen, then by Leclerc and Hulkenberg before the Haas bowed to the inevitable and made the deferred change to inters on lap 9.

Hamilton had been left with a 3s lead over Bottas at the front followed by Verstappen, Leclerc, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Vettel, Carlos Sainz, Alexander Albon and Antonio Giovinazzi, with Romain Grosjean and Daniel Ricciardo running just outside the top ten.

A big engine blow-up for Ricciardo on lap 14 led to a brief Virtual Safety Car while the stricken Renault was removed. When the race resumed, Verstappen thought he spied an opening on Bottas at the hairpin, only to slide wide at the apex and fell back.

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Renault F1 Team RS19 retired from the race.

The rain radar was promising a return of the rain, and even before this could materialise Carlos Sainz sailed off the track at the now-saturated final corner. He narrowly avoided running into the barrier, but dropped from eighth to 14th as he recovered.

By now all the drivers were reaching end-of-life on their current intermediate tyres, and on lap 23 Magnussen decided to gamble on a switch to soft tyres followed a lap later by Vettel. Shortly afterwards Verstappen was in for medium tyres, but when he tip-toed his way out of pit lane he was suffering an acute lack of grip and subsequently went for a 360 degree spin in the stadium section before continuing. Another to find the mediums too big a challenge at this point of proceedings was Racing Point's Lance Stroll.

Leclerc was in on lap 27 for soft tyres, getting the advantage of another VSC period after Lando Norris came to a stop with a technical issue on the McLaren. The VSC was withdrawn while Hamilton was making his own stop, giving Leclerc the chance to pounce - only for the Ferrari to understeer off the track at the final corner, into the barrier - and out of the race.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF90 retired from the race.

Despite a safety car being scrambled, Hamilton went off at exactly the same point as Leclerc a lap later and damaged his front wing. He made a late lunge for the pits, but the team wasn't ready for him and struggled with the emergency service which cost Hamilton the lead. To add insult to injury, the stewards handed him a five second penalty for not following the permitted line into pit lane.

With the weather clearly having taken a turn for the worse, everyone was now forced to revert to intermediates: after the mad scramble, Verstappen picked up the lead over Hulkenberg, Bottas, Albon, Hamilton, Sainz, Raikkonen, Vettel, Gasly and Giovinazzi.

The safety car ended on lap 34, Hamilton initially struggling to get around Albon until he finally pulled it off on lap 36. Up the road, Bottas made a decisive move to dispatch Hulkenberg at the hairpin, and a few minutes later Hamilton followed suit to put both Silver Arrows back up into the top three.

Raikkonen became the latest to sail through the water feature at the final corner on lap 40, but the inters allowed him to steer clear of the barriers and resume in ninth place. Not so lucky was Hulkenberg, who went off in the Renault at the same place on the next lap, but this time the car went into the wall to trigger another safety car.

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault F1 Team RS19 retired from the race.

The threat of rain was rapidly receding, but Verstappen and Vettel both opted to stay on fresh intermediates when they made opportunistic 'free' stops before the restart. With little to lose, Stroll switched to softs and his immediately rapid progress through the field at the restart persuaded others to follow his lead a lap later, with Verstappen and Bottas among those switching to slicks on lap 47 and Hamilton, Raikkonen and Vettel in next time around.

The pandemonium meant Stroll briefly popped into the lead of the race - the first Canadian to do so since Jacques Villeneuve - before Verstappen quickly took back control. Daniil Kvyat had also benefited to climb into third place ahead of Bottas and Sainz followed by Magnussen, Albon, Gasly, Vettel and Grosjean. Hamilton's earlier five second penalty meant he dropped out of the points altogether at this point with just 15 laps remaining, and a further brief off at turn 1 on lap 53 only worsened his plight.

With the rain finally having left the scene, Verstappen was able to pull away from the field to secure his second Grand Prix race victory of the season. There was a furious battle to the line for the remaining podium places which saw Bottas spin off into the barrier on lap 58 after catching the inside kerb at turn 1, triggering a final safety car in the process.

Sebastian Vettel (GER), Scuderia Ferrari and Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing

A sprint finish allowed Vettel to barnstorm his way onto the podium with late passes on both Kvyat and Stroll to pick up second place behind Verstappen. Sainz crossed the line in fifth ahead of Albon, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Grosjean and Magnussen, with Hamilton in a humiliating 11th place followed by Kubica and Russell. Red Bull's Pierre Gasly had been a late retirement after an attempted pass on Albon shattered his front wing with three laps to go.

However a subsequent post-race penalty to both Alfa Romeos demoted Raikkonen and Giovinazzi out of the points, raising Hamilton to ninth and awarding Kubica his first championship point since his return to F1 at the start of 2019. The penalty is likely to be appealed by the team.

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter