Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton might not have qualified on pole position, but he achieved two important milestones at the Formula One Eifel Grand Prix. He took home Mercedes’ first win at the Nurburgring since 1954. More importantly, he tied Michael Schumacher’s record 91 wins. And he doesn’t look set to slow down any time soon.
After the race, Mick Schumacher, Michael’s son, presented Hamilton with one of his father’s helmets from the Mercedes era.
Hamilton had a great start, but both Mercedes drivers pushed each other wide into the first turn (although, most drivers did struggle there). Bottas ultimately filtered out into the lead by the time they hit the second turn. Most drivers locked up on their cold tires, but everyone made it through.
Romain Grosjean had the worst start. A piece of wayward gravel struck his finger; he thought it was broken, which saw him drop back to the rear of the field.
Red Bull Racing’s Alex Albon opted for a fairly strange strategy, coming in for a pit stop on lap eight. Down at turn one on lap 11, Sebastian Vettel nearly hit the back of an Alfa Romeo, which ended up with him taking a spin in the paved runoff.
Most drivers came in for their first round of pit stops on lap 14, the same time that Kimi Raikkonen tagged George Russell’s right rear tire, which nearly sent him flipping over. Raikkonen locked up and couldn’t avoid the Williams. Two laps later, stewards deployed the virtual safety car so marshals could take care of Russell’s abandoned car. It turned out to be a solid time Hamilton to pit from the lead, keeping him in front.
With the VSC lifted, Albon and Daniil Kvyat’s battle turned sour. Albon tried to pass the AlphaTauri but wasn’t all the way past when he turned in front of Kvyat, which saw the latter driver lose his front wing.
And then Bottas lost power.
He had just the smallest amount of power to help him limp back to the pits, but he lost several places in the process and then was forced to retire. The polesitter was knocked out of contention, leaving Hamilton and Max Verstappen to duke it out for the lead.
“During the VSC, I started to lose power and it never recovered,” Bottas said. He didn’t offer any further information about the cause of the problem.
Esteban Ocon’s Renault lost its gearbox. He pitted to attempt to fix it, but he wasn’t able to make it to his pit box before the car died. He became the third drive to retire from the Eifel Grand Prix. Albon followed soon after—Red Bull Racing retired him with no explanation, but it appeared it was due to Albon making too many mistakes. McLaren’s Lando Norris also began losing power before the halfway mark. The team had him continue, but he lost a podium position.
The top three settled down, with Hamilton, Verstappen, and Daniel Ricciardo sitting in the podium positions. Sergio Perez’s Racing Point was on newer tires, and he was able to chop down the gap between himself and Ricciardo.
Norris’s car finally blew up on lap 44, bringing out a full safety car. It kicked off a series of frantic pit stops as teams tried to get everyone on fresh tires. The top three remained the same, but the safety car bunched everyone up to make for a thrilling final laps. The safety car was intended to bunch everyone up, but the longer it stayed out, the colder the tires got.
The green flag flew with just 10 laps to go. Hamilton took an easy lead, but Verstappen had a poor start, which bunched up the drivers behind him. Ricciardo wasn’t able to pass Verstappen, which then gave Perez a chance on the Renault driver. Ultimately, there was little change on that first green lap.
Hamilton, Verstappen, and Ricciardo crossed the line to take home the podium positions. Ricciardo’s podium is his first since 2018 and Renault’s first since 2011, and it also completes a bet that Ricciardo and team principal Cyril Abiteboul made this season: if Ricciardo gets a podium in 2020, Abiteboul has to get a tattoo.
Both Haas and Antonio Giovinazzi of Alfa Romeo scored points.