Who excelled on Formula 1’s return to the Hockenheimring and who needs to improve in Hungary? Here are our German Grand Prix driver ratings…
Lewis Hamilton: What a difference a day makes. From P14 on the grid after a hydraulics issue in qualifying to winning a race from outside the top six on the grid for the first time in his career. Hamilton said a little prayer by the side of his broken-down car in Q1 and my word was that prayer answered on race day.
The Brit had fears of overtaking ahead of the race, but he was back in the top five by lap 15 and went super long on the soft tyres. With rain in the air, a few eyebrows were raised when fresh ultrasofts were bolted on, but Hamilton stayed ultra-cool through the unpredictable conditions and stayed out on them, diving back out of the pit lane entrance at the last second.
He probably could not believe his luck when seeing his title rival Sebastian Vettel crash out, but he was due some himself after outside factors impacting a few of his races of late and, despite the good fortune, that was still a cracking drive.
After surviving a summons to the stewards for his last-ditch swerve out of the pits, he now heads to Hungary with a 17-point lead in the World Championship. Unthinkable when the lights went out at the Hockenheimring. 9
Valtteri Bottas: After getting back ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the latter stages of a chaotic German Grand Prix,Bottas had a fantastic chance to finally claim his first victory of the 2018 season, going wheel-to-wheel with team-mate Hamilton after the Safety Car pulled back in for the final 10 laps.
With fresher tyres on, Bottas looked to have gotten the better of Hamilton – but we were denied a fight to the finish with Mercedes asking the Finn to hold position. With the ink barely dry on his new Mercedes contract, he was hardly going to kick up a fuss about it. Instead he showed why he is a great team player, playing his part in Mercedes’ first 1-2 at the German Grand Prix. 8
Kimi Raikkonen: Yet another eventful race for the ‘Ice Man’, who looks set to stay at Ferrari for another year given the fact that Sergio Marchionne has had to step down from his role as Ferrari CEO and president due to ill health. New man John Elkann will not want to upset the status quo so soon into the job.
Raikkonen was involved in an enjoyable scrap with Max Verstappen on the first lap, before becoming a pawn in Ferrari’s game as he pitted early to try and force Bottas and Mercedes out of their comfort zone. With Mercedes refusing to take the bait, Raikkonen found himself leading the race, only to be told, like Bottas, to move aside for his superior team-mate.
Whilst the race ended in disaster for Vettel, who had been dominant for a large part of the weekend, Raikkonen came quietly home for a fourth consecutive podium finish. 8
Max Verstappen:On first viewing, finishing in the same position as you started suggests a quiet race for the Dutchman – but it could have been a whole lot worse than P4 as Red Bull were one of many to be caught out by the localised showers.
The switch to inters did not work out for Verstappen – initially all over the back of Raikkonen on lap one but unable to find a way past – yet there was more than enough time to rectify the problem, switch back to slicks, and keep hold of fourth spot. A podium finish never really looked on the cards for Red Bull in Germany, but the characteristics of the Hungary circuit will be well up their street next time out. 7
Nico Hulkenberg: Hulkenberg had never finished in the top six in any Formula 1 race in his home country of Germany, but that has all changed with a fantastic P5 result at the Hockenheimring, which is also his best finish of the 2018 season.
Hulkenberg suffered a massive lock-up on the first lap and, with that in mind, was the one of the first midfield drivers to pit early in order to cover off any potential undercuts. He then took full advantage of a Ericsson/Ocon squabble to sail up the pecking order, but he too could have seen his race easily unravel by also pitting for inters.
Yet, he was able to open up the gap again back on the ultrasofts and at least make it a memorable home race for one German driver. 9
Romain Grosjean: The Frenchman is starting to find form again at just the right time with his Haas future on the line. He helped deliver the team’s best-ever qualifying result as Grosjean and K-Mag locked down the third row, but he did not get off to the best of starts.
When Grosjean ended up on the grass after a tussle with Sergio Perez, it seemed inevitable what would happen next with his history of crashes. However, he overcame the issues with his blistering tyres and fought all the way to the finish, where he got his own back on Perez by pipping him to a P6 finish. A very good job considering he was P10 with 10 laps to go. 8.5
Sergio Perez: Perez has maintained his 100% points-scoring record at the German Grand Prix – but it was far from easy. Aggressive at the start and making good progress up the field, the Mexican’s race began to unravel with a slow first pit stop and a spin out which could have easily have been game over.
He was able to recover, though, and with Force India deciding not pit either driver for inters and stay loyal to the slick tyres, they were ultimately rewarded with a third consecutive double points-finish. Losing a place to Grosjean would have stung a little, but it is an excellent result for Perez. 8.5
Esteban Ocon: After only managing one practice session prior to his joint-worst qualifying of the season, Ocon said he felt a “bit blind” going into Sunday’s race. Thankfully, he was able to get his eye in quickly and drag himself back into the points with a P8 finish, extending his scoring streak to three races. With very strong rumours of a move to Renault for 2019, is this the beginning of the end for Ocon at Force India? 8.5
Marcus Ericsson: It looked like Charles Leclerc would be hogging all the headlines again for Sauber after his exploits in qualifying, but it was Ericsson’s turn to bring home the points for the Swiss team – their eighth points finish of the 2018 season. Unlike Leclerc, Ericsson stayed out on his dry tyres and withstood a late barrage from other midfield competitors to take a very respectable P9 at the Hockenheimring. 8
After a crazy race, we're back in the points! (For real this time) 😉
— Toro Rosso (@ToroRosso) July 22, 2018
Brendon Hartley: After the bad luck that Brendon Hartley has had this season, a clean weekend and some good fortune for himself was long overdue. Toro Rosso have really dropped off the pace as the campaign has developed but the New Zealander rolled his sleeves up and dug incredibly deeply to keep himself in some form of contention. His hard work was rewarded when a 10-second penalty for Carlos Sainz promoted Hartley into the final points spot. His first point since round four in Bahrain. 8
Kevin Magnussen: A constrast of emotions on both sides of the Haas garage. Whilst Grosjean was able to recover to a P6 finish in the tricky conditions, Magnussen found himself outside of the points despite being nailed on for a decent haul in dry conditions, running in P6 for the vast majority. 7.5
Carlos Sainz: It’s now three races without a point for Sainz, who had a run of six consecutive points finishes going at one stage of the season. He would have finished in the points in Germany but an amateur mistake of overtaking under Safety Car conditions saw him drop to P12 to P10 with a 10-second timed penalty. He only has himself to blame. 5
Stoffel Vandoorne: Vandoorne called his FP1 and FP2 outings in Germany as the “worst Friday of my career” and it did not get much better for the Belgian throughout the rest of the weekend.
His problems have escalated since McLaren made changes to the car ahead of qualifying for the British Grand Prix – whatever the mechanics try, his MCL33 appears to get worse. What followed after his worst Friday was Alonso going 11-0 up in the qualifying battle on Saturday.
It looked like Vandoorne was going to cap off a miserable weekend by retiring the car, but settings were able to altered at the last second to ensure he could continue, albeit with lower power. He too was rewarded by not pitting for inters and was able to salvage a P13 finish. 6
Pierre Gasly: Gasly was a late faller on the starting grid as Toro Rosso decided to fit a fifth power unit of the season for the Frenchman. He started dead last as a result and was then the victim of a quite comical gamble by his pit crew as he tried to drive the car with full wet tyres on dry parts of the track. The biblical downpour they were hoping for arrived after the chequered flag. 5.5
Charles Leclerc: Leclerc booked his place in Q3 for the third time in four races but that was as good as it got for Ferrari’s rising star. Starting from P9, Leclerc’s race fell apart very quickly after pitting for intermediates which turned out to a bad decision for many. From there, Leclerc did a full 360 degree spin and went for a spot of off-road racing before limping home in P15. A rare race to forget. 6
Fernando Alonso:It was also a difficult afternoon for Alonso, who actually retired on the final lap but is still classified as last of the finishers. McLaren placed a losing bet when pitting for inters once the first spots of rain arrived and not even Alonso can extract pace on a dry track with wet tyres. 6
Did not finish
Sebastian Vettel: It wasn’t supposed to end this way. With title rival Hamilton seemingly out of the picture for a second straight race weekend, Vettel was untouchable in qualifying and looked to be untouchable in the race as well as he built up a relatively comfortable lead on Bottas at the start.
The issues began to start when Vettel was being held up by team-mate Raikkonen at the front and lost a chunk of precious time, which was completely unnecessary given that the pair were on different strategies. When Vettel’s demands for a swap were finally agreed to, the rain started to fall and it proved to be Vettel’s downfall. He had been relatively mistake-free this season up until this point.
He lost control in the slippery conditions heading into the stadium section and hit the barrier in clear sight of a vast majority of his home fans cheering him on. A tearful Vettel on team radio will be making the cut in everyone’s end-of-season montages. But is it a mistake that will prove crucial in this fascinating title battle? 6
Lance Stroll: More misery for Williams with a double DNF. Stroll’s brakes failed in the latter stages and he must be wondering what could have been as he was in front of of point-scoring Hartley at one stage. With Stroll not exactly denying rumours of a move to Force India next season, he may not have to put with Williams’ woes for much longer. 5
Sergey Sirotkin: Sirotkin was one of the stars of qualifying after managing to reach Q2 for the first time since Monaco. The front wing seemed to be making Williams a little more competitive in Germany, but Sirotkin was denied what would have been one of his stronger races by his standards when he was told to stop the car immediately. 5.5
Daniel Ricciardo: Ricciardo cannot catch a break at the moment after suffering his second race retirement in three races. The Aussie was already forced to start from the back row after being the victim of some tactical engine penalties, but his new Renault engine lasted just 29 laps before he was reporting a loss of power.
Ricciardo had been slowly, but surely, working his way through the field after opting to the start the race on the medium tyres. 6.5