Formula 1 German Grand Prix 2019

F1 German Grand Prix 2019

I know that I am a week late to the party, it’s been a busy week and this is the first moment I have had to write about the F1 German GP. But, what a cracker of a race, it had thrills and spills galore including big-name drivers spinning and crashing out in the slippery conditions with intermittent periods of rain keeping the drivers on intermediate tires with a few drivers taking a gamble of slicks and paying the price.

The Grand Prix, I guess officially started behind the safety car, as there were 4 formation laps, before forming up on the grid for a regular start, minus 3 laps, reducing the race distance to 64 laps instead of the usual 67 laps, due to the added three formation laps, I guess this is new for the 2019 season.

During the grid start, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who started on the front row alongside Lewis Hamilton made a terrible start, dropping back to fourth, having to fend off Romain Grosjean. Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas slotted in behind his Mercedes teammate, Hamilton, who started from pole. Kimi Raikkonen moved into third place due to Verstappen’s poor start. Verstappen quickly reclaimed third place, while the Ferrari’s were on the move, Sebastian Vettel, who started from the back of the grid, made up six places, up to 14th, and Charles Leclerc made up four places, up to sixth from 10th place on the first lap.

The drama started on lap 2 with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez spinning all by himself and out of the race, causing the first of many safety car periods. Vettel was the first to blink, coming in for intermediate tires, which triggered a whole series of pit stops to get rid of the full wet tires in the three laps the safety car was circulating. On the restart, the drivers that stayed out on full wet tires, finding themselves high up in the top 10, was immediately swallowed up by the cars on faster, for the conditions, intermediate tires.

By lap 10, the top three remained the same, Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen, while Ferrari was still moving forwards, Leclerc had moved up to fourth place, and Vettel had moved up to seventh place, thanks to his early stop for intermediates. While the last of the full wet holdouts pitted for intermediates.

Now, some controversy, involving Ferrari, the FIA handed Ferrari a financial penalty for an unsafe release, sending Leclerc out into the path of Romain Grosjean, causing the Frenchman to take avoiding action. Which, let’s be honest, for a team like Ferrari, monetary penalties are meaningless, effectively Ferrari went unpunished for creating a dangerous situation. And, sets a bad precedent, if teams in future get an in-race penalty for a similar infraction, they have a great case to cite this ‘non-race’ penalty. It’s supposed to be a team sport, win as a team, lose as a team, the FIA should not separate team and driver.

Ferrari, got another lucky break, taking advantage of a brief virtual safety car to cover Daniel Ricciardo’s massive engine failure, to pit Leclerc for a very cheap stop. This was before the leading drivers started to come in for dry tires, only to return to intermediates after Leclerc ended up in the wall and out of the race at the final turn, Hamilton also slid into the wall, but managed to keep the wheels rolling to sweep into the pit lane, but his team was not ready for him, resulting in a 50 second stop, and to add insult to injury, Hamilton received a 5 second time penalty for entering the pit lane to the left of the safety bollard.

After serving his 5 second time penalty in the pits, Hamilton rejoined the track in 12th place, but dropped to the rear of the field after harmlessly spinning at turn 1 on lap 53, due to another safety car bunching the pack up, and changing to slicks. It was definitely a nightmare race for the championship leader.

The HONDA powered Verstappen had used his race smarts to be on the right tire at the right time, to be leading the race, overtaking Bottas in the pits for the lead. And Vettel, who I remind you, started from 20th place, battled his way up to 2nd place by the time the chequered flag was waved. The German found some serious pace in his final stint on slick tires, making pass after pass in the closing laps.

Lewis Hamilton and Williams’ Robert Kubica were promoted into the top 10 thanks to the race stewards handing 30 second time penalties to Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi for getting help from their Alfa Romeo team in regard to clutch settings on the grid, which breaches Article 27.1 of the sporting regulations which states: “The driver must drive the car alone and unaided.”  The HAAS drivers, Grosjean and Magnussen have also been bumped up two places to 7th and 8th places respectively as a result.

Article 27.1 baffles me, during the race, we frequently hear over the radio, engineers telling the driver to switch to a specific mode on the steering wheel, such as “yellow, G3”, how is this not a breach of the same rule? Comment below if you know why these instructions do not infringe the sporting regulations.

It was definitely a topsy-turvy race, how often do you see Kvyat, Stroll, Sainz, and Albon in the top six? We all laughed at Bernie Ecclestone for his idea of on track sprinklers to spice up races. Nature did the job during this race with a regular sprinkling of water to keep the drivers on their toes, and fans interested.

German Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:44:31.275
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +7.333s
3. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +8.305s
4. Lance Stroll (Racing Point) +8.966s
5. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +9.583s
6. Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso) +10.052s
7. Romain Grosjean (HAAS) +16.838s
8. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +18.765s
9.  Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +19.667s
10. Robert Kubica (Williams) +24.987s

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