To call the 2019 German Grand Prix predictable is an understatement. In fact, it was anything but predictable. Spinouts, crashes, and drama filled Hockenheimring. When the dust settled, we saw two Hondas in the podium, and a brilliant, well-executed recovery drive from Sebastian Vettel.
The weather played a huge part in the excitement. At first, it looked like Mercedes-AMG was going to run away with another win, but things got interesting when Sergio Perez spun out and heavily damaged his car. And then, turn 16 would claim its first victim, Carlos Sainz Jr., narrowly missing the wall during his off-track excursion.
By a quarter of the race, it seemed like the rain was letting up and the track surface was drying. Many gambled for slick tires hoping the road would dry up even more as the race progressed. However, that wasn't the case. Max Verstappen pulled a 360 in the chicane, but it would be Ferrari's Charles Leclerc who would lose out big time on the switch to slicks. He skidded off the track and careened straight into the tire wall and got stuck on the sand trap, effectively ending his race. The incident brought out the safety car and most of the field switched back to intermediate tires.
But the tipping point of the race was Lewis Hamilton who uncharacteristically made two mistakes in a row. He veered off at the same spot as Leclerc, turn 16, damaging his front wing. He then entered the pitlane the wrong way and was handed a five-second penalty following that. It was a disastrous pitstop for him as well, with the wrong tires initially fitted to his car which forced his team to grab a set of intermediates to replace the slicks already on the car.
Racing resumed on lap 34 with Verstappen in the lead, Renault's Nico Hulkenberg in second, and Valtteri Bottas in third. However, it wouldn't take that long until someone crashed in turn 16 yet again. This time, it was Hulkenberg who was running in second prior to skating off the now notorious corner. The safety car was brought out yet again.
Towards the second half of the race, Racing Point took a gamble yet again and went for slicks as the track was beginning to dry out again. It would be a decision that would pay off for Lance Stroll. A few laps after their switch to dry tires, the rest of the field followed. Hamilton then spun out again, this time in turn 1, effectively ruining his tires and his chances for a podium position. When he came in for a new set, he then had to serve his five-second penalty which relegated him to last place.
Now, the top three consisted of Verstappen, Stroll, and Daniil Kyyat, who later passed Stroll for second. Bottas was then chasing Stroll for the final podium spot when he hit a wet patch of track on turn 1. The spin sent him to the wall and heavily damaged his car with less than 10 laps to go. It would be the last safety car period of the race.
All this time, Vettel kept his car clean and was just waiting for the right moment to pounce on the top three. Upon restart, Verstappen pulled away from the pack but Vettel was on the move, dispatching Lance Stroll on the back straight. A few laps later, he caught up to Kvyat and snatched second from the Toro Rosso driver. When the checkered flag waved, the podium place finishers were Verstappen, Vettel, and Kvyat.
It's Verstappen's second win of the season and it inches him closer to second in the driver's championship. Vettel, on the other hand, had climbed up 19 spots to finish second in the wild race. Last but not least was Kvyat, who gave Toro Rosso their second podium finish after over a decade of trying.
As for the top ten, Stroll finished fourth, while Sainz Jr. ended up in fifth. Rookie Alex Albon took home sixth as Haas duo of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen ended up in seventh and eighth respectively. Hamilton salvaged a ninth-place finish while Robert Kubica managed to cling on to get his first point after his return to the sport, as well as Williams' first point of the season.
If that wasn't enough, there was even post-race drama. It was supposed to be the Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi in seventh and eighth, but they were penalized for allegedly having illegal clutches. Now, the two have been classified finishing 12th and 13th. Alfa Romeo Racing is appealing the decision.
This race saw a high rate of attrition, with seven drivers failing to finish. These are Perez (crash), Daniel Ricciardo (engine failure, again), Lando Norris (mechanical issue), Leclerc (crash), Hulkenberg (crash), Bottas (crash), and Pierre Gasly (crash).
There was a lot of action during that race, and Kvyat summed it all up as, “a horror movie with black comedy”.