Lewis Hamilton has taken another step towards his seventh world title with a record-equalling ninety-first win at the Eifel Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver now equals Michael Schumacher’s ninety one wins as he extends his lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas to more than two race wins,
The six-times world champion made a better start than Bottas before they both went deep into Turn One and then through the Mercedes Arena Hamilton got pass before running wide allowing Bottas to go ahead and build an advantage at the end of the first lap.
Bottas built the lead as Hamilton and Verstappen managed to pull a twenty-second gap to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by lap nine. As has been the case all season, the Ferrari lacked power and soon found himself dropping back through the pack.
The Finn’s race however only lasted until lap twenty, Bottas then suffered an MGU-H failure which caused him to retire. Then a two-horse race emerged between Hamilton and Verstappen, with the world champion managing to pull a ten second lead with seventeen laps to go.
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was third securing the team’s first podium since 2011, the Australian managed to make a one-stop race work fighting against the Racing Point of Sergio Perez and McLaren’s Lando Norris.
The key to his race was getting past the Red Bull of Alex Albon, on another calamitous afternoon for the British-Thai driver who picked up a five-second penalty for contact with Daniil Kvyat and then retire.
Hamilton said “I don’t know what to say. When you grow up watching someone and you idolise them, really, for the quality of the driver they are and what they are continually able to do as a driver and with his team week on week.”
“Seeing his dominance for so long and I don’t think anyone – especially me – thought he would get close to this record. It’s an incredible honour but I could not have done it without this incredible team. A big thank you and huge respect to Michael.”
Perez running to half distance, before making his first stop, he was passed early on by Ricciardo. But despite having the advantage on pace couldn’t stop the Renault driver claiming his first podium since Monaco 2018.
Perez looked as if he could have caught up with Ricciardo, then the Norris stopped at Ford-Kurve bringing out the safety car. The Englishman had been on a different strategy for a while, but the early development of his ultimately terminal engine problem cost him time and he was running fifth before he stopped.
The Mexican’s teammate Nico Hulkenberg put a superb effort in to finish eighth. Hulkenberg in his third race of the season, delivered points for the team having being drafted in ahead of qualifying after Lance Stroll felt unwell on Saturday.
Carlos Sainz finished fifth for McLaren ahead of Pierre Gasly, who passed Leclerc after the safety car as the Ferrari driver had run behind the top five due to not stopping behind the safety car. But once again Ferrari struggled for pace, Leclerc could only manage seventh ahead of Hulkenberg.
Haas’s Romain Grosjean scored his first points of the season in ninth ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi who scored the final point for Alfa Romeo. Grosjean was aided by the timing of the safety car, that allowed him to get through the remainder of the race on a single stop.
Giovinazzi hung on to tenth after Sebastian Vettel spun, the four time champion then clashed with Kevin Magnussen. The Dane then dropped to thirteenth, finishing behind the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen. For the Finn, his achievement 322 race starts will be overshadowed by Hamilton’s ninety-first win.
Also despite being the most experienced driver in the history of the sport, Raikkonen earnt a five-second penalty for taking Daniil Kvyat’s front wing off as he swept across going into the final corner during the early running. The Alpha Tauri driver was the final finisher in fifteenth, behind the Williams of Nicolas Latifi.