The German Formula One Grand Prix
Hockenheim- That place where Kimi Raikkonen is cursed.
Special liveries are all the rage again, and this weekend the Mercs honoured 125 years of involvement in motorsport (And their 200th Grand Prix entry) by decking out their mechanics in classic overalls, and detailing the front wings of the cars a scraped white, in an ode to their storied history in Grand Prix racing.
Of course, the legend of how the Mercs went from White to Silver is supposedly one of the great desperation moves of all time.
Back in 1934 at the Nurburgring, Mercedes had to drop the weight of their W25 down to the maximum 750kg allowed for Grand Prix racing, so they stripped the cars of their white paint down to the silver aluminium body to make the limit.
Manfred von Brauchitsch won the race, and thus, beleiving the usual good omen business, Mercedes kept the silver, and thus, their cars became the Silver Arrows.
Meanwhile, our Duncraig Dan’s contagious bad luck spread to the lifts after Friday Practice, leaving himself and 10 other drivers stuck for however long.
Dan was struggling for pace all weekend, dropping to a new low of 18th in FP3, as most the field (Outside of the Williams) was within 1.5 seconds.
When Qualifying came around, Ferrari received another kick to the balls in Q1, when Sebastian Vettel lost power on his out lap, forcing him back into the pits, and ultimately Ferrari gave up the ghost, meaning that for the first time since Malaysia in 2017, Vettel was knocked out in Q1, and in his home Grand Prix to boot.
The official reason was a loss of airflow to his turbo unit.
All the while, Charles LeClerc was consistently the fastest driver in Q1 & Q2, as he had been most of the weekend… until he too was struck down by what appeared to be the same issue in Q3.
The Maranello Morons are the most innovative team in world motorsport… at shooting themselves in the face with a rifle.
Further down the field, there was a mere 0.033 between Dan and The Hulk, yet Hulk would reach Q3 in 8th… and Dan would start from 13th, which was about right, given where his times were in practice.
As Hamilton went into the 1.11s to kick off Q3, LeClerc was withdrawn by Qualifying, leaving Max Verstappen to fight an uphill battle against the Mercs.
In the end, Hamilton claimed his 87th career Pole Position, Verstappen in 2nd, Bottas in 3rd, and the likes of LeClerc in 10th, and Vettel starting from stone cold last.
Once again, Mercedes started in prime arse-kicking position.
Sit back and enjoy this long read of what was possibly the craziest race since Baku 2017.
If there was any hope for Seb, history shows you can come from the rear at Hockenheim- Rubens Barrichello won from 18th in 2000 on the old track, Juan Pablo Montoya finished 2nd after starting dead last in 2005, and Lewis Hamilton finished 3rd in 2014 from dead last.
After a disappointing Qualifying, the gods of chaos finally gave the fans what we crave in every Formula One weekend- RAINNNNNNNN!
I noticed on the Sky coverage that Ted Kravitz, like a true Englishman, was absolutely loving the prospect of a wet race.
When the start came around, there was 3 formation laps behind the Safety Car, before Race Director Michael Masi finally decided to start a 64-lap race with the traditional standing start.
Of course, I should needlessly that Michael is a fellow Aussie, who used to be Tim Schenken’s Deputy Race Director for the V8s!
On the start, Hamilton, Bottas and Raikkonen jumped the Red Bull, Raikkonen jumped into 3rd, the Red Bulls struggled, and Vettel made up some 6 spots to 14th, and Danny stayed in 13th.
The action kicked off on Lap 2, when Perez spun into the wall at Turn 11, putting him out of the race, and redeploying Bernd Maylander and the Safety Car.
Vettel was the first driver onto Inters as a result, and most of the field joined him, resulting in utter chaos.
Teams double stacked, LeClerc was released into the path of Grosjean’s Haas, and Ricciardo and Gasly were murdered by stacking cars, being dropped to 17th and 18th, although some drivers stayed out on wets, leaving the field out of order.
Fortunately for the Bulls, Verstappen is an absolute animal in the wet, easily reclaiming 3rd, as drivers like Magnussen and Stroll who stayed out were bashed by all and sundry.
For the next couple of laps, the Top 3 of Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen were absolutely flying in front, putting a couple of seconds per lap on the rest of the field.
Dan had worked his way up to 12th (With Kvyat and Gasly in tow), while the track was drying quickly by Lap 11, turning it into a waiting game for who was going to gamble and pit for slicks first.
And then on Lap 15, Dan’s exhaust said goodbye in a trail of smoke, in yet another crowning achievement for our Froggy friends, and ending another irrelevant weekend for Duncraig Dan.
The brief Virtual Safety Car that resulted allowed LeClerc to pit for fresh Inters in an inspired gamble, and the Monegasque driver was soon taking 3 seconds a lap out of the leaders, and was by far the fastest driver on track.
Hulkenberg did the same thing in his battle for 5th with Raikkonen, and the local hero was soon back ahead of the Alfa.
Most of the field was praying for another shower to hit, as the track seemed reminiscent to be the classic rainy Hockenheim races- Wet in the stadium, and dry down the back.
On Lap 23, Haas stuck their balls to wall with nothing to lose, and pitted Magnussen for slicks, using him as the guinea pig for the rest of the field.
Ferrari did the same thing a lap later for Vettel, and Red Bull decided to take the risk with with Verstappen, pitting him for Medium tyres, hoping to get to the end of the race.
Within a lap, it became apparent that the Mediums were utterly useless in the drying conditions, as Verstappen spun in the stadium section, but was pointing in the right direction by the end.
On Lap 27 Lando Norris lost power in his McLaren and decided to retire, and not even 40m ahead, Stroll slid off at Turn 11 on Softs, and the Virtual Safety Car was back out as the Canadian was able to continue.
It meant another cheap pit stop for Ferrari, who put LeClerc onto the Softs, and got him up to 2nd in what appeared to be another smart strategy change… until LeClerc went wide on his out lap on the ice-like drag strip at Turn 16, slid straight into the wall, and out of the race!
AND THEN HAMILTON WENT OFF A LAP LATER AT THE SAME SPOT, LOST HIS FRONT WING!
THEN HE PULLED INTO THE PITS WHEN THE CREW WEREN’T READY, AND IT TURNED INTO A 50 SECOND LONG PIT STOP, DROPPING HIM TO 5TH!
As Murray Walker would say, anything can happen in Formula 1, AND IT USUALLY DOES!
So after all that utterly incredible carnage, Verstappen pitted for Inters and took the lead, while Hulkenberg in his Renault was up to 2nd, and Bottas was stuck for an extra lap behind the Safety Car on Mediums, before he pitted and dropped to 3rd.
Hamilton was also investigated for going into the pits on the wrong side of the pit bollard, and he was docked a 5 second penalty (Which he would later serve in the pits) by the Stewards.
The championship leader was also investigated for driving “excessively slowly” behind the safety car, which was mysteriously thrown out.
Another very good performance was Alex Albon in the Toro Rosso, having never driven an F1 car in Wet conditions, found himself inside the the Top 5, while Bottas took The Hulk for 2nd, and Hamilton soon joined him to return the podium places.
On Lap 41, it was devastation for Hulkenberg, becoming the latest driver to go wide on the drag strip, leaving him unable to steer when he got back on the throttle, and he could do nothing but slide into the barrier and out of the race, ruining any hope Renault had of snagging their best result of the year.
Verstappen was set to lose his advantage behind the Safety Car, so Red Bull made his 4th stop of the race for a new set of Inters, and in some good work, he managed managed to jump back out ahead of both the Mercs.
Racing Point decided to go for broke, and decided to pioneer the latest move onto slicks, pitting Stroll’s Pink Panther onto a pair of Softs on the fast drying track behind the Safety Car.
On the restart, Albon got mugged after he tried to take Hamilton down the back straight, falling from 4th to 8th, and then ONCE AGAIN, all the drivers went for the gamble on slicks, with Verstappen pitting from the lead, and everyone following suit.
On Lap 48, the amazing success of Racing Point’s gamble became apparent when everyone pitted- The extra lap on slicks had shot Stroll into the lead, although very briefly, as Verstappen was back in front down the back straight, as Hamilton served his penalty, and dropped to 12th.
Kvyatt had also played his cards superbly to jump into 3rd, and was soon right behind the Canadian, and he sailed past on Lap 51 to claim 2nd place, giving the Honda engined Red Bull brothers a 1-2.
Hamilton spun violently at Turn 1 on Lap 53, dropping him to 13th, and seemingly ending his chances of major points when he pitted for new tyres, mainly so he could try and salvage a Fastest Lap bonus point…. which is only paid when you finish inside the Top 10.
And then in his efforts to catch Stroll, on Lap 57, Bottas also spun off at Turn 1, only this time, he ended up straight into the barrier, sealing a very memorable 200th Grand Prix for Mercedes, and causing mass deaths around the world from autoerotic asphyxiation at the thought of Mercedes failing miserably at their home race.
The ultimate height of shame- Making an unforced error and ending your race… Trying to catch Lance Stroll.
On the restart on Lap 62, The Prancing Horse of Vettel moved into 4th, and soon after flew past the Pink Panther of Stroll into 3rd, and not even a few seconds later, Gasly became the seventh and final retirement, when he smashed into the rear of Alex Albon, and retired a few hundred metres later- Albon was able to continue.
He was already on thin ice for under performing, but crikey, with the way the STRs performed today, Gasly would be growing eyes in his ear lobes between now and next weekend.
And then a lap later, Vettel’s epic recovery was complete when he flew past Kvyat down the back straight for 2nd place.
Ultimately, after 2 hours of utter chaos, 25 years after his dad Jos The Boss was almost burned to death at Hockenheim, Verstappen greeted the chequered flag to claim another superb win and a Fastest Lap bonus point, Vettel finished 2nd from dead last on the grid, and Danii Kvyat claimed Toro Rosso’s first podium since Seb won their only Grand Prix at Monza wayyy back in 2008.
And if that radio was anything to go by, the former Russian Torpedo was utterly thrilled.
All in all, that was probably the happiest podium in a long long time- Verstappen coming through a spin and 5 pit stops to win, Vettel coming from dead last in front of his home fans, and Kvyat, after all the rollercoasters he’s been on, and with his daughter having just been born, nailing his first podium since his stint at Red Bull ended in 2016.
It just goes to show… If you want to see some entertaining racing, just add some H2O!
The drama wasn’t finished after the race- Both the Alfas were investigated by the Stewards for a possible start-line breach of Article 27.1- “The driver must drive the car alone and unaided.”
They were found guilty and slapped with 30-second time penalties, promoting Hamilton to 9th and giving him 2 points that he didn’t deserve, but more hilariously… ROBERT KUBICA AND WILLIAMS HAVE SCORED A POINT!
And here’s another funny coincidence- The 7 drivers who didn’t finish were all stuck in the lift on Friday (Dan, Hulk, Bottas, LeClerc Gasly, Norris, Perez)
It’s the first time since Portugal in 1992 (Senna & Berger in their McLarens) that Honda engines have scored a double podium finish… of course, not counting the Mugen-Honda 1-2 that Jordan had at Spa in 1998.
Fun Fact: Mercedes exclusively chose this weekend for Netflix to film their Drive To Survive episode.
Hopefully it’s just a 12 hour loop of them utterly spudding up Hamilton’s pit stop in their gimpy outfits.
On the flip side to all this chaos, it kills me inside knowing that this was the sort of race where Dan could’ve stayed on the road and finished with a superb result (Eg. Hungary 2014)… and yet in the aftermath, not only have Renault incurred a double retirement and lost more ground to McLaren, they’ve now fallen to 6th in the Constructors behind Toro Rosso.
Cyril Abiteboul says there’s positives from the weekend for the French… Not until you get a decent result, there aren’t.
Renault scored 120 points last year- They aren’t going to get close to 100 this year.
Supercars: Ipswich SuperSprint
Track: Queensland Raceway- ‘The Paperclip’
In a more effective effort to handicap the Mustangs, Supercars decided to distribute the ballast on all three manufacturers to lower their Centre of Gravity.
The Commodore will have all its ballast (6.8kg) removed, and the 9kg of ballast was removed from the roof of the Mustang, and composite parts were replaced by steel roof beams.
Utterly typical of Supercars, who just can’t admit that they screwed up and Ford developed the Mustang superbly.
As well as that, it was another milestone for Fabian Coulthard- He turned 37 on Sunday.
Scotty claimed yet another Pole Position, the 100th in the history of Dick Johnson Racing, with the improved Jamie Whincup in 2nd, with the Mustangs of Will Davison and Lee Holdsworth in 3rd and 4th, and The Giz in 5th.
At the start, Whincup had McLaughlin beaten for speed off the line, but Scotty had the inside line into Turn 1 as Davison made it a line of three, but in the end, Whincup won the battle for the lead, as Davo also got past Scotty thanks to a slight bump.
On Lap 11, DJR Penske went for an undercut with an early stop for Scotty but a slow left-front wheel-change effectively ended his chances of a win.
It kind of settled down after that- Jamie led very comfortably, Scotty got back to 2nd, while further down the field, Fabian Coulthard locked up and went off at Turn 3 at the halfway mark, dropping him out of the Top 10.
On younger tyres, Davison took McLauglin for 2nd on Lap 27, and a few laps later, Mostert joined in and moved up to 3rd, leaving Scotty to fend off a fast-finishing Giz to round off the Top 5.
Further down the field, things did get a little bit wild in the mid-pack fight.
In the end, Jamie was back to old his ways, claiming his first win in a billion years (The Sandown 500 last year), with Davison and Mostert in 2nd and 3rd- Davison’s result was 23Red Racing’s maiden podium- While McLaughlin’s 4th placing enabled him to push his championship lead back beyond 300 points to Coulthard, who finished in 10th.
So by my count, that’s the first time Holden have won consecutive races in 2019, the first time all season McLaughin has missed the podium in consecutve races, and the first time since the Grand Prix that DJR-Penske haven’t had a car finish on the podium.
It was a pretty crappy birthday present for Coulthard, who missed out on the Top 10 Shootout after being displaced on Will Davison’s final lap, while Scotty claimed another Pole (The 59th of his career) by a tenth from Mostert, his 13th of the season, equalling his 2018 tally.
Unlike yesterday, Scotty managed to hold the lead at the start in a fierce fight with Mostert, while Nick Percat stuffed the clutch on the grid and dropped down to 21st, as the 65 lap journey began.
Fabian’s crap weekend got crappier on Lap 9, as he fired a pass up the inside at Turn 4 on Anton De Pasquale, locked a brake, and left Anton with nowhere to go but to spin him off the road.
Out in front, Scotty comfortably controlled the race through the pit stops, while the Red Bulls were able to jump Mostert into 2nd and 3rd, but Whincup soon allowed faster Giz to go and hunt down McLaughlin, who was sitting very pretty in the lead.
There was another pit stop disaster for Erebus after their troubles in Townsville, as they failed to fuel Dave Reynolds to the end, falling short by a mere 1L, costing him a Top 10 finish.
The final 10 laps were the kind of action that Supercars has been crying out for in this McLaughlin destruction, as The Giz was closing in on his Kiwi compatriot to be within a second with 5 laps to go, looking to pressure the series leader into a mistake and pull off one of his customary wild overtakes.
But even with a Red Bull crawling up his rear forever, McLaughlin’s poker face never blinked, and held on for his 14th win of the season by 0.5 of a second from The Giz, with Mostert bagging a double podium for the weekend with another 3rd placing, ahead of Whincup.
Scotty’s win also secured the 2019 Manufacturer’s Title for the Blue Oval, with the win being their 17th out of 20 for the season, with 12 still to go.
Scotty was docked $10,000 for that poster (Plus $3,000 for this fully sick skiddie), but he did ask a very valid question, which I believe hasn’t been answered with “Yes”.
So in all, we can take a few things from Queensland- McLaughlin’s grip on the championship actually managed to become so tight that it’s almost purple- 433 points- And at the same time, Triple 8 have definitely improved, and still look like the only Commodore team capable of winning in 2019.