Hamilton equals Schumacher record with Nurburgring victory

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Lewis Hamilton took victory at today’s Eifel Grand Prix after taking the lead from teammate Valtteri Bottas. As the Finn later retired, Max Verstappen ended up in second as Daniel Ricciardo secured Renault’s first podium of the year.

When the lights went out, Hamilton made the better start and was first to go into the first corner. This time around, Bottas had none of it and maintained the outside line, taking back the lead in the subsequent left hander.

Verstappen hoped he could then have a go on Hamilton, but that plan didn’t work out, leaving him third, ahead of Leclerc. Ricciardo moved past Albon into 5th as Norris and Perez both gained a position as Ocon dropped two. Carlos Sainz held position and remained 10th.

Tonio Giovinazzi made the best start and moved up from 14th to 11th. Hulkenberg similarly gained 3 places and progressed into 17th from the back of the grid.

The next few laps saw very few overtakes with the top three continuing to be close together as they rapidly dropped Leclerc at a rate of nearly two seconds a lap. Ricciardo could clearly go faster, but was unable to make a quick pass on the Ferrari driver.

On lap 6, Albon already pitted, changing softs to mediums, and rejoin the track at the very back of the pack, 5s down on Romain Grosjean.

Three laps after that, Ricciardo finally made it past Leclerc after getting the better exit out of Turn 1, and just going that tiny bit faster round the outside through Turns 2 and 3. The Renault driver immediately lapped a full second a lap quicker.

On lap 12, one lap after Vettel spun at Turn 1, Bottas had a major front right lockup and missed Turn 1, enabling Hamilton to take over the lead. Bottas’s tyre was pretty much ruined and he was soon called into the pits. Sadly for him, that would prove of little use, as he’d retire from the race later on after a loss of power.

One lap after Bottas’s adventure, Raikkonen and Russell bumped into one another at the same venue. Russell retired because of it, resulting in a VSC to clear the car. Hamilton, Verstappen opted to pit and change to mediums without losing positions. Daniel Ricciardo was less fortunate and dropped down into 7th during his stop, getting passed by 4 cars who opted to continue running on their softs from the start.

Ocon and Albon were added to the list of retirements even before the halfway point. Ocon was retired with a hydraulic problem while Albon was pulled into the box after what seemed to be a pitstop to exchange his flat-spotted tyres with a new set of mediums. Just after those retirements, Norris ended up with a power problem as well. He kept going and was repeatedly instructed to change settings by his engineer, but his loss of pace forced him to let Sainz past.

In the next stage, many overtakes were seen in the midfield, with Ricciardo staying steady in third as Perez progressed up to 4th, though still with a big gap. That gap was quickly annulled when the safety car was brought out on lap 45 to allow the marshalls to get Lando Norris’s stricken car behind the barriers.

No doubt, this could’ve been solved with a virtual safety car, but it seems like the spectacle was a big factor here.

Anyway, nearly everybody pitted. Grosjean didn’t, moving him up into 7th position and the only one on hard tyres.

Three laps later, the race is on again at the start of lap 49. Hamilton went off into the distance as he powered away while Ricciardo almost caught Verstappen sleeping and threatened to take second. In the end, it didn’t pay off, but at least the Renault driver did what he could.

The first one to gain a position after this SC period was Gasly who passed Leclerc for 6th.

At the front, nothing changed after that, meaning Hamilton equalled Schumacher’s 91 race wins record. Verstappen took fastest race lap on the final lap while Ricciardo secured Renault’s first podium of the year.

Source: f1technical.net; gpblog.com

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