Today’s race brought us to the Nürburgring for the first time since 2013 for the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton’s victory today saw the British World Champion equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 career wins, while Max Verstappen landed second place, yet again proving the Red Bull is quickly catching up with the pace of the Mercedes W11.
Daniel Ricciardo stepped back onto the podium for the first time since Monaco 2018, securing third place and his first podium for Renault since joining the French team in 2019.
Lights out saw Hamilton and Bottas battle it out through turn One for the lead where Bottas ultimately got ahead of his teammate. The two Mercedes set the pace once again, and by the end of lap one, Bottas led Hamilton and Verstappen by just over a second.
Verstappen held onto third position after fending off the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and gave Mercedes a brief run for their money.
By the end of lap 13, Hamilton was past his Finnish teammate and into the lead after Bottas’ tyres locked up on the run into Turn One, with Verstappen holding firm in third just .8s behind.
George Russell became the first retirement of the day after losing his left-rear wheel following a collision with Kimi Raikkonen. After a swift investigation by the stewards, the Alfa Romeo driver was dealt a 10-second penalty for causing the Williams’ spin.
The Mercedes in the hands of Valtteri Bottas became the second retirement of the day. After reporting no power and dropping down to 6th place, the Finn entered the pits and was out of the race – his first DNF of the season.
Meanwhile, Hulkenberg, who was competing today for Racing Point in place of Lance Stroll, was battling with Leclerc for P10 and ultimately finished today in an impressive P8.
Esteban Ocon in the Renault was the third retirement of the day after entering the pits with a suspected hydraulic issue with the R.S.20.
At the halfway mark, with just 16 drivers left on the track, Hamilton was 4.5s in the lead ahead of Verstappen, the only driver able to keep any sort of pace behind the Mercedes.
Lando Norris became the fifth retirement on lap 44 after the power in his McLaren cut out completely and forced him into the gravel and out of today’s fight for third.
The safety car was deployed for the first and only time after this incident, bringing the race alive, as the once comfortable gap held by Hamilton had now been closed, with Verstappen eyeing a higher position on the podium.
Racing resumed on Lap 49 and with cold tyres beneath them, Hamilton and Verstappen had their work cut out to gain another comfortable lead, as Ricciardo and Perez began to close in.
With just 2 laps to go, Hamilton was now ahead of Verstappen by 2.9 seconds, with a first-place finish on the horizon, equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 career race wins.
Max Verstappen crossed the line second today, taking the fastest lap point from Hamilton on the final lap, while Daniel Ricciardo secured his first podium for Renault after a nail-biting battle with the Racing Point of Sergio Perez for the last 10 laps of the race.
Perez in the Racing Point fought hard for third but was held off by the Australian in the Renault until the bitter end, finishing fourth ahead of Carlos Sainz in fifth.
Pierre Gasly finished in sixth today followed closely by Charles Leclerc and Nico Hulkenberg in seventh and eighth respectively.
Closing out the points was Romain Grosjean in ninth followed by Antonio Giovanazzi in tenth.
Hamilton remains at the top of the driver’s championship with 230 points, followed by his teammate Valtteri Bottas with 161 and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen sitting comfortably in third with 147 points.
Daniel Ricciardo now sits in fourth place in the driver’s standings with 78 points after today’s stellar third-place finish and following the race said; “It’s been a while! It feels like the first podium all over again.
“It’s been two and a half years or something and the feeling is really nice. It’s fresh.
“Wow. So happy. To see everyone as well, we’ve all waited a long time for this so I think everyone is going to soak it up.”
Hamilton was later presented with one of Michael Schumacher’s crash helmets from 2012 to mark the record-equalling occasion.
He said; “I don’t even know what to say.
“When you grow up watching someone you generally idolise them in terms of the quality of the driver they are but what they are able to continuously do race on race, year on year, week on week.
“There was a game called Grand Prix 2 and I remember playing as Michael and seeing his dominance for so long I don’t think anyone, especially me, didn’t imagine that I’d be anywhere near Michael in terms of records.
“So it’s an incredible honour and it’s going to take some time to get used to it.
“When I came into the pit lane that’s only when I realised I had equalled it, I hadn’t even computed it when I had crossed the line. I couldn’t have done it without this incredible team.
“A very big thank you and huge respect to Michael.”
Racing returns in two weeks time for the Portuguese Grand Prix on October 25, at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve.
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