Verstappen wins chaotic German

HOCKENHEIM, Germany: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won a rain-hit German Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday despite a dreadful start after world champion Lewis Hamilton blundered when looking set for victory.
The chaotic nature of the race, with many drivers seeming to underestimate the wet conditions, led to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel producing a home miracle by finishing second having started at the back of the grid. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was third.
It was Dutchman Verstappen’s second victory of the season, the only driver other than a Mercedes to triumph this year, and came after he initially slipped down the pack following a poor start when second on the grid.
“It was amazing to win, it was really tricky out there to make the right calls, you had to be focused,” said Verstappen, who was winner in Austria last month and now has seven race victories overall despite a 360 degree spin at one point under no pressure.
Championship leader Hamilton, who was struggling with illness but still managed pole position on Saturday after a Ferrari technical nightmare, finished 11th and Valtteri Bottas crashed out late on when pushing for the podium in a terrible home race for Mercedes.
Briton Hamilton spun and hit the wall on the wet track and then enduring a botched pit stop before also receiving a five-second penalty for the way he entered the pits.
Hamilton’s advantage over Bottas stays at 39 at the midway point of the season. The next race in Hungary is next weekend.
A power problem meant Germany’s Vettel failed to set a time in the opening Q1 of qualifying on Saturday and had to start his home race from the back of the grid.
Team-mate Charles Leclerc, quickest in second and third practice,meanwhile failed to leave the garage in Saturday’s Q3 due to another engineering failure and started 10th.
Persistent rain meant the cars began behind the safety car for threeformation laps and several drivers moaned on the radio as most thought the track was less precarious than it turned out to be -despite the rain easing during the race.
Race control eventually decided there would be the usual standing start from the grid and the safety car came into the pits.
Verstappen failed to get away cleanly with his Red Bull sliding into action while Vettel made up six places in the first racing lap.
A spin and crash for Sergio Perez then prompted the safety car to quickly return and Vettel immediately pitted with tactics coming into the play with the wet no longer being seen as a big hindrance.
Hamilton and most other cars followed suit in entering the pits together, with a unsafe release of Leclerc drawing oohs from the crowd and a fine for Ferrari.
The safety car went back in after five laps and Leclerc found himself up into fourth position, while Verstappen had recovered to third.
As the rain looked to be clearing, Hamilton was able to pull away at the front.
But the wet appeared to cause chaos with Leclerc first losing grip and hitting the wall to crash out midway through and then Hamilton seemed to do the same, damaging his front wing. The pits were just over the road but the Briton went the wrong side of a bollard to receive his penalty and effectively help hand Verstappen victory.
His Mercedes team had brought out a new white livery for their homerace to celebrate 125 years of their involvement in motorsport as well their 200th Formula One start.
The white mirrored the colours of the old Germany team and the Hockenheim fans were given a treat – even if the excitement was dueto the rain and Vettel’s amazing race rather than Mercedes success.
This could end up being Mercedes’ and Vettel’s final race in front of their home fans with Hockenheim bosses doubtful they will be able to host a German Grand Prix again because of costs and competition on the calendar from new venues in Vietnam and the Netherlands. — dpa