Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton equaled Michael Schumacher’s F1 win record by winning Eifel GP from Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo.
It was a feisty start in the F1 Eifel GP at a cold Nurburging as the two Mercedes drivers went wheel-to-wheel at Turn 1 with Valtteri Bottas coming in front of Lewis Hamilton, while Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen steadied himself in third.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc kept fourth but Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was up to fifth after Red Bull’s Alexander Albon locked-up to be sixth as he kept McLaren’s Lando Norris, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Renault’s Esteban Ocon at bay.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz rounded out the Top 10 as replays showed Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen going wide onto the run-off to evade the cars ahead. As he joined, he brought gravel stones onto the track which likely hit Haas’ Romain Grosjean.
The Frenchman complained of getting hit on his finger. At the front, Ricciardo finally got through Leclerc for fourth as Albon was forced to pit due to vibrations from the lock-up. The weather continued to be cloudy as spits of rain started to fall.
Ferrari’s Sbeastian Vettel, meanwhile, spun at Turn 1 while trying to overtake Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi. At the same time, a lock-up for Bottas in the same corner allowed Hamilton to close-up and pass the Finn to take the lead of F1 Eifel GP.
As he did so, Williams’ George Russell suffered a puncture after being tagged by Raikkonen at Turn 1 when both were trying to pass Vettel, who stopped for the hard tyres. The Brit was forced to retire as the Finn was handed a five-second penalty.
The Virtual Safety Car was deployed which gave Hamilton and Verstappen a free stop. They led the way from Norris and Perez – with the latter two not stopping under VSC. Just as the re-started, Bottas complained of no power which ended his Eifel GP charge.
At the same time, Albon collided with AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat at Turn 14. Upon re-start, the Russian went off which allowed the Thai to get by him but while passing, his left-rear touched the front wing of the former which dropped him to last.
Albon was deemed guilty and was handed a five-second penalty but a lock-up at Turn 1 while battling AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly seemingly ended his grand prix as he pitted to retire then after. The team later on confirmed a power unit issue for the Thai.
Another to retire was Ocon, who seemingly had a gearbox issue. It opened up the race for the likes of Renault, McLaren, Ferrari and Racing Point, as Ricciardo moved to third and had Perez and Norris in his fighting range for the last place on the podium.
But Norris had his problems with the fresh power unit as he was asked to manage it all-through the grand prix. He not only lost track position to Perez but also to Leclerc and Sainz. All of this helped the Monegasque, who was right up there in the Top 5 fight.
With Ricciardo in third, Perez started to chase him while battling Leclerc. The Mexican managed to pass the Ferrari racer but he came back to retake fourth. However, the Racing Point driver came back on the next lap to finally assume fourth.
Leclerc then had Sainz on his tail in the fight for fifth as Norris tried to hang on to seventh. As the battles continued, the F1 Eifel GP started to look like a race of attrition, especially with all of the engine manufacturers apart from Ferrari having some problems or the other.
It was not hurting Hamilton and Verstappen, though, as they led the way comfortably, with Ricciardo far aloof in third. The Australian had Perez to check as the Renault driver pitted way before the Mexican in the fight for the final place on the podium.
Sainz was a lonely fifth but his teammate Norris was forced to retire with the persisting sensor issues. A full safety car was deployed which helped Ricciardo with a free stop, even though he lost a place to Perez. Both Hamilton and Verstappen pitted as well.
Perez, though, pitted a lap later as Racing Point understood the threat from not only Ricciardo but also Sainz and others. With the safety car allowing lapped cars to unlap themselves, the leaders were not happy with the cold tyres.
But Hamilton timed it well to lead the F1 Eifel GP as Ricciardo tried a look-in at Verstappen but stayed behind as Perez and Sainz started to close in. Gasly was biggest mover to sixth as he passed Leclerc, who had Hulkenberg right behind for seventh.
Grosjean hung onto ninth after he decided to not stop as Giovinazzi rounded out the Top 10 with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen 11th, Vettel 12th, Raikkonen 13th, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi 14th and Kvyat 15th – the only 15 runners remaining in the grand prix.
The fight outside the Top 10 was supreme as Vettel started to push for a points finish. He went wheel-to-wheel with Magnussen, who missed the final corner in the previous lap to allow the German to get close to him at Turn 1 and pass eventually.
The Dane lost to Raikkonen as well, as their teammates ran in the points position. At the front, though, it was fast lap after fast lap as Hamilton took the Eifel GP victory and equaled Schumacher’s win record of 91 F1 race victories at Nurburging.
He extended his points lead to close in on another record of the German. Verstappen hung on to second – with the fastest lap – as Ricciardo finally got the podium with Renault – a target he set himself before leaving the French manufacturer at the end of 2020 F1 season.
It was Renault’s first podium since returning to F1 as a manufacturer. Perez ended up fourth with Sainz fifth ahead of Gasly and Leclerc, as Hulkenberg came through from 20th to eighth, while Grosjean and Giovinazzi scored points in ninth and 10th.
Vettel was ever closer to 10th, having finished 0.775s behind Giovinazzi, as Raikkonen ended up 12th from Magnussen, Latifi and Kvyat. DNF: Norris, Albon, Ocon, Bottas, Russell.