Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2018

2018 German Grand Prix Star Performers

2018 German Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the German Grand Prix weekend. Here’s why.


Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton’s shot at a win seemed over after qualifying, when the Mercedes driver suffered a hydraulic failure with left him 14th on the grid. In the race, he looked set for fourth place after quickly making his way through the midfielders. He did a long first stint on the soft tyres, then switched to ultra-softs before the rain began. Hamilton halved Vettel’s 22-second lead – then the Ferrari crashed out.

When the Safety Car appeared Mercedes initially chose to pit both drivers, but in the confusion Hamilton stayed out. This helped win him the race, as on the next lap Raikkonen pitted to change his 39-lap-old soft tyres. At the restart Hamilton withstood an effort by the fresh-tyred Bottas to take the lead through turns six, seven, and eight thanks. The team then called off the fight.

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Hockenheimring, 2018
Hulkenberg beat the Haas pair
Hulkenberg continued his dominant run of qualifying form over Sainz on home soil and although he couldn’t out-qualify the Haas drivers he beat both in the race. A strong start got him ahead of Romain Grosjean, and he took advantage of Magnussen’s mistake when the rain began to fall Magnussen. Like the Haas drivers Hulkenberg briefly switched to intermediates, then got back onto slicks for the remainder of the race.

Esteban Ocon

Can a driver who started and finished behind his team mate be considered a star? Ocon may have gone out in Q1 – by just 0.018 seconds – but he’d only had one dry practice session due to rain on Saturday morning and Nicholas Latifi driving his car in the first session. From 15th on the grid he was 12th after the first lap, then he undercut Alonso through the pits just before rain began.

Like his team mate he made the right call to stay on slicks, but unlike Perez he didn’t spin. As a result by the time the Safety Car came in he was seventh. Neither Force India was able to keep Grosjean behind, and while Ocon finished behind his team mate, he deserves credit for how he handled a tricky race.

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Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2018
Vettel was the only one to crash out
Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel went into the German GP with a clearly superior car. The first half of the race went mostly to plan, though a longer first stint than Raikkonen dropped Vettel behind his team mate. After complaining several times about how he was destroying his tyres, Ferrari engineered a swap of positions and Vettel opened up a ten second lead. Vettel lost a lot of time to Hamilton when the rain began to fall, and had just matched Hamilton’s pace when he skidded into a barrier, throwing away a precious 25 points.

Lance Stroll

Only Stoffel Vandoorne, with a Mclaren chassis which is not performing correctly, was slower than Stroll in qualifying. Meanwhile Sergey Sirotkin qualified the other Williams 11th. Stroll ran behind his team mate in the race until Williams brought him in first, moving him ahead of Sirotkin via the ‘undercut’. He gambled on intermediates but a brake problem put him out soon afterwards.

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And the rest

Bottas showed why Mercedes signed him for next year as he split the Ferraris in qualifying, and passed Raikkonen for second when the rain fell. He pitted during the Safety Car period and although he suffered a long stop he only lost one place, to Hamilton, which he would have lost anyway. He only had one chance to pass Hamilton before team orders were issued.

Raikkonen had an average weekend after being out-qualified by Bottas, but was in with a chance at the win after the safety car. Could he have held off Hamilton by staying out on older tyres? He pitted for fresh tyres, so we’ll never know.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2018
Raikkonen took his fourth consecutive podium
Fourth looked like the best available for Verstappen, who didn’t even have his team mate to fight with due to Ricciardo’s engine penalties and early retirement. Verstappen didn’t have a lot to lose by gambling for intermediates, as Hamilton would have most likely gotten by regardless.

Despite qualifying behind his team mate and struggling in his first stint after being passed by the Renaults, Grosjean recovered to sixth in fine style. He went from 11th to sixth in the final 11 laps, passing Perez for seventh on the final lap. The Force India driver had a spin in the damp conditions but took advantage of many drivers who pitted for intermediates, taking seventh.

Ericsson was back in the points for the first time since Austria. As usual Leclerc was much quicker in qualifying, but unlike his team mate Ericsson had a clean race.

Hartley scored his second points finish of the season by resisting his team’s call to pit during the rain. He stayed on slicks for the rest of the race and held off Magnussen who was in a much quicker car. Gasly in the other Toro Rosso was the only driver to pit for the full wet tyre and paid dearly.

Unlike Hulkenberg, Sainz did not have Renault’s new front wing. He qualified behind his team mate and a penalty for overtaking under the Safety Car cost him a points finish to Hartley.

McLaren’s struggles continued: Vandoorne qualified last with his aero problem and lost time in the race with a mystery engine glitch. Alonso’s shot at points was ruined after he switched to intermediates despite warning the team it was too soon.

Despite qualifying well, Sirotkin lost multiple places over the first few laps and eventually retired with an oil leak under the Safety Car.

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2018 German Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Josh Holland
    USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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    41 comments on “2018 German Grand Prix Star Performers”

    1. I would not put Vettel into strugglers. Tiny mistake that cost him lots. Comparable to Hamilton’s small mistakes in qualifying, which this article ignored.

      1. @carbon_fibre Are you a fan of the Black Night in the Monty Python – Holy Grail movie?

        1. Tis but a scratch

      2. @carbon_fibre +1

        Vettel had a bad weekend, but not because he struggled in any way. As you said, he made a tiny, tiny mistake which ended in his retirement from the race. It was a good performance from him otherwise.

        1. He struggled in the wet. Doesnt matter how small, those moments of struggling lead to his demise.

      3. @carbon_fibre

        Almost all the drivers managed to avoid crashing in tricky conditions except for Vettel…. hence struggler.

        1. Hamilton was also the only one who broke the hydralics in his own car. But we ignore that because he won the race, is that right?

          1. Bottom line is, he won the race, so yeah. And he did it from 14th.

            The problem is, the team, unlike you, seems to think Hamilton had a steering failure first, which led to the wild ride across the bumps and broke his hydraulics.

            I assume you have telemetry data to back up your accusation that Hamilton broke the hydraulics in his car?

            1. I have all the reasons to distrust official statements from Mercedes.

              My point is, the overall result shouldn’t sway the evaluation of a driver’s performance. Especially when qualifying is taken into consideration.

              Vettel had a great weekend up until that accident. No-one would remember that small slip-up if it happened at a corner with a decent-sized run-off area.

            2. @carbon_fibre So your imagination is more trustworthy than an actual investigation of the telemetry by the team? OK.

              The explanation was pretty much logical too. Why would he go off so much in a Q2 lap, but for a steering issue?

              Anyway, no arguing with people who don’t trust facts.

              No-one would remember that small slip-up if it happened at a corner with a decent-sized run-off area.

              Hamilton would probably have liked it better if Vettel to have kept it on track. Much better to have beaten him on track or see Vettel (almost inevitably) spin off later in front of him.

              Hamilton was already right behind Raikkonen and both he and Bottas would have been a matter of a few more laps when he would have been past. Then he’d be hunting down Vettel.

              Vettel doesn’t really deal well with situations like that. As was demonstrated of course. He tried to keep up with Hamilton and at the end of the second lap he already crashed.

          2. @carbon_fibre

            Hamilton was also the only one who broke the hydralics in his own car

            At this rate we might as well start blaming VET for Bahrain, Australia, and Korea 2010.

          3. @carbon_fibre

            Hamilton was also the only one who broke the hydralics in his own car. But we ignore that because he won the race, is that right?

            We don’t ignore it. He had to start in P14 because of it and yet raced his way to victory.

            Vettel was in the quickest car in the lead of the race (after getting his teammate to move over) and he crashed. All the other drivers managed to avoid racing ending crashes. Hence he’s a struggler.

            You can twist all the facts you’d like and mention Lewis going over bumps as breaking his car.. but he didn’t put it in the wall when all the other drivers managed to avoid it.

            I’m guessing you’re a Vettel fan, but come on man… this is a ridiculous argument.

      4. Hamilton would probably have liked it better if Vettel to have kept it on track. Much better to have beaten him on track or see Vettel (almost inevitably) spin off later in front of him.

        @patrickl And you’re attacking MY imagination?

        You’re blaming me for not trusting facts, but you’re making up your own. Under what exact pressure was Vettel when he crashed? Nothing abnormal.

        Also, it’s not like Vettel won his first championship under immense pressure, did he?
        Please, this made-up fact that Vettel cracks under pressure is nonsense.

        1. @carbon_fibre Ah, so it was coincidence that he crashed after (almost) 2 laps of trying to match Hamilton’s pace? OK.

          Well, Vettel does tend to “slip up” when he’s under pressure. If you insist on taking a trip down memory lane, he would (should) have been WDC in 2009 if he didn’t slip up so much. He crashed 3 times in the first 7 races. Once can happen, two is a lot, but three times?

          Or if you want an analogy to what happened in Hockenheim. Think back of Canada 2011. Button hunting Vettel down on a wettish track and Vettel spins off. OK, he was lucky there that he could make it back to the track but still. Pressure = off.

          1. Ah, so it was coincidence that he crashed after (almost) 2 laps of trying to match Hamilton’s pace? OK.

            Yes! It absolutely was! Why would Vettel worry what Hamilton is doing 20 seconds behind him? Drivers don’t do that. Their race engineers won’t let them do that.

            You can name instances in which, in your opinion, Vettel cracked under pressure, but there must be plenty in which he didn’t. My memory isn’t as good as yours, but he did pretty well under actual pressure in Bahrain this year.

            1. Anthony Blears
              25th July 2018, 22:57

              Hamilton was taking 2 seconds a lap out of Vettel. He was absolutely worried, which is why he started trying to match Hamilton’s time. He did for one lap, and binned it the next.

            2. Because @carbon_fibre Hamilton wasn’t 20 seconds behind ! He cut the lead to just 10 seconds just before Vettel crashed, all in a hand full of laps. That’s what had Vettel worried and caused him to push more. Look at the lap times, Vettel was 2.2 seconds slower 2 laps before he crashed. The next time around Vettel was only slightly slower than Hamilton so he’d picked his pace up ( the first time he’d cot close to Ha,ilyons pace since the rain started ) the next lap he crashes. That to me looks like he just pushed it a little too far under pressure from Hamilton.

          2. Pressure = off.

            You have a weird usage of the “=” sign.

          3. @patrickl

            Ah, so it was coincidence that he crashed after (almost) 2 laps of trying to match Hamilton’s pace?

            Seems to be

            1. Don’t forget drivers usually use the big screens around the track too @davidnotcoulthard all Vettel needed to see was a quick glimpse of Hamiltons laptime/gap to himself and he’d have known he was in trouble. Also, I believe not all messages are broadcast ( not sure if that applies to f1tv ) but the transcript seems to have a few parts which don’t make much sense.

      5. he struggled to win by making a mistake DuH!

    2. Can a driver who started and finished behind his team mate be considered a star?


      1. Ocon a star performer?
        This was probably his worst (least impressive) race this season.

      2. Yes, I agree, it doesn’t matter to me if he made less mistakes: if that still meant starting behind and finishing behind perez you can’t make him a star and not make perez as well, just because ocon is younger it doesn’t mean he’s the new verstappen, to me he looks no better than perez overall.

    3. I would have put Leclerc as a struggler too. He qualified well, but he didn’t have a clean race at all, spinning once and going on the gravel i think multiple times. He finished last effectively (only Alonso was behind in the official classification, but he retired in the pits), even behind Gasly who had the been pranked by his team to use the wet tyres. His much less aclaimed team-mate was solid in 9th.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        25th July 2018, 15:15

        although the team did mess his strategy up, when he got back on to suitable tyres (same as Ericsson but newer), he was under 10 seconds behind Vandoorne. That gap built up to over over 30 seconds when he went off. Then even after this, possibly due to a damaged car, increased to over 60 seconds. Then Alonso and Gasly both overtook him. Even in the first stint, Ericsson was only 3 seconds behind him just before he pitted. Leclercs 2nd stint was very good. The team (or possibly him) called for inters which didn’t work out. But it was what he did after he was back on ultras that would have messed his race up just as much if he was still ahead of Ericsson at the time of going off. So on this occation, I think either Ericsson was better than many think he was, or Leclerc was extermely por in the later stagas of the race. i think it is a bit of both. You would’t loose over 50 seconds behind a car close to the back of the grid on decent tyres unless there was a prblem. But I think he was the cause of it.

        1. Yeah it was a bit of a wet silverstone Massa-esque last stint from Leclerc… Hope we’ll get better stuff from him next time the rain comes.

    4. Neil (@neilosjames)
      25th July 2018, 14:34

      Broadly agree with those. Maybe not Vettel as a struggler, as quite a lot of drivers made similar mistakes… but then, he made his in the wrong place. And I have to admit I didn’t really notice Ocon. But Hamilton and Hulkenberg definitely stood out.

      Oh, and an honourable mention in the strugglers to the Toro Rosso weather forecaster and strategist for the full wets call.

    5. To date I still don’t understand Sainz overtaking under the safety car. No one has really elaborated on it. Anyone know who he overtook, where and why? Was it a soon to be retired Williams? Or dod he not see the SC board in time?

      I’m curious, so any answers, please let me know :)

      1. They showed a brief clip of Sainz following another car (couldn’t tell whose) which drifted off to the left and slowed down suddenly. I assume the driver was distracted– perhaps they were texting at the time. Unfortunately, while they swung so far off the line that Sainz assumed they had an issue, they apparently didn’t leave the track (which would have allowed Sainz to pass).

        I thought the 10 second penalty was a bit harsh, personally.

        1. @grat It didn’t look like Ericsson unexpectedly decelerated on the straight towards the hairpin, though.

        2. Ericsson slowed down unexpectedly and Sainz thought he had a problem, so he passed him.

    6. Why is Bottas not a Star performer. He didn’t perform any worse than Hamilton, and he should get bonus points for obeying the boss.

      1. @coldfly Did Bottas win from P14? I thought Bottas started in P2 and finished in P2. Bottas actually ended up beaten by his team mate who was 16s behind him at some point. In what kind of “bizarro world” is that a similar performance?

        If it had been Bottas who managed to hound Vettel into a crash and then won the race while Hamilton finished in P3 or P4 then you might have a point, but that wasn’t the case. I doubt Bottas would have won since he was never a threat to Vettel. The only reason Vettel had yet another crash was because he tried to keep up with Hamilton.

        Besides, why not Raikkonen as a star then? He at least made it to the end of the race without panicking, pushing too hard and crashing as a result. Started in P3 and finished in P3. So same result as Bottas really. Brought the car home and nothing else. Great performer.

        Plus he should clearly get double (or even triple?) bonus points for being forced to let his team mate past. Plus extra bonus points for being sacrificed strategy wise to try and fool Mercedes into doing something stupid with their strategy too.

        1. Raikkonen is another good addition to the Star list, @patrickl. His Saturday wasn’t that good, but having to let your teammate pass makes up for that.
          And probably Verstappen should be on the Star list as well. Only he and Bottas attempted a real (no team order) overtake on any of the other top team drivers.
          As you know from our previous discussion I do not give a top 3 team driver any credit for overtaking any of the mid field teams last weekend. We all saw that all those overtakes were on the long straight with the help of both DRS and the other drivers making way.

          1. @coldfly Bwahahahaha, you are a hoot. You mean when Bottas “overtook” Raikkonen as Raikkonen was pushed off track by Grossjean as an example for an “on track overtake”?

            Nobody cares about mid field overtakes. Stop pretending that is why people see this for the great performance it was. Even Vettel can do that. He recovered in France to P5. It’s what a driver can do after that.

            The point is that after that, Hamilton still went on to beat Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen and Verstappen even though he had to come back from far behind them.

            His pace was so staggering that he drove Vettel into a crashing when the poor guy was trying to keep up.

            In fact Bottas and Raikkonen were lucky there was a safety car after Vettel cracked, because otherwise it would have been much worse for them.

            All that is impressive. He pretty much embarrassed the whole lot of them with that display of race craft.

            Sort of similar to what Hulkenberg displayed to a lesser extent.

          2. @coldfly Räikkönen was very poor and completely useless once again, but Bottas was quite strong. He only lost the lead because of an extremely slow pitstop (the fact that Sainz unlapped himself while making a pitstop at the same time as Bottas suggests that Bottas would have been in the lead had his stop been better).

    7. Stars: Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Ericsson, and Hartley.
      Strugglers: Ricciardo, Sainz, Mclaren, and Toro Rosso strategy/weather forecast.

      1. I have an opinion
        25th July 2018, 17:58

        I disagree with your assessment of Ricciardo’s performance. Certainly, his *car* struggled which meant he had to start from the back of the grid and ultimately retired from the race. In between these two unfortunate events, he was running a nice stint on mediums and retired from sixth, one place and about 27 seconds behind Hamilton. Had his car endured, he had a chance for the optimum strategy (one pit stop for ultrasofts during SC) and a podium.

        1. No way Ricciardo would have been on the podium under normal circumstances, as he was way too far behind. He wasn’t really bad, but his recovery wasn’t impressive at all. He was just average.
          I must say I’m surprised McLaren and Toro Rosso weren’t included to the strugglers’ list. McLaren has a bit of a history with making poor strategy calls in mixed weather condition, whereas the Toro Rosso tyre gamble was so bad that it wasn’t funny anymore.

          1. I wouldn’t really call ricciardo average, you have 2 factors to consider: mercedes was clearly stronger than red bull here, and hamilton had soft in his recovery, ricciardo medium, if you take the factors together, ricciardo reaching 6th place before halfway the race and before the car gave up was not bad at all.

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