2020 Eifel Grand Prix Star Performers

2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean and Antonio Giovinazzi were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Eifel Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Nico Hulkenberg

Not since Paul di Resta substituted for Felipe Massa at the Hungaroring three years ago has a driver jumped into a car in as short notice as Hulkenberg did. Back in a heavily updated version of the car he last drove in August, he was pretty much up to pace by the end of qualifying, and played his way in smartly during the race.

Hulkenberg picked up three places at the start, made a few passes in his first stint, and continued his progress over the final laps to come home a fine eighth. Yes, team mate Perez qualified and finished ahead of him, but given Hulkenberg’s considerable disadvantage he deserves special mention.

Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo took a very well-earned podium
Daniel Ricciardo has been threatening to put his Renault on the podium all year, and at the Nurburgring the stars finally aligned for him. With Valtteri Bottas retiring and Alexander Albon persistently failing to wring the best from the Red Bull, third was the best on offer for the Renault, and he took it.

Having got past Albon at the start, Ricciardo found a way around Leclerc in the first stint, and was able to take advantage of the Virtual Safety Car to cement his advantage. The later Safety Car period deprived us of seeing a more interesting fight between Ricciardo and Sergio Perez, and the Renault driver held off his rapid rival to the flag.

Romain Grosjean

Grosjean one-stopped to his first points of the year
Haas need days like last Sunday to score points and Romain Grosjean made sure he was at the front of the queue of Ferrari customers – plus, again, Vettel’s works car – to bag points for ninth. He did this despite dropping to the back of the field in a hectic first lap and hurting his hand when he was sprayed with gravel.

Pitting just once, running a 32-lap second stint on hards lifted him into the points positions, and though he couldn’t keep the faster Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg behind he held on for ninth.

Antonio Giovinazzi

This wasn’t Antonio Giovinazzi’s best result of the year but it was surely his best performance, nabbing his first point since the season-opener. He did it thanks to making his first visit to Q2 in 2020, then making a great start which vaulted him to 11th, and spending much of the race keeping Vettel behind.

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Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Nurburgring, 2020
Giovinazzi starred, Vettel did not
The first of two familiar faces in the ‘strugglers’ section. Vettel was left behind by his team mate in qualifying, failing to make the cut for Q3 as he couldn’t make his tyres work in the first sector. That at least conferred on him the advantage of starting the race on a new set of tyres, but after losing out to a fast-starting Antonio Giovinazzi he spun that advantage away. He picked up a place from Kevin Magnussen after the restart but Vettel had precious little to celebrate last weekend.

Alexander Albon

Another driver whose desperately tough season yielded little sign of improvement in Germany. The gap between Albon and Max Verstappen in qualifying was almost half a second – about as good as it’s been all year.

He snatched a brake at the start of the race, badly flat-spotting a wheel and forcing an early pit stop. Albon passed Daniil Kvyat soon after rejoining, but carelessly chopped the AlphaTauri as he rejoined the racing line, leaving his rival with damage. That led to a time penalty which would have further compromised his race, but Red Bull decided to retire him when they noticed his engine temperatures rising rapidly after a stone pierced a radiator.

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And the rest

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Nurburgring, 2020
Hamilton reached the 91 wins milestone
Those who peddle the fiction that Lewis Hamilton has amassed a record-equalling 91 wins by cruising around at the front ahead of an unthreatening team mate should take note of the fact Bottas comfortably out-qualified him last weekend, yet Hamilton turned the tables through his characteristically dogged pursuit of victory, pouncing on the first mistake Bottas made. That plus the VSC did for Bottas’s chances in the race, and his power unit problem all-but killed off the last of his title hopes too.

Max Verstappen could have split the Mercedes drivers had he repeated his Q2 time in Q3. He wasn’t quick enough on the medium tyres to be a serious threat, but was almost within range on the softs.

Perez rose from ninth to fourth, as Lando Norris’s retirement depriving us of a potential fight between the two. Carlos Sainz Jnr used McLaren’s upgrade and, like Norris before him, found it made the car a bit more of a handful, coming in fifth.

Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly, Nurburgring, 2020
Gasly fough this way out of the midfield
Gasly nabbed sixth off Leclerc – who as usual was the better of the Ferrari drivers – and moved within four points of the absent Lance Stroll. His team mate Kvyat’s race was ruined by Albon.

Although he was out-qualified by Giovinazzi, Kimi Raikkonen’s race pace in the Alfa Romeo was good. However he ruined his record-breaking 323rd race start with what can only be described a rookie error, thumping into George Russell’s Williams while running last. That ended a race which was certainly not a nailed-on points-scoring run for the Williams driver, but certainly a missed opportunity.

Nicholas Latifi had only Kvyat’s damaged AlphaTauri behind him at the flag. He followed Kevin Magnussen home, as the Haas driver lost places on worn tyres after the final restart.

Over to you

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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13 comments on “2020 Eifel Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Yeah, that seems accurate to me.

  2. Stars: RIC, HUL, GRO, and GIO.
    Strugglers: ALB, VET, RAI, and LEC.

    1. Agree that adding kimi makes sense, but really not sure why you include Leclerc.

      I would also say Giovinazzi just did an OK job in the race, same with Ricciardo really. Both benefited somewhat. I think the main stand outs were Hulkenberg due to the situation and actually Grosjean too for his performance and being the only one to make a one stop work – and he didn’t even get a free pit stop.

    2. How can Leclerc be a struggler? He was fourth in qualifying with the 11th/12th fastest car, then still finished seventh even though he was slightly unlucky with the safety car. Surely that is closer to being a star than a struggler.

      1. There are only 10 cars though, are you including the safety car? If so you could be right.

        1. I meant 11/12th meaning that Mercedes is 1st/2nd, Red Bull 3rd/4th etc.
          Using the idea of only ten cars, I think Ferrari is 6th best.

      2. @f1frog Well he qualified 4th, so the car was clearly that fast and then he only finished 7th.

    3. @jerejj as others have noted, the choice of Leclerc as a “struggler” really seems pretty odd – he had a comparatively strong qualifying session, before then going on to finish in a reasonable points position.

      It’s hard to really say that he was “struggling” at any point – what exactly were you expecting from him to class that performance as “struggling”?

  3. Very difficult to argue with anything in the article to be honest! Danny Ric was the star man for me last weekend, the McLaren move isn’t looking the best choice at the moment though (hopefully I’m wrong). Hope the Hulk gets a drive next year, he could really benefit one of the midfield teams

  4. Stephen Higgins
    15th October 2020, 14:06

    Red Bull have to think more carefully about their driver development going forward. Pierre Gasly, a capable young driver, was broken by his time with RB. Gasly clearly has a talent for racing but those pressures were simply too much for him to deal with. It is no surprise that he has performed excellently since returning to AT as he is comfortable with the Italian team, he is not looking over his shoulder at every turn.

    I do not really know where Albon goes if Red Bull choose to replace him with Hulkenberg or Perez. As far as I can tell, there will not be a F1 seat that will be easily available to him. He may have to spend one or two years outside of the sport in a different discipline such as Formula E, IndyCar or WEC.

  5. Underdog day!
    It was nice to see Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Perez and Giovinnazi all doing well. All fighting for a seat next year…

  6. Here is a good reason why you should never ever discredit or diminish Hamilton”s success

    1. And still spamming every topic…

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