The 2019 German was well and truly one for the books and did it conjure possibly the best racing we’ve seen the last couple of years. The race was won by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, ahead of Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and Toro Rosso-returnee Daniil Kvyat.
Like much of the 2019 season Ferrari looked to be on course for their first win, with Vettel and Charles Leclerc topping the timesheets during the three practice sessions. All the promise was there and was it up to the team as a whole to turn their fortunes around and secure that evasive first victory.
Following the third practice session and another dominant performance by Ferrari, it was time for qualifying to begin. Leclerc made his way onto the track and was almost instantly competitive. For Vettel it was a different story. As soon as the German driver exited the pit lane, he was on the radio informing his team about a lack of power.
Limping back to the pit lane, Vettel could not go fast enough and had to drive slowly in an attempt to preserve the engine and minimise the risk of any further damage. As the first session of qualifying progressed, it became abundantly clear that Vettel would not return to the racetrack. Having failed to set a time, Vettel qualified 20th. In doing so, he would start the race from the back of the field.
Leclerc had it all to play for and Ferrari’s hopes were resting on the young Monegasque. He ended Q1 and Q2 in very good positions, giving clear indications that Ferrari had performance in reserve for when the final qualifying session comes around. Sadly, Ferrari’s bad luck was not over.
At the start of Q3 Leclerc’s Ferrari was suddenly hoisted and the team scrambling frantically to sort out whatever issue was at hand. With half of the session already over, Leclerc stepped out of his car and settled for tenth place on the grid. It was a nightmare session for Ferrari as technical issues prevented them from performing at their best. For Vettel it was an issue with the turbo, and Leclerc suffered from fuel pump-related issues.
Much better race
Come race day and Hockenheim is drenched in rain. It was predicted that ‘it could rain on Sunday’, but just how intense the downpour would be no one could guess. The race began behind the safety car, leading the field around the track for a few laps.
After a few minutes the race began from a standing start and was all you could see water being thrown off the tyres. It was magic watching drivers joggling for position, and Hamilton leading the charge from the front.
Ever-changing conditions meant that drivers were always switching between dry and wet-weather tyres, and something was bound to go wrong. Many drivers spun, including Verstappen, but very few could keep away from the barriers. Including Leclerc. The young Ferrari driver went at Turn 16, hitting the barricade and bringing an end to his race. Leclerc was in an ideal position to fight for the win, but that spin at 70km/h when his dry tyres hit a damp spot brought everything to a close.
His team mate, however, had made steady progress throughout the race. Vettel’s charge through the field left everyone in awe as he passed driver after driver and gunning for what looked to be overall victory. Following a few more pit stops and nearing the end of the race, Vettel passed Kvyat for second position. This was the best he could do or hope for, but he redeemed himself for what happened last year.
In 2018, while leading the German GP from the front in rainy conditions, Vettel lost control of his car and found himself stuck in the gravel. This year, he showed that 2018 is long forgotten and he put up a strong showing to hide Ferrari’s poor showing in 2019 thus far.