Lewis Hamilton has equalled Michael Schumacher’s all-time F1 victory total of 91 victories after clinching a dominant 2020 Eifel Grand Prix win at the Nurburgring.
Valtteri Bottas initially held the lead until his pit stop at end of lap 13 after locking up at Turn One to concede the lead but the pole-sitter soon afterwards suffered a MGU-H failure which forced him to retire, leaving Hamilton to cruise to victory at Mercedes’ home race despite a late safety car after Lando Norris retired on lap 44 with power failure.
Speaking on achieving his record equalling 91st victory in Schumacher’s home country, Hamilton said; “It’s such an honour. I don’t know what to say. When you grow up watching someone and idolising them. What he was able to continuously do.”
Max Verstappen claimed second ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who claimed his first podium for Renault after fending off Sergio Perez, marking the Aussie’s first top-three finish since he won the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix.
Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc, Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean and Antonio Giovinazzi rounded out the top ten as Kimi Raikkonen finished 12th in his record-breaking 323rd F1 Grand Prix, breaking Rubens Barrichello’s 322 race record which was set at end of 2011 in Brazil.
Hamilton now leads Bottas in the drivers’ standings by 69 points with Verstappen now 14 points behind the Finnish driver in third, whilst Ricciardo moved up to fourth in the order ahead of Perez after retirements for Norris and Red Bull’s Alex Albon.
Mercedes meanwhile lead Red Bull by 170 points in the constructor’s standings whilst 16 points for Racing Point saw them leapfrog McLaren into third, as Renault now sit just two points behind the Woking-based outfit in fifth but with a 34 point gap to sixth-placed Ferrari.
Bottas made a slow start as nearly everyone ran wide at Turn One but ultimately got the traction needed to sweep pass Hamilton through Turn Two to reclaim the lead, as Verstappen and Leclerc held position but Albon lost fifth to Ricciardo after locking up on entry to the Mercedes Arena, which allowed the Aussie to sweep round the outside and make up a position from sixth on the grid.
At the back, Hulkenberg leapt up three places from last position on the grid to 17th as everyone then began to settle into stable running until Albon suddenly pitted from sixth on lap eight, whilst Ricciardo eventually got Leclerc for fourth a lap later after entering Turn One on the outside but performing a switchback to sweep around the Ferrari into Mercedes Arena to gain another position.
Sebastian Vettel lost his car two laps later under braking into Turn One and was sent spinning but recovered the car despite flat spotting his front right tyre, forcing him to switch to the hard tyres.
Bottas then made a similar mistake on lap 13 as he locked up into the first corner which allowed Hamilton to rapidly close in and sweep into the lead through the Mercedes Arena.
Further behind the Silver Arrows on the same lap, Raikkonen clumsily clattered into Russell as he attempted an outside move, launching the Brit’s Williams airborne which damaged the left rear tyre and suspension upon landing. Raikkonen consequently was hit with a five second time penalty.
Russell eventually pulled over further up the road to trigger a brief virtual safety car (VSC) under which Hamilton and Verstappen pitted on lap 17 before Bottas suddenly lost power on lap 18, finding himself quickly passed by Norris, Perez and Ocon before pitting to retire with a MGU-H issue.
Just before the VSC was called, Albon accidentally clipped Daniil Kvyat’s front wing on exit of the final chicane causing the Russian’s front wing to fall away as he drove through the final corner which ruined his race in the end, ultimately finishing last on the road.
Esteban Ocon and Albon retired on laps 23 and 24 for Renault and Red Bull with hydraulic and power related issues respectively as reliability issues began to hit some drivers, with Norris reporting power loss on lap 26 which forced him to try several different power modes whilst losing position to Sainz before eventually retiring on lap 43 at Turn Six to bring out the Safety Car.
Leclerc meanwhile was on an early two-stopper compared to other drivers around him and found himself down in tenth after his final stop at end of lap 35 and fighting his way back through the field, with Ferrari teammate, Vettel freely allowing the Monegasque through into seventh on lap 40 without any challenge into Turn One.
Vettel would then find himself passed by Gasly and Hulkenberg in the following two laps as his hard tyres gave way forcing the German to pit just two laps before Norris stopped and triggered a Safety Car, which meant that Hamilton and Verstappen inherited free pit stops alongside Ricciardo who leapfrogged Perez for an eventual third placed finish after the Mexican pitted after doing a full lap behind the Safety Car.
Hamilton and Verstappen complained under the Safety Car about cold tyres due to slow speeds but when racing resumed on lap 50, Hamilton bolted clear to romp to his 91st F1 victory by 4.470s from Verstappen who fended off a brief challenge from Ricciardo for second which forced the Renault to settle for third and Renault’s first podium since 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix when Nick Heidfeld took third.
Perez and Sainz rounded out the top five ahead of Gasly who had alongside Hulkenberg knocked Grosjean to ninth before the Frenchman passed Leclerc a lap later into Turn One as the top nine then held position to the flag, whilst Giovinazzi clung on for the final point ahead of Vettel.
2020 Eifel Grand Prix Race Result
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||60||1h 35m 49.641|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||60||+ 4.470s|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||60||+ 14.613|
|4||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||60||+ 16.070|
|5||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||60||+ 21.905|
|6||Pierre Gasly||Alpha Tauri||60||+ 22.766|
|7||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||60||+ 30.814|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Racing Point||60||+ 32.596|
|9||Romain Grosjean||Haas||60||+ 39.081|
|10||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||60||+ 40.035|
|11||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||60||+ 40.810|
|12||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||60||+ 41.476|
|13||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||60||+ 49.585|
|14||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||60||+ 54.449|
|15||Daniil Kvyat||Alpha Tauri||60||+ 55.588|
|NC||Alex Albon||Red Bull||23||Power|