ESPN rounds up the main talking points from a crazy German Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton claimed an unlikely win as title rival Sebastian Vettel crashed out in the rain.
Shock: Lewis Hamilton managing to win in the rain. He started 14th and was hoping for rain to give him a chance of winning, but the way the final portion of the race unfolded was absolutely unbelievable. At first it looked like Mercedes had blown its chance of winning by bringing him in for dry tyres just before it started raining, but the reigning world champion was able to weather the storm (quite literally) and cling on to what must rank as one of the most brilliant wins of his career.
Shocker: Sebastian Vettel crashing out of the lead could be a defining moment in this year’s championship fight. The German had looked comfortable early on, and then slightly agitated while stuck behind teammate Kimi Raikkonen (more on that below), but no-one could have imagined how his afternoon was going to end.
His spin out in the stadium section, right underneath a grandstand of local fans, was as dramatic as his crash out of the Singapore Grand Prix last year — that moment helped wrestle the championship away from him and it’s not difficult to imagine this one doing the same.
Team orders: This race will be remembered for its unbelievable finish, but it should also be noted that it featured two very interesting instances of team orders from the season’s two leading protagonists. Having dropped behind Raikkonen at his first pit stop, Vettel was demanding to be let past the Finn (which made sense, given the fact he had fresher tyres, was on a better strategy, was leading the championship and the fact the team knew rain was incoming. The switch was eventually made, but it was baffling to see Ferrari wait so long to do it.
In the closing stages, after seeing Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas go wheel-to-wheel for the lead after the Safety Car restart, Mercedes intervened. The call to Bottas was to hold station to preserve a one-two that looked like the longest of long shots when we woke up on Sunday morning.
Kimi the faithful rear-gunner: Raikkonen dutifully obeyed Ferrari’s order to move over — but only once they actually told him what they wanted him to do. As Ferrari politely explained strategy options to him, the Finn opened up his radio channel to ask: “Do you want me to let him go? Just tell me”.
More to follow.