Holy moly! That Hockenheim race was downright bonkers! It had a little bit of everything F1 fans love to spice things up. Changeable weather conditions, epic recovery drives, terrific midfield battles, pit lane cock-ups, nervy tyre choices, a safety car, team orders (okay, we don’t always like that) – it had the lot. Oh, and the small matter of a random crash that simultaneously dashed and raised the hopes of our two championship rivals. In a race packed with so much drama, who is Top Dog uber alles? After much deliberation (okay, not that much), this week’s dashing dachshund is…
I don’t always go the same way as the official F1 Driver of the Day. I’d love to make controversial choices more often. But this season, my top pick has usually coincided with the viewer vote. Hey, I am a fan after all! And today, I could not ignore Hamilton’s unbelievable drive. After a mechanical glitch in qualifying, he started 14th on the grid. He’s never won a race from there before. In all honestly, I didn’t think he would today. Granted, the first few victims were easy pickings. He’s a bloody quick driver in a damn fast car. Sirotkin, Ocon, even Alonso were never going to put up much resistance.
But for the second race in succession, Lewis lived up to his oft-quoted mantra of ‘never giving up.’ It was a case of Hairpin Hammertime as be dispatched both Renaults and Haas boys to claw his way up to 4th. And all the while, he was pushing hard, showing terrific pace and managing his tyres (necessary evil, still hate it). He knew he had a long way to go on them if he was going to snag decent points, but he couldn’t possibly win. Could he?
SPRECHEN SIE TEAM RADIO?
And then, it rained. It had been threatening the whole race and down it came on Lap 44. Two laps after Hamilton had stopped for new tyres. As had everyone else. To complicate matters it wasn’t wet everywhere on track so everyone was a bit ‘tip-toey’. A few drivers gambled on a quick change to intermediates but it was the wrong call. Hamilton thrives on changeable conditions. He’s no slouch in a downpour either. As others were slip sliding around, Lewis continued to gain ground. All the race needed now was a safety car.
Enter race leader Sebastian Vettel. Seb was odds on for a home victory until the tiniest error saw him crash nose first into the wall. Game over for Vettel – game on for Lewis. The safety car came out and the pit lane went nuts. So nuts, there was some bizarre miscommunication between the Merc strategists and Lewis. The team radio was downright comedic. “In in in in in in!” “Stay out stay out stay out.” It’s not the bloody hokey cokey, guys! In all the mind changing chaos, Lewis broke the pit lane rules and could have lost his hard fought win. Fortunately for him, the stewards only tapped our top dog on the nose and told him to be a good boy in future. The result stood.
SWERVIN-Y IN GERMANY
So, against all the odds, Lewis found himself in P1 as Bottas and Raikkonen pitted under the safety car. He could hardly believe his luck, but there was still work to do. As the man in front, Hamilton had to find the grip level on older tyres and with two feisty Finns hot on his heels. The safety car peeled in and Hamilton immediately found himself under attack from team-mate Bottas. Valtteri was brilliant as he jostled with Lewis for several corners. The lead see-sawed between the two for several corners with Lewis just managing to keep Bottas behind. It was awesome to watch for us, nail biting for the Merc bosses. So poor Valtteri got the call to hold position. The team apologised for making it, and Bottas accepted it with remarkable good grace. With the ink barely dry on his new contract, this was a sharp reminder that Valtteri is not in the title hunt and will doubtless be asked to move over again before the season end. Give that man the Deputy Dog prize for best team player.
With Valtteri called off, Lewis held out for the most unlikely win and a record equalling fourth German GP victory. Afterwards, he described it as the drive of his life. He pushed to the maximum on every lap, even in the tricky conditions and was justifiably ecstatic at the result. Seb may have helped him out, but Lewis’s mega recovery drive sees him back on top of the championship and bags him another Top Dog prize to boot. Wunderbar, Lewis.
And so we go from one Ring to another. Next up, Hungary and only one week to wait! Stay tuned to Badger GP for all the latest happenings as we head to the final race before the summer break. It’s all finely poised – just as we like it! Stay tuned, folks.