F1: Hamilton Equals Michael Schumacher With Eifel Grand Prix Victory At Nürburgring

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While edging ever closer to a seventh world championship, Lewis Hamilton equaled the great Michael Schumacher in Germany. Image sourced from FIA Editorial Image Pool.

Lewis Hamilton Reigns Victorious In Dramatic Eifel Grand Prix.

The Unimaginable

Lewis Hamilton’s Eifel Grand Prix triumph at the Nürburgring saw him equal Michael Schumacher’s astonishing record of 91 career F1 victories.

“I don’t think anyone, especially me, imagined that I’d be anywhere near Michael in terms of records so it’s an incredible honour and going to take some time to get used to,” said Hamilton.

“A big thank you and huge respect to Michael and his family.”

After the race, Hamilton was gifted one of Michael’s race helmets by the seven-time world champions’ son Mick Schumacher.

Inevitable Adversity

Despite being the eventual victor, early on it was the Brit’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas who looked poised for a second consecutive triumph after retaining his lead off the line.

That came until the Finn locked up into turn one, subsequently allowing Hamilton the opportunity to pass around the outside of the next corner.

In what become a race of attrition, Mercedes were forced to retire Bottas around the halfway mark due to a power unit issue with his W11.

Leaving rival Hamilton with a seventy point lead atop of the championship standings once he crossed the line.

“Unlucky. What can I say?” said Bottas.

“During the VSC [Virtual Safety Car] I started to lose power and it never recovered. It was quite a big loss of power so something to do with the power unit.”

“It was good fun until then.”

Damage Limitation

Max Verstappen held his third place position at the start, with Valtteri Bottas’ failure later on prompting him to second.

Unfortunately for Red Bull, their pace deficit to Mercedes proved too much to overcome.

Forcing them to settle for second at the Nürburgring.

Verstappen did provide some damage limitation as he earned an additional point for his team with fastest lap at the end of the grand prix.

“We finished second where I think we belong today,” said Verstappen.

“I think overall it was a good race. I was just trying to follow Lewis once Valtteri dropped out. The pace was good, so we just tried to do our own race, the Mercedes were just a little bit too fast.”

New Beginnings

Daniel Ricciardo claimed his maiden podium with French outfit Renault in Germany.

The Australian crossed the line in third, subsequently ending the teams nine year podium drought.

Ricciardo: “It’s been a while. To be honest, it feels like a first podium all over again. It’s been two and a half years or something.”

“The feeling, it’s really nice, it’s fresh. Wow, just so happy. To see everyone as well, we’ve all waited a long time for this.”

Seizing Opportunity

Esteban Ocon in the sister Renault failed to see the chequered flag due to a loss in hydraulic pressure while running in the top six places.

Racing Points’ Sergio Pérez utilised his upgrades to full effect, claiming fourth in his first race with the new package.

Behind came Carlos Sainz Jr. in fifth for McLaren, despite not being content with his MCL34’s upgrades.

Sainz: “We have to be fairly happy with fifth and those ten important points. I managed to be consistent on track and took advantage of the opportunities.”

“However, our main competitors finished ahead and seemed to have better pace throughout the race. I never felt completely comfortable with the car, so we need to make sure we understand better the new parts.”

Despite not being entirely comfortable with the balance of his McLaren, Sainz secured a top five finish at the Nürburgring. Image sourced from @McLarenF1 via Twitter.

The Spaniards’ team-mate Lando Norris suffered with sensor issues throughout, bowing out in spectacular fashion as a result of an engine failure late on.

A worrying sign for McLaren as Norris was equipped with a brand new power unit after qualifying.

In sixth and seventh positions were AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly & Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc respectively.

Both taking advantage of the late safety car to recover Norris’ McLaren.

Although, unable to retain his fourth place from qualifying, Leclerc admitted the Scuderia’s strategy hindered their chances of a bigger points haul.

“We struggled massively on the softs, which compromised our race massively,” said Leclerc.

“Then we went for a two-stop startegy which I think was the right thing to do. Quite some good overtakes, which were fun. Seventh was the best we could do.”

Leclerc’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel finished just outside the points paying positions in eleventh.

A spin which battling mid-race forced Vettel into an early stop, dropping him into the lower pack.

“Not the easiest day,” said Vettel.

“In the end I struggled to overtake. It was really difficult once I was close to gain speed on the other cars down the straights.”

Sebastian on whether Ferrari’s chassis upgrades brought to the Nürburgring worked as planned, “It’s difficult to say. I don’t think it was much that we expected and not much that we saw on track.”

“Overall we fell back in the race and we didn’t have the pace that we really wanted.”

The Comeback Kid

Late draftee Nico Hülkenberg finished a superb eight for Racing Point, rising to the points from last on the grid.

The German national only had a mere four laps under his belt after a late call up to  replace Lance Stroll on Saturday morning.

Hülkenberg: “I went out there with the goal of driving as hard as I could and avoiding any incidents, and we managed it well. It felt strange at the start as I’ve not raced around a lot of cars like that for a while.”

“I made up a couple of places and I started to get into a good rhythm halfway through the first stint, which was crucial because we were able to extend it and it helped me get up to speed.”

Nico Hulkenberg arose frome last to eight in a stellar home grand prix for the German on home soil. Image sourced from sourced @RacingPointF1 via Twitter.

“It’s a bumpy track and I’m a bit sore, it was mentally and physically demanding out there, especially with only four laps to get acclimatised before lights out.”

Breakthrough

Haas’ Romain Grosjean took home his first points of the year along with Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi as the duo occupied ninth & tenth individually.

Grosjean managing the feat despite nursing a sore hand after allegedly being struck by gravel from Kimi Räikkönen’s Alfa early on.

Another driver involved with the ‘Iceman’ was George Russell.

Russell believed he was denied a maiden first points finish opportunity after contact with Räikkönen sent him soaring into the air, terminal damage to his Williams.

“It was obviously frustrating,” said Russell.

“I left plenty of space. I think Kimi just locked up behind Sebastian and then lost the rear.”

Sunday’s grand prix saw Räikkönen take over Rubens Barichello’s title of the most experienced Formula One driver. As the 40 year old Finn took to the grid for the 323rd time at the Nürburgring.

Race Highlights

For Michael

On a historical day in our sports history. I hope Michael, wherever he is got to witness today.

Michael not being there in person to congratulte Lewis on equalling a record many thought would stand the test of time drew conflicting emotions.

Michael,

On behalf of Essaar and Formula One fans around the world, I think we can all agree Mick will make one hell of a driver and we hope is doing you proud.

Hopefully we will see you in the paddock again one day.

Keep fighting Michael.

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