Lewis Hamilton scored a brilliant victory in a thrilling German Grand Prix while his championship rival Sebastian Vettel crashed out as a rain storm struck Hockenheim.
Vettel had led for the majority of the race from pole position, but slid out of contention from the lead, on lap 52 of the 67 lapped race. The Ferrari driver hit his steering wheel in frustration at the mistake of crashing into the Turn 13 barriers.
Hamilton started P14 and took advantage of the downpour that soaked the circuit in the latter stages that caught out a number of slick-shod drivers – including Vettel – and which led to the safety car to be deployed.
In the chaos, there was an instant reversal of fortune as a Ferrari 1-2 became a Mercedes 1-2 during the rain shower.
All race, the teams were constantly trying to second guess the conditions and most drivers stayed out on dry-weather tyres while the storm passed and the circuit began to quickly dry up.
Valtteri Bottas finished in second position, but had an attempt at overtaking his teammate when the safety car period ended on lap 57.
Bottas got alongside Hamilton at the Turn 6 hairpin, but Hamilton was just able to retain the lead. Just a lap later, Bottas was instructed to hold position.
Kimi Raikkonen took third place, ahead of Max Verstappen. The Red Bull driver took the gamble on wet tyres when the rain started to fall in just one section of the track.
Two laps later, Verstappen had returned back to the pits for dry tyres – the gamble failed – but then the whole circuit was doused, leading to the Safety Car’s deployment.
Nico Hulkenberg was fifth for Renault, ahead of Romain Grosjean’s Haas and the Force Indias. Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Brendon Hartley both benefitted from the chaotic conditions to scoop the final point-finishing positions.
At the start, Vettel led away from Bottas, Raikkonen and Verstappen and was comfortably in control of his home race. By lap 25, Vettel held a five-second lead over Bottas when he came in to pit from ultra tyres to softs.
His Ferrari teammate Raikkonen was the first of the frontrunners to pit on lap 14 and once the first stops were over, The Iceman held a slim lead over Vettel.
But the German was on tyres that were 11 laps fresher and Raikkonen was instructed by engineering director Jock Clear to led Vettel past.
Hamilton started on the soft tyre and made swift progress in the early laps to make his way through the field.
After starting P14, he was up to seventh by lap eight. It was a remarkable comeback drive that has significant implications in the championship battle, as Hamilton retakes the number one spot.
What a difference a day makes for Lewis Hamilton. Pure heartbreak in qualifying following a hydraulics issue. Racing through the field to first position is just incredible. Well done to Hamilton on this triumph.
As for Sebastian Vettel. Feel really sorry for the Ferrari driver. This small mistake will be costly in terms of the championship. Hopefully Vettel can bounce back in Hungary next weekend.
German Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 67 1h32m29.845s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 67 4.535s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 67 6.732s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 67 7.654s
5 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 67 26.609s
6 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 67 28.871s
7 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 67 30.556s
8 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 67 31.750s
9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 67 32.362s
10 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 67 34.197s
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 67 34.919s
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 67 43.069s
13 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 67 46.617s
14 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 66 1 Lap
15 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 66 1 Lap
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 65 Not running
– Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 53 Brakes
– Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 51 Retirement
– Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 51 Spun off
– Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 27 Retirement
1 Lewis Hamilton 188
2 Sebastian Vettel 171
3 Kimi Raikkonen 131
4 Valtteri Bottas 122
5 Daniel Ricciardo 106
6 Max Verstappen 105
7 Nico Hulkenberg 52
8 Fernando Alonso 40
9 Kevin Magnussen 39
10 Sergio Perez 30
11 Esteban Ocon 29
12 Carlos Sainz 28
13 Romain Grosjean 20
14 Pierre Gasly 18
15 Charles Leclerc 13
16 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
17 Marcus Ericsson 5
18 Lance Stroll 4
19 Brendon Hartley 2
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0
1 Mercedes 310
2 Ferrari 302
3 Red Bull-Renault 211
4 Renault 80
5 Force India-Mercedes 59
6 Haas-Ferrari 59
7 McLaren-Renault 48
8 Toro Rosso-Honda 20
9 Sauber-Ferrari 18
10 Williams-Mercedes 4