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Lewis Hamilton victorious from 14th as rain sends Vettel into the barrier at German GP

Written by  Jul 23, 2018

Lewis Hamilton soon put the demons of qualifying behind him as he made the most of a mid-race rain shower to claim an unlikely victory at the German GP from 14th on the grid.

Despite concerns overtaking would be too difficult, the world champion made his way through the field upto fifth in the first 12 laps and then, as two short rain showers intervened, long-time race leader Sebastian Vettel would find himself in the barrier at the Sachskurve, leaving the Mercedes driver ahead to claim a fourth win of the season.

The race began under cloudy but dry conditions with Vettel in complete control as he held the lead into Turn 1 from Valtteri Bottas and would go on to build a gap of around four seconds in a repeat of the first stint at Silverstone.

The main battle on the opening lap was between Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen for third, as the Dutchman got a tremendous slipstream on the run to Turn 6, however, the Finn defended well and the Red Bull was unable to get past.

On a subdued opening lap, with no incidents of note, even Hamilton didn't make any progress until he pulled off two moves on Sergey Sirotkin and Esteban Ocon through the Stadium section.

By Lap 12 though, all the midfield runners had put up little resistance to the Briton's charge and he was up to P5, with Ferrari deciding to react by pitting Raikkonen early to ensure he stayed ahead of the recovering Mercedes.

Also making his way through was Daniel Ricciardo from 19th, having opted to start on the Medium tyres to ensure the longest possible stint with the threat of rain.

The Red Bull driver would get back upto sixth at one stage, once the final midfield runners had pitted, but he would never get far enough to see any benefit of his strategy as a loss of power saw him pull over just before the Stadium section and become the first retirement.

Out front, Raikkonen's pace on the Soft tyre after his early stop put him in the lead ahead of Vettel when the German, sticking to a one-stop strategy, pitted for new tyres some 11 laps later.

Sebastian would close up but would end up sat behind his teammate for several laps, growing increasingly frustrated with lock-ups into the hairpin and radio messages asking to be moved ahead.

Eventually, that order would come but the time lost proved crucial as the weather was about to intervene.

Hamilton would be the last to pit for new Ultrasoft tyres, having started on the Soft, but two laps later the first downpour would arrive at the hairpin causing some drivers, including Verstappen, to scamper onto the intermediates.

Confined to just one corner though, the circuit would never be wet enough all around for the wet compound and instead, the fresh Ultrasoft was giving Hamilton a two-second pace advantage over the field.

A second rain shower would damp the Hockenheim surface just enough to cause drivers to start struggling for grip and it was then that Vettel locked his rears approaching the Sachskurve and would slide helplessly into the gravel and the barrier much to his annoyance.

A Safety Car would be called to clear the stricken Ferrari with Raikkonen and Bottas opting to pit for a second time while Hamilton stayed out after a moment of confusion over the radio.

As a result, he would move into the lead but would have his teammate and the sole Ferrari right behind on new rubber.

When the race resumed, unsurprisingly it was Bottas who had better instant grip and he looked to challenge the Briton into the hairpin and through to Turn 8, soon after chief strategist James Vowles came over the radio to inform the Finn to stay in second, which he would do.

Raikkonen could not get close enough in third with Verstappen also just too far back to challenge in fourth.

The chaos with the weather and Safety Car allowed Nico Hulkenberg upto fifth for Renault as Haas slipped down the field.

Romain Grosjean would recover some places late on to secure sixth for the American team with the two Force India's seventh and eighth, as Sergio Perez led Esteban Ocon.

Marcus Ericsson benefitted from staying on slicks to claim ninth for Sauber with Brendon Hartley taking 10th after Carlos Sainz was given a 10-second penalty for passing behind the Safety Car.

Outside the points, Kevin Magnussen was unable to make the late progress of his Haas partner and was P11 with Sainz dropping to P12 after his penalty.

Stoffel Vandoorne would be 13th as Pierre Gasly bizarrely switched to full wets as the first shower arrived and ruined his race in 14th.

Charles Leclerc would be one of the first to switch to inters and would then struggle back on slicks, spinning at Turn 1 with a perfect 360 before continuing to P15.

Finally, Fernando Alonso would pull into the pits from last in the closing laps as the two Williams joined Ricciardo and Vettel in the retirements section with mechanical problems.

A full finishing order can be seen below:

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