Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher’s all time Formula 1 win record by taking victory in the Eifel Grand Prix as Verstappen closely followed in the second place. Valterri Bottas retired from the race after suffering a mechanical problem.
Daniel Ricciardo finished third, recording his first podium with the Renault Formula 1 team since he joined them back in 2019. Racing point’s Sergio Perez closely followed Ricciardo and eventually got the fifth position as the pair had a very close battle over the final laps but the fun was later spoilt by the deployment of a safety car.
At the beginning Lewis Hamilton pulled close to his teammate, Bottas as they approached the first corner as the two Mercedes Silver Arrows went deep into the right hander, going very wide to the runoff at the exit as Bottas hung around the outside. This gave him the chance to be in the inside line at Turn 2 left and was able to hold back onto the lead. He was clear of Hamilton in the opening stages of the race as he immediately got out of the DRS range and this made him extend his lead over the next few laps.
Bottas lead however did not extend more than two seconds as he, Hamilton and Redbull’s Verstappen moved clear of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari which was holding off Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen’s teammate Alex Albon. The three leading drivers were the only ones able to achieve 1m32s on the opening stages of the race as they were riding on soft tyres as Leclerc was about 20s off the lead by the time Ricciardo passed him on the outside at Turn 2 on lap 9.
Lewis Hamilton on the other hand, begun narrowing down the gap on Bottas and had already gained 0.3s by lap 12, but Bottas locked heavily at the beginning of the next lap making him go deep at Turn 1. This made Hamilton to take the advantage and overtake Bottas from the outside of the turn and take the lead. Verstappen was also over the rear of Valtteri’s W11 but he pitted at the end of lap 13, to replace his ruined soft tyres with mediums.
Things did not go well for Bottas moments later as the virtual safety car was called in for George Russel to pull off his damaged car, in an incident which was caused when Kimi Raikkonen tipped on to the Williams FW43 on its right hand wheels when he lost his rear end after a close battle with Sebastian Vettel.
The deployment of the safety car meant that Hamilton’s lead would be cut down by Verstappen who had even had a pit stop and would even gain on Hamilton more than Bottas despite Hamilton’s efforts to record lap times on 1m 31s. Things were going from bad to worse for Valtteri Bottas as he fell behind Lando Norris and Sergio perez who were yet to pit as they were running behind Ricciardo who pitted after the deployment of the virtual safety car reporting a power loss on his car.
Bottas later retired on the next lap despite Mercedes issuing a set of reset instructions as his car suffered a suspected MGU-H problem. Verstappen was gaining on Hamilton by two seconds, thanks to the faster pit stops as the two drivers recorded laps on the early 1m 30s but the world champion was able to get a clear lead over Max. He gradually extended his lead taking it to 10s at the end of lap 42 and the attention turned to the fight for 3rd.
Ricciardo pit stop during the deployment of the safety car meant that he would not have to stop up to the end of the race. Perez was putting up a tight battle to overtake him as Lando Norris experienced a power problem that Mclaren could not rectify as they advised over the team radio on settings change instructions.
Sergio Perez was running on the softs for the first 30 laps caught on Leclerc who had pitted after being passed by Daniel Ricciardo and it was his turn to lose time behind the slow Ferrari. By the time he got to the chicane on lap 35, he was 17.5 seconds behind Daniel Ricciardo and quickly started to narrow down the gap. Perez was able to chop off 4 seconds on the Renault over the next five laps but the race was interuppted again in the final quarter of the race when Norris pulled out of the track at Turn 6 after his car started smoking out, a safety car was deployed.
The top 3 cars, Mercedes, Redbull and Renault were called into the pits as Perez initially stayed on the track but later too pitted to change into soft tyres as the others had done. The safety car stayed up to the 50th lap as Hamilton and Verstappen complained on its speed as their tyres were getting cold in the track that was located in the Eifel mountains.
As the race resumed Hamilton had dropped Verstappen at the last chicane as Ricciardo was trying to attack Verstappen at Turn 1 but Verstappen proved unbeatable. The race leaders made laps strong of 1m 28s as Hamilton made stronger laps and was again able to build up his lead. The top positions remained stable as Hamilton finished first making it his record-equalling victory as Verstappen came in second after setting the fastest last lap.
Daniel Ricciardo finished third making this his first podium since winning the 2018 Monaco GP. Sergio prez came in fourth 1.4 seconds later. Carlos Sainz finished fifth ahead of Pierre Gasly, who passed Leclerc after the safety car as he had to run behind them by not stopping after the safety car was deployed.
Nico Hulkenberg rose from last to finish eighth in place of the unwell Lance Stroll – his cause aided by the safety car, which also helped Romain Grosjean take his first points of 2020 as he finished ninth on a one-stopper, holding off Antonio Giovinazzi, who had stopped just before the safety car.
Sebastian Vettel 11th after spinning while trying to pass Giovinazzi in the early stages, and then having a clash with Kevin Magnussen in the final laps (with the Haas driver finishing 13th behind Raikkonen, who was given a 10s penalty for causing the Russell crash, but nevertheless claimed the record for most F1 starts from Rubens Barrichello by taking the start).
Albon and Esteban Ocon were the other non-finishers as they stopped with suspected power unit and hydraulics problems respectively in the pits, with the Red Bull driver having picked up a five-second penalty for taking Daniil Kvyat’s front wing off as he swept across going into the final corner during the early running.
Kvyat finished 15th behind Nicholas Latifi.