- Lewis Hamilton claims a record-equalling 91st Formula 1 win in the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring
- Briton draws level with Michael Schumacher’s tally, also notching seventh win of season
- Daniel Ricciardo takes first podium since 2018, Valtteri Bottas retires, as Nico Hulkenberg again impresses as deputy
NURBURGRING, GERMANY – As Lewis Hamilton claims a record-equalling 91st Formula 1 win in Germany, what did we learn from this weekend’s Eifel Grand Prix?
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Hamilton ascends (further) greatness
Well it may have taken a fortnight longer than desired, but Lewis Hamilton finally took his latest step in history, winning his 91st Formula 1 race at the Eifel Grand Prix.
Holding off the ever-game Max Verstappen at the Nurburgring, the Briton drew level with Michael Schumacher‘s tally of wins, a feat few ever expected to see.
As the 35-year-old celebrated his seventh win of what now appears to be the latest veritable romp to an F1 title, Hamilton would have been caught off guard however by the gesture made by Schumacher Jr.
With Mick Schumacher himself having opened up a 22-point lead in the Formula 2 championship this weekend – denied his debut practice drive after Friday’s fog – the man set to follow in his father’s footsteps sooner rather than later, handed over one of his old man’s crash helmet’s in honour of the milestone victory.
Hamilton was visibly moved, but it was a momentary chink in the armour which had again been at full-strength in Germany.
Further opening up a 69-point advantage in the standings, the six-time champion can stand alone in terms of a number of wins in Portimao in two week’s time, and looks well set for F1 title number seven soon after.
Bottas left frustrated
His lead is a near 70-point one, after teammate Valtteri Bottas failed to build on his second P1 on the bounce after a power failure forced the Finn to retire in Germany.
After grabbing the initiative from lights out, a lock up on Turn 1 of lap 13, saw Bottas’ race slowly fade to black.
Usurped by the wily Hamilton again, Bottas then fell down the field before his power unit failure saw his Eifel GP hopes go terminal.
His only retirement of the season thus far, Bottas has again played the doting Mercedes teammate, but after his Sochi win had legitimate claims that he could yet deny Hamilton a seventh crown.
Indeed, the early going this past weekend suggested as much, before the divine intervened.
Bottas still holds a 14-point lead over Verstappen; for now at least, second spot once more appears to be the target.
Ricciardo ends podium drought
As Hamilton celebrated his latest milestone in the bracing German air, Daniel Ricciardo was jubilant at the Nurburgring for very different reasons.
Coming home behind both Hamilton and Verstappen, the Australian grabbed his first spot on the podium since Monaco 2018, when the Renault driver took victory in the principality for Red Bull.
After two seasons battling for consistency – and often against his own team’s priorities – the Perth driver has quietly enjoyed a good season.
Recording fourth-placed finishes at Silverstone, Spa and Mugello, Ricciardo has been returning to something close to his best form, still in a far inferior car to both Red Bull and Mercedes.
That will leave McLaren salivating with anticipation of what might be to come in 2021, when Ricciardo makes the move across the Paddock to join up with Lando Norris.
Another spicy ingredient tossed into what is set to be a mouth-watering final season hotpot, before the impending regs change toward the end of 2021.
Hulkenberg champing at bit…
Eifel GP weekend for Nico Hulkenberg became rather more eventful than the German had planned.
As Lance Stroll came down with a nasty stomach virus – so far not relating to coronavirus – the 33-year-old deputised for the third time this season for Racing Point.
Whilst Hulkenberg stood in for Sergio Perez as the Mexican convalesced from Covid-19 earlier this summer, it was this time Stroll struck down by a mysterious lurgy.
Despite failing to progress from Q1 after being thrown in at the last minute, Hulkenberg was voted as Driver of the Day in Sunday’s race, finishing in eighth after surging through the field from the back of the grid.
In this third stint for the soon to be renamed Aston Martin F1, the German again displayed all his skills on a Nurburgring track that had at one stage look set to grow icicles on its’ fringes…
…as Albon again struggles
With RP set to enter a new era next season, Hulkenberg will be left having to look elsewhere for a permanent drive next year.
And, after Alex Albon again suffered a weekend of frustration, the rumour mill has began to turn.
Despite ending his wait for a podium only a few weeks ago, the 24-year-old London-born Red Bull man only has a further three top five finishes to his name this year, that, after capably – but controversially – being subbed in for Esteban Ocon mid-way through last term.
Returning somewhat sheepishly to the pits once more at the Nurburgring, there was an air of inevitability about his latest disappointment.
Hulkenberg’s showings of late have apparently not escaped the attention of Team principal Christian Horner.
With teams across the Paddock set perform one of the biggest domino rallies in terms of personnel at the end of the season, Red Bull might have some difficult conclusions to come to over Albon, should his fortunes not change.
Roll on Portugal.
The 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix takes place at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, over the weekend of the 23 and 25 of October.
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