Source: China State Council Information Office
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton equaled Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 Formula 1 Grand Prix wins with victory in Sunday’s Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in Germany.
Hamilton’s win also saw him take a giant step towards his seventh F1 world championship, as his teammate and closest title rival Valtteri Bottas failed to score after retiring with engine trouble.
The disruption to the 2020 F1 season caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant the Eifel Grand Prix was a late addition to the calendar, with F1 returning to the Nurburgring for the first time since 2013.
Added to this the fact that the race was run in much colder conditions than usual, and that both of Friday’s practise sessions had been washed out, there was an air of uncertainty for teams and drivers as they began the race.
Starting from pole position in a race he needed to win to eat into Hamilton’s championship lead, Bottas held off the Briton in the opening stages but lost the lead after locking a wheel on lap 13, before pulling off six laps later for his first retirement of the season.
Though a late race safety car period bunched the pack up and caused several drivers to complain that their tyres were becoming too cold, Hamilton was never truly threatened as he crossed the line for his landmark win.
“When you grow up watching someone, you idolise them for what they’re able to do, year on year and race on race,” said Hamilton, who was gifted one of Schumacher’s helmets by son Mick after the race.
“Seeing his dominance for so long, I don’t think anyone – and especially me – thought I’d be anywhere near Michael’s records. It’s an incredible honour.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was the only driver to come close to the Briton on pace, finishing second and also taking home the bonus point for fastest lap. A strong weekend saw Daniel Ricciardo round out the top three, taking Renault’s first podium as a constructor since 2011 and his first since leaving Red Bull in 2018.
Behind the top three, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez finished a solid fourth, followed by the McLaren of Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and Charles Leclerc in his Ferrari.
In an excellent eighth place was Nico Hulkenberg, once again featuring as a last-minute substitute for Racing Point after regular driver Lance Stroll was taken ill on Saturday morning, and the German showed well despite his limited running this weekend.
Haas’ Romain Grosjean took a solid ninth place for his first points finish of 2020, with Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi rounding out the top ten.
Further down the field, Giovinazzi’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished a lowly 12th after an early clash with the Williams of George Russell, but the Finn also made a piece of F1 history by making his 323rd start, breaking Rubens Barrichello’s long-standing record to become the sport’s most experienced driver of all time.
In a race of unusual attrition by modern standards, five drivers failed to see the chequered flag. Following the early retirements of Russell and Bottas, Renault’s Esteban Ocon, the Red Bull of Alex Albon and McLaren’s Lando Norris all pulled off with mechanical trouble, with Norris’ stricken car prompting the late deployment of the safety car.
Following his seventh win of the season, Hamilton extends his lead in the drivers’ championship and now has 230 points. Despite his failure to score, Bottas remains second with 161 points, with Verstappen third on 147.
In the constructors’ standings, Mercedes remain well out in front on 391 points, ahead of Red Bull with 211, with Racing Point moving up to third on 120 points.
The next round of the 2020 season sees Formula 1 visit the Portimao circuit for the first time for the Portuguese Grand Prix on October 25.