HOLLYWOOD could not have produced a thriller to come within cooee of the German F1 Grand Prix.

A series of stop-start downpours turned the fast, tricky Hockenheim circuit into an ice rink that produced the most amazing spectacle in years.

It was eventually won by Holland’s Max Verstappen, who spun his Red Bull Honda 360 degrees – but still won.

Sebastian Vettel, who started stone last in his Ferrari, put in a terrific drive to grab second spot, while Daniil Kvyat was third in his Toro Rosso.

On the podium, the young Russian accurately summed up the 68-lap race.

“It was like a horror movie, with some black comedy thrown in,” he said. “The race was crazy, an incredible rollercoaster — a bit like my career.”

The race on the 4.57km circuit provided endless surprises.

It knocked both Mercedes out of contention, it had Racing Point’s Lance Stroll in the lead for a while, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg looked pretty secure in second place and the two Haas cars crashed into each other — again — but still finished in the top 10.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz ran off the track three times on the opening lap and again on lap 24, yet recovered each time and put in a classy performance to claim fifth, behind Stroll’s Racing Point.

Sergio Perez, Stroll’s teammate, was an early retirement, skidding into the barriers on the first lap.

Hamilton appeared unassailable  after he zoomed out to an eight-second lead from pole position, but, much to the delight of the partisan crowd, slid off on lap 29 and lost part of his Merc’s front wing.

He made no fewer than six pit stops after that, the first causing comic panic scenes in the Mercedes pit as his mechanics scurried around trying to find a new wing, but didn’t quite recover and finished 11th.

Teammate Valtteri Bottas seemed certain of second place until he whacked into the barriers on lap 56.

Renault too had another miserable day, with Daniel Ricciardo’s car suffering an exhaust problem that stopped him on lap 14, and Hulkenberg, in his best race of the season so far, slid into a barrier on lap 39.

Max Verstappen, who ran fourth for much of the race, kept his composure and brought the huge orange-clad Dutch contingent to its feet with a steady drive — and one hairy spin.

“After that race, I can say that I did it for the crowd,” he said.

“It was really tricky out here to make the right calls. It was all about trying not to make too many mistakes. Very happy with the whole performance today.”

Tyre choice was critical in the changing conditions and some made the mistake of using mediums or slicks, among them Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who was poised for a win until he also slid off.

Two laps from the end Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly drove straight into the back of Alex Albon’s Toro Rosso, and Vettel managed to squeeze past Kvyat.

Albon went on to claim 6th.

Seventh was Kimi Raikkonen in the Alfa Romeo, with teammate Antonio Giovinazzi 8th, Haas’ Romain Grosjean 9th and teammate Kevin Magnussen taking 10th and the final championship point.

Hulkenberg was devastated.

“It’s a tough one to take,” he said. 

“I’m upset for myself, the team and for Renault because they deserved an excellent result today. It’s one of those days where you have to make it stick, and I’m just gutted with how it ended especially in front of the home crowd.

 “We were doing a phenomenal job, strategy was very difficult so it hurts and it will hurt even more tomorrow.”

Daniel Ricciardo said his race was a shame.

“It’s a tough overall result for the team, but hopefully Hungary (next week) will be better for us.”

Results

POSNODRIVERCARLAPSTIME/RETIREDPTS
133Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA641:44:31.27526
25Sebastian VettelFERRARI64+7.333s18
326Daniil KvyatSCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA64+8.305s15
418Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES64+8.966s12
555Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT64+9.583s10
623Alexander AlbonSCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA64+10.052s8
78Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI64+16.838s6
820Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI64+18.765s4
944Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES64+19.667s2
1088Robert KubicaWILLIAMS MERCEDES64+24.987s1
1163George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES64+26.404s0
127Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI64+42.214s0
1399Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI64+43.849s0
1410Pierre GaslyRED BULL RACING HONDA61DNF0
NC77Valtteri BottasMERCEDES56DNF0
NC27Nico HulkenbergRENAULT39DNF0
NC16Charles LeclercFERRARI27DNF0
NC4Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT25DNF0
NC3Daniel RicciardoRENAULT13DNF0
NC11Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1DNF0

Note – Verstappen scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Raikkonen and Giovinazzi had 30 seconds added to their race times for use of driver aids at the start.

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Wet, wet, wet -- Verstappen up to the test

Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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