Max Verstappen second in thrilling Eifel Grand Prix: 'Good race'
Published on 11 October 2020 by Mike Motilall
Max Verstappen finished second in the Eifel Grand Prix. The Dutchman started third on the grid but benefitted from a mistake by Valtteri Bottas, who later dropped out with an engine related issue. Max drove a solid race and even managed to pull out the fastest time on the final lap, meaning he could now add an extra point to his total. Lewis Hamilton took the victory home and equaled Michael Schumacher’s amount of race wins, which stands at 91. Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the podium on behalf of Renault.
“It was a good race”, says Max after the race. “I tried to follow Lewis after Valtteri dropped out, but Mercedes was a bit too fast. The pace was good, we tried to do our own pace. On the last lap I thought: I’m just going to give it a go and see what happens. We just managed to get that fastest lap and also that one extra point so I was pretty happy with that.”
The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing-driver explains why he, and numerous other drivers, thought that the safety car stayed out too long: “The track is very cold. Even when you leave box the tyres are already cold. I didn’t understand why the safety car stayed out so long, Lando Norris’ car had already been cleared. I can understand they wanted to bunch up the field but that is pretty dangerous with these cars when the tyres are so cold.”
“Only three or four drivers were closely trailing the safety car. The rest was able to do a lap full throttle, so their tyres were up to temperature. That’s a bit unfair and we’ll need to look into that. But the most important thing is that we finished second, where we belonged today.”
Verstappen looks ahead at the coming race, which will be held in two weeks’ time on the Portuguese Portimão: “I am looking forward to it, it’s a nice circuit. But I hope it’s warmer then, haha!”
It’s a bit after two when the red lights go out and the eleventh race of the season gets underway. Max Verstappen gets well off the line and maintains his third place, despite the fact that Charles Leclerc comes to take a peek at him. The entire field gets through the first lap unscathed as Valtteri Bottas is the first to cross the line. Behind the Finn, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo and Alexander Albon round out the top six.
After five laps, Max is still within striking range of Lewis Hamilton. He manages to keep the gap to the dark coloured Mercedes to about a second-and-a-half. The lead on Charles Leclerc, who has his hands full with Daniel Ricciardo, is seven seconds.
On lap thirteen, there is a swap of position at the front of the field. Valtteri Bottas locks up his tyres entering the first corner. Lewis Hamilton sees an opportunity and takes over the lead of the race. Because the Finn flatspotted his tyres, even Max is able to overtake the number 77 Mercedes. Bottas immediately heads to the pits for a new set of rubbers and gets the yellow walled mediums strapped on.
Some time later, we see George Russell’s Williams trackside. The 22-year-old Briton was hit by Kimi Räikkönen entering the first corner. He is forced to retire his car with a puncture and subsequent damages to the rear. Räikkönen is put under investigation by the Stewards and after a brief review of the incident he is slapped with a 10-second time-penalty.
This triggers a Virtual Safety Car till the Williams has been retrieved to a safe spot. Both Hamilton and Verstappen immediately pit to benefit from the situation and limit time loss during a regular pit stop. The duo swap for mediums. Valtteri Bottas is running on fresh rubber at that moment, but is soon in a world of hurt when he runs into engine problems. The issue proves to be severe enough for the Mercedes driver, who started from pole, to report back to his team and is then forced to abandon the race.
On the following laps, Esteban Ocon and Alexander Ocon are also forced to retire from the race. Ocon drops out with what might be a hydraulic issue. Albon leaves the race with an engine related issue. So far the race has claimed no less than four dropouts.
After a hectic first half of the race, race leader Lewis Hamilton builds his lead to Max slowly but surely. Behind both of them, some drivers exchange positions. This results in the top six being formed by Hamilton, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Pérez, Sainz and Norris. The latter has been battling a loss of power as a result of an engine issue, which he ran into on lap 44. Norris is forced to park his car trackside and becomes drop out number five. Race Control then deploys the safety car which stays out until lap 49.
At the restart, Max struggles on the cold tyres and has difficulty keeping Daniel Ricciardo behind of him, but the Dutchman manages to fend off the attack by the Renault-driver and keeps his second spot. The Ossie in turn comes under attack from Sergio Pérez, as he has his eyes set on the final podium spot.
During the closing stages of the race, Lewis Hamilton doesn’t relinquish the lead at all and takes home his 91st career F1-race win. With that he equals Michael Schumacher’s record. Max Verstappen crosses the line in second and even manages to snatch the fastest lap of the race, earning him an additional point. Daniel Ricciardo takes to the podium after well over two years as he finishes third fastest. Sergio Pérez, Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly round out the top six. Charles Leclerc is seventh fastest while Stroll’s stand in driver, Nico Hülkenberg, can look back at an excellent result by crossing the line in eighth.
|2||Max Verstappen||VER||Red Bull Racing Honda||60||+4.470s||19|
|4||Sergio Perez||PER||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||60||+16.070s||12|
|5||Carlos Sainz||SAI||McLaren Renault||60||+21.905s||10|
|6||Pierre Gasly||GAS||AlphaTauri Honda||60||+22.766s||8|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||HUL||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||60||+32.596s||4|
|9||Romain Grosjean||GRO||Haas Ferrari||60||+39.081s||2|
|10||Antonio Giovinazzi||GIO||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||60||+40.035s||1|
|12||Kimi Räikkönen||RAI||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||60||+41.476s||0|
|13||Kevin Magnussen||MAG||Haas Ferrari||60||+49.585s||0|
|14||Nicholas Latifi||LAT||Williams Mercedes||60||+54.449s||0|
|15||Daniil Kvyat||KVY||AlphaTauri Honda||60||+55.588s||0|
|0||Lando Norris||NOR||McLaren Renault||42||DNF||0|
|0||Alexander Albon||ALB||Red Bull Racing Honda||23||DNF||0|
|0||George Russell||RUS||Williams Mercedes||12||DNF||0|