A superb Max Verstappen crossed the finish line just two seconds behind the six-time champion. Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo took his first podium with Renault. The French Team hadn’t set foot on the podium since Malaysia Grand Prix 2011, 93 races ago.
Hamilton, the star of the day, continues to enlarge his portfolio of records after achieving a feat that seemed unattainable. It just so happens that the Englishman has accomplished the deed at a legendary track for the Red Baron. The German legend is still the driver with the most wins at the Nürburgring; five in total.
Battle of the Mercedes at the start
As the lights went out, the two black arrows went head to head in a vibrant start, aligning on the track before reaching the first corner. At the curve, Hamilton drew a very wide line, pushing Bottas to the edge of the track in order to take control.
The Finn, however, regained the head of the race shortly after, taking a great turn on the inside at the second corner. It looked as if Bottas’ determination could lead him to victory. Nothing further from what really happened.
With his usual tactic of crushing his opponents with sheer psychological strength, Lewis pressured his teammate until he finally made a mistake on lap 13. The #44 was quick to devour his Scandinavian victim.
Shortly afterwards, Bottas was forced to retire after suffering a loss of power. It was goodbye to the 2020 Eifel F1 GP for the Finn. Hamilton was comfortably leading the race ahead of Verstappen until the safety car was called out following the abandonment of Lando Norris. Suddenly, and with only eleven laps to go, the group had compacted and Hamilton had lost his advantage.
Worse of all, he had to guard himself against the attacks of ‘Mad’ Max, a very unwelcomed travelling companion.
The Briton was not faced by his weakened position and drawing on his usual skill and experience, managed his escape to perfection once the race had resumed. The Dutchman was left powerless to witness Hamilton taking off towards his legendary win number 91.
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) October 11, 2020
Sainz, brilliant but unhappy
At an old-school track, under complex conditions and with practice runs on Friday, drivers could only count on their talent and craft in order to shine on the track. One of those was Carlos Sainz, but the #55, who started 10th, was nonetheless dissatisfied with his final fifth place.
The McLaren driver, ambitious as usual, had his sights somewhere higher on the table. The Spaniard suffered as he witnessed how Renault and Racing Point were overtaking him and how the new aerodynamic package of his MCL35 had become a hindrance.
He had not tried the new package on Friday and the sensations on Saturday had not been at all satisfactory. His skill, and the fact that opponents like Bottas, Ocon, and his partner Norris withdrew, helped him get to fifth, as well as the horrific performance of Alex Albon.
Despite having all the odds stacked against him and knowing that he would have to sweat to get into the point positions, he never gave up, aware as he is of his true potential.
At eleven laps from the finish line and in the midst of a fight between Pérez and Ricciardo, he took over the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. He further had a chance to display his defensive skills, preventing Pierre Gasly from stealing his fifth place. But he could not help but feel a pang of remorse as he saw Ricciardo smile on top of the podium, and realised it could have been him.
Images: Mercedes AMG F1.