German Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton wins after Sebastian Vettel crashes out

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Lewis Hamilton took a sensational victory in a thrilling, rain-hit German Grand Prix as rival Sebastian Vettel crashed out to hand the Mercedes driver an unexpected gift in the championship battle. Vettel had been cruising to victory in his Ferrari ahead of Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas until rain started to fall with just over 25 laps to go.But the weather, which hit only part of the track, turned the race on its head and brought Hamilton into the mix when he had been looking at a fourth-place finish after fighting up from his 14th place on the grid following hydraulic failure in qualifying.
Hamilton began to carve into the advantage of the three leading drivers - Vettel, his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Bottas - as chaos erupted down the field.And then, as the rain became heavier, Vettel lost control at the Sachs Kurve hairpin in Hockenheim's Stadium section in front of tens of thousands of his home fans.He swore over the radio as he took in the potential damage to his title hopes - and Hamilton pulled away at the front after a safety car period for Vettel's crash, ending the race with a 17-point advantage when it looked like he would lose further ground.It was a remarkable result in a remarkable race, which had started as a damage-limitation exercise and ended with his 66th career victory - and one of his best."Get in there, Lewis," his engineer Peter Bonnington said after the race. "Miracles do happen.""Great job by you guys," Hamilton said, but it had been far from smooth sailing for the world champion.
Reaction to a dramatic race at Hockenheim
'Vettel's binned it!' - listen to the moment of Ferrari driver's crash
German GP - full result
How did he do that[/img]
His race was remarkable in a number of different ways. He made his soft tyres last 42 laps despite having to carve through the field from 14th on the grid, and Mercedes decided to pit him for the softest ultra-soft tyres even though they knew rain was imminent.The team were gambling on the rain only hitting part of the track and they were exactly right. Many backmarkers gambled on wet tyres, but the leading runners all stayed out, and Hamilton began to gain on the three men in front of him.It looked at one point as if he had the pace to win even if the rain did not get any worse - but it did.
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Vettel's stricken Ferrari is cleared from the gravel trapVettel was trying to maintain his lead and was pulling away from Raikkonen, who was passed for second by Bottas on lap 52, with 15 laps to go.But then, two laps later, as the rain spread across more of the track, Vettel was slithering through the Stadium, was slightly wide on entry to the hairpin at the centre of it and could not keep the car on track.He slid slowly into the barrier on the exit and punched his steering wheel in dismay, knowing that a potentially decisive moment in the title race had happened through his own mistake.
Mercedes and Ferrari issue team orders
After Vettel's crash, Hamilton was leading behind the safety car from Bottas and Raikkonen but had tyres that were 10 laps older.Bottas challenged him from the re-start with nine laps to go, but Hamilton held him off, began to extend his lead and the Finn was told to "hold position" by chief strategist James Vowles.There was a team orders incident at Ferrari, too.Although Vettel dominated from the start, he ended up ended behind Raikkonen after their pit stops had finished as a result of the Finn stopping much earlier.Vettel sat behind his team-mate but began to complain over the radio that he was being held up and destroying his tyres, saying the situation was "silly".Eventually, after eight laps, chief engineer Jock Clear came on the radio, and asked Raikkonen "not to hold up Sebastian".Raikkonen came back at him and asked what he meant, and eventually said: "Do you want me to let him go[/img]
Vettel went through but there will be questions as to why it took Ferrari so long to make the obvious call.
Listen: 'Valtteri, please hold position'
Driver of the day - Lewis Hamilton
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Who else[/img]
What's next?
The first part of the F1 season ends in Hungary next weekend, where the twisty track could bring Red Bull into the fight for victory, and should favour Ferrari over Mercedes. But after a race like this, who would dare predict a result?
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