F1 German Grand Prix: Championship Leader Vettel heads home
Sebastian Vettel will hope to fare better than Lewis Hamilton did last time out as a Formula One title contender heads home for a second consecutive race.
Hamilton enjoyed home advantage at the British Grand Prix in the prior meeting, but his winning run at Silverstone was ended after an early collision with Kimi Raikkonen.
That allowed Vettel, Raikkonen's Ferrari team-mate, to hold off a Hamilton recovery and stretch his lead at the top of the drivers' standings to eight points at the end of a potentially decisive triple-header.
And now it is the German who will have the crowd on his side at the Hockenheimring, although it is a circuit where he has never previously won.
Vettel triumphed at the Nurburgring in 2013, but the German Grand Prix has generally been a race where Hamilton fares well, having enjoyed three victories previously across the two circuits used in recent years.
Hamilton will undoubtedly be fired up, too, after talk of foul play as Raikkonen hindered the Mercedes man early in Britain, with the team - now trailing Ferrari in the constructors' championship - enduring another weekend to forget.
It mattered little when Hamilton pipped Nico Rosberg, another German rival, in Hockenheim in 2016, as he won the battle but lost the war in a title scrap. Sunday's race could be far more pivotal.
Most podiums at the #GermanGP (current drivers)
5 Alonso ( 2010)
3 Vettel, Raikkonen
1 Grosjean, Bottas, Ricciardo, Verstappen#F1FastFact #F1 pic.twitter.com/lSX9IKDmCC
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 17, 2018
TALK OF THE PADDOCK
A triple-header has the ability to make or break a season and, while Hamilton fell behind Vettel in the title race, Daniel Ricciardo has slipped out of the picture completely.
After the Monaco Grand Prix at the end of May, where the Australian won, there was a 38-point gap between third-placed Ricciardo and the top of the standings. Hamilton declared the title battle a three-way fight.
Since then, Ricciardo has not been on the podium once. He has dropped to fourth overall, now 65 points off the pace, and is looking over his shoulder at Valtteri Bottas and team-mate Max Verstappen.
Given the speculation surrounding his Red Bull future that has been a consistent presence wherever Ricciardo has gone this season, he needs to start delivering again.
"It's good to have a bit of a break after the triple header as things haven't quite gone my way over the last three races," he said. "But I'm looking forward to getting back on track and to turning things around in Germany and Hungary."
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— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) July 17, 2018
1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 171
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 163 (-8)
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 116 (-55)
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 106 (-65)
5. Valtteri Bottas 104 (-67)
1. Ferrari 287
2. Mercedes 267 (-20)
3. Red Bull 199 (-88)
4. Renault 70 (-217)
5. Haas 51 (-236)
F1 SCHEDULE GERMAN GRAND PRIX 2018 (all times local)
Lewis Hamilton will tie Michael Schumacher's record of four German Grand Prix wins with a victory on Sunday.
2016: Lewis Hamilton
2014: Nico Rosberg
2013: Sebastian Vettel