Verstappen Wins as Honda Earns Double Podium in Germany
MARYSVILLE, Ohio, July 29, 2019 – Sunday’s Formula 1 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim had more plot twists than a Quentin Tarantino movie but in the end, Honda fashioned its best weekend in 27 years as Max Verstappen stormed to a win while Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat placed third to put two Hondas on the podium for the first time since the 1992 Portugal GP.
Pre-race rains ramped up the difficulty on the standing start, and the day became a high-speed chess match from there as teams and drivers dealt with conditions that fluctuated between wet and dry, often without warning. But weather was just the appetizer for a full-course meal that included four safety-car periods, two championship leaders crashing on their own and a 360-degree Danny Sullivan-esque spin by a race winner that made five pit stops!
Verstappen made the first of his stops after just two laps to change to the intermediate tires to accommodate a drying track, which lasted until he pitted on Lap 18 for medium slicks that he hoped would last the remainder of the race. The call was a tough one for the Dutchman, who spun on the harder compound before going back to the intermediate tires as the rains reappeared at the race’s halfway point.
Toro Rosso’s Alex Albon was running in the rain for the first time in his F1 career and the rookie was a strong fourth through the middle stages of the race. His teammate Kvyat benefitted from a gutsy pit call after Nico Hulkenberg brought out the third safety car with 24 laps to go, becoming one of the first runners to switch to slick tires to navigate a drying track. The Russian, who had just celebrated the birth of his first child not 24 hours earlier, used the slick Pirellis to march through the field, passing Lance Stroll to take the second spot.
At this point, all four of the Honda-powered entries were running in the top seven, including holding down the top-two positions. But as a final act, Valtteri Bottas brought out the safety car with a trip into the frontstretch fence, bunching the field for a sprint over the final five laps. The restart put Gasly within reach of Albon, leading to heartbreak for the Frenchman, who hit Albon while trying to pass him for sixth and had to retire with damage.
The restart also put Kvyat within range of Sebastien Vettel, who passed Stroll and Kvyat, demoting Kyvat to third – where he would earn Toro Rosso’s first podium finish since 2008. Albon continued after his contact and finished a career-best sixth.
The teams have just a day or two to celebrate as the series head to Hungary this weekend for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Technical Director, Honda F1
“An absolutely fantastic result, securing our second win of the year with Max Verstappen, but this time extra special, with Daniil Kvyat making it two Honda drivers on the podium. It was a very difficult race, because of the changing conditions between wet and dry and the result is down to the excellent drives from both drivers, spot on strategies from the two teams and great work from both pit crews. Honda really appreciates their efforts. After winning with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing already in Austria, it is particularly pleasing to see Scuderia Toro Rosso on the podium, as they helped us get back on the right road to success last year. We will briefly celebrate on this special day, but immediately focus on next week’s race in Hungary.”
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Start 2nd, Finish: 1st (Second win of 2019, 7th of career)
”To come out on top after a race like that is amazing and for the Team to win for the second time this year with Honda is incredible. I don’t know exactly what happened at the start but it seemed that everyone on the right side of the grid had a bad getaway and low grip. I had a particularly poor start when I released the clutch but stayed calm and followed the Mercedes cars closely. It was hard to pass due to the dirty air and the tires started to struggle as the track dried. From there onwards we always made the right decisions. Even though the first slick tire was maybe a bit hard and I had a few moments, with a 360 spin, I luckily kept going. Once I was back on the Intermediates and in the lead I was able to control the race and really show the pace of the car. The conditions were very tricky and it was all about survival. It was definitely not an easy race and very tricky with the changing conditions. The Team made all the right calls. They were really on top of things and everyone worked so well together. It has been one of my most difficult races and it is great to come out on top. For sure I enjoy driving in the wet but also you need a good car for that. You can find a bit of pace in yourself but today we had both things right and I’m very happy with the result. A big thank you to the whole Team and it has been a crazy but amazing Sunday.
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Start: 4th, Finish: 14th
“That was an insane, crazy race and it just had everything. With the rain, crashes, safety cars and pit stops, it was a lottery and there were a lot of opportunities so I’m quite disappointed not to have made the most of it on my side and not finish the race. Towards the end, I was fighting with Alex during the last few laps and we made contact, which took my front wing off and gave me a puncture, so I had to stop the car. I don’t know what to say but it’s annoying not to score points when you have a race like this. At the start, I had wheel spin so I was slow off the line and I lost a lot of positions into Turn One so it was quite hectic from there. For the Team and Honda, it was great to get Max’s win today and bag another decent amount of points.
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda
Start: 14th, Finish: 3rd
“It’s incredible to be back on the podium in what could be called my ‘second career’. I thought it would never happen again in my life, so I’m so incredibly happy. There’s so many emotions I still need some time to let it all sink in! This achievement is so great for us since it has been 11 years since Toro Rosso’s last podium with Sebastian (Vettel) in Monza. It was such an amazing day and I’m so happy. Thank you to everyone in the team, it was just an incredible day. I was readier than ever to fight for this kind of position. This year I feel more mature, my head is cooler, and I’m readier to fight on top, so I think I proved that today to myself and everyone around here. I hope this will become a habit soon!”
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda
Start: 17th, Finish: 6th (Career best)
It was a good race today! I was a bit scared at the start, learning how the car behaves in the wet around this track, although, I’m really happy with how I performed as it was my first time in these conditions in an F1 car. The pace was really good, we were a bit fortunate and we timed our first pitstop right, and I was really excited racing in P4, I was thinking ‘OK here we go!’ Unfortunately, at the second stop we were caught out and pitted a lap later than Dany to switch from wet tires to dry, so four cars passed us. It’s funny, it’s like a disappointing P6 because we were running in P4 for quite a while. It was an amazing job by the team, the strategy was great and we were able to bounce back from a difficult Qualifying.”