The 2020 Eifel Grand Prix. WOW. This race was quite different from what we expected, both in a good and a bad way. We didn’t expect that the race would be bone dry with not even a hint of rain. Bottas was absolutely ready to take home the win in the Nürburgring. He was on the way to denying Lewis Hamilton of that tantalizingly close 91st F1 race win. But the Finn was ruthlessly deprived of victory when his car betrayed him. The midfield battle was incredibly tight this race. We definitely didn’t expect that Daniel Ricciardo to pull the result he did when he stormed home in his Renault to take that spectacular podium. The 2020 Eifel Grand Prix was an incredibly historic one in several different ways, and here at F1ntastic.com, we’re going to review it.
About The Nürburgring – The Track That Hosted The Eifel Grand Prix
The Nürburgring. It is EXTREMELY hard to talk about the Nürburgring in only a couple of paragraphs, because I can LITERALLY dedicate an entire post to it. Let me know in the comments below if you would like a post about the Nürburgring in the future. But this Race Review would be incomplete without a bit of an introduction to the Nürburgring. Pretty much any Formula 1 fan would know what the Nürburgring is. It is one of if not the most historic circuits in Formula 1 history. It held its maiden F1 race all the way back in 1927, and has hosted a whopping 54 Grands Prix since then. The Nürburgring’s legacy comes from the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the circuit that hosted the German Grand Prix for several years.
The Nordschleife is the whole area and the whole mountainous area that is around the Nürburgring. The track had lengths of 20.8 to 26km. There were lap times of around 6-11 minutes, which were EXTREMELY long. The track had many variants and was used at many different times in history, and there are several aspects of the Nordschleife that make it so famous. The first is how the track flows through the hills. The track goes up and down, and is full of high speeds.. The adrenaline that flows through a driver and the fans when they see the cars going up and down through the hills and through the naturally banked corners is amazing. The second reason the Nordschleife is infamous is because of the accident.
Since it is far from easy to put good safety measures throughout a massive track and it isn’t easy to add safety in the middle of the forest, there were A LOT of crashes. The Nürburgring Nordschleife has a total of 5 fatalities in Formula 1. This track is 2nd after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 7. The bumpy and heavily undulating track made major challenges for the drivers as the F1 kept developing and making the cars faster. The last major incident at the Nordschleife that really changed the face of F1 was Niki Lauda‘s infamous crash.
1976 was a year that saw both darkness and light. This race was the darkness. Niki Lauda voted against the race taking place due to incredibly unstable weather conditions. The race still went on since most drivers voted for the race to go ahead. At the race, Lauda was coming out of the left-hand kink before the Bergwerk corner. A new magnesium component on his Ferrari’s rear suspension failed, and Lauda lost control of his rear end, and smashed into the barriers. Lauda’s car was full with fuel, and immediately caught on fire.
Lauda had no chance of escaping his car. He was facing temperatures of 800 degrees Celsius for over a minute. Lauda’s scalp, forehead and hands were burned, and he was in a severely critical condition. There was a lot of damage to Lauda’s lungs and tear ducts from smoke and debris, and part of one of his ears was burnt off. It was a horrific crash. 4 other faithful drivers, Arturo Merzario, Lunger, Guy Edwards, and Harald Ertl rescued Lauda, and Lauda survived. It was a miracle. Since then, F1 has never raced at the same circuit. The 1977 German GP saw racing at Hockenheimring. After a few years, there was a brand new Grand Prix circuit right next to the Nordschleife.
This is the track that hosted the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix, and this is the track that carries the revered name of the Nürburgring now. This circuit has 13 corners and has a length of 5.148km. This track has also seen its fair share of moments in F1, but positive ones. Sebastian Vettel won his home Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in 2013, the only time he won the German Grand Prix. And in 2020, Lewis Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher’s record for the most wins in F1. Why don’t we take a look at that now?
Hamilton FINALLY Equals Schumacher’s Record! – And What Better Race To Do It At Than The Eifel Grand Prix!
Michael is, and always will be, a legend.Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton achieved something that he could only dream of when he was a child. When he stormed across the finish line to win the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix, he claimed his 91st victory in Formula 1. Michael Schumacher held the record for most wins in F1, but now, Lewis Hamilton has equalled that record. The German F1 legend was unparalleled for a massive 14 years before Lewis Hamilton won in Germany. Hamilton was set to equal the record at the previous race at the 2020 Russian Grand Prix, but his 10-second time penalty held him back, much to his anger.
This record-equaling win is something that makes the Eifel GP so special; it is even more special since Germany is Schumacher’s home country. Mick Schumacher, the Formula 2 championship leader and the son of Michael Schumacher, gave Hamilton one of his father’s helmets. It was Schumi’s 2012 helmet, the last F1 helmet he ever wore. Nobody ever thought that anyone would ever come near the 7-time world champion’s level in any way, but Hamilton proved everyone wrong.
“It’s not sunk in, that’s for sure. Like all of us I grew up watching Michael win all those Grands Prix and I could not even have fathomed equaling him. Getting to Formula 1 was the first step of the dream and emulating Ayrton. Michael was just so far ahead, it’s beyond my wildest dreams to think that I’m here today having equalled him and I just feel really humbled by the moment and the opportunity that I was given when I was 13… and feel really proud to continue to represent and to have brought this record to Mercedes. I think, hopefully, we’ve got more records to break and make but hopefully, they know it was a good investment – hopefully,” he added.
Hamilton openly expressed his admiration for Schumacher. He explained how difficult it is. Drivers like himself and Schumacher worked so hard year on year, race on race, to be the best. This is truly unbelievable and admirable achievement. I’m sure that Hamilton must be thinking about his next race win. Then, he will not have just equalled Schumi’s record. He would’ve broken it. Let’s also take a look at what the other drivers said about this unbelievable occasion, and then we’ll head to talking about how Bottas’s race went from bad, to worse, to absolutely horrendous in an incredibly short time.
How The Rest Of The Grid Reacted To Hamilton’s Achievement
“It’s an incredible achievement. Ninety-one wins, everyone thought that was almost impossible to reach, right? To be there now, himself, it’s incredible and very impressive. And I’m pretty sure there will be some more victories coming his way – and probably also championships. So, yep, just very impressive. And hard to beat.” – Max Verstappen
“Tip of the hat at the very least! With how much success Lewis has now had, obviously Michael as well… his career now has been well over a decade in the sport and to keep coming back and to show that level of consistency at the front, that’s also not easy. I think us up here I think we understand that. You can have a package and a car to do it, but it’s doing it every weekend when the lights go out. It’s easier said than done. Certainly big respect. I think also the gift that he received, one of Michael’s helmets, that’s one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever seen in the sport, so it’s really nice to see that today.” – Daniel Ricciardo
“It’s unbelievable that Lewis has reached those 91 wins. For me, Michael stands above all, he’s an icon, and personally, equalling that record, and us equalling the Ferrari record last year (of six consecutive constructors’ titles), is almost surreal. But records are here to be broken, and I think that’s what Michael said as well. Lewis is still on his journey, but maybe there is somebody in nursery, or school that will one day go for the Lewis record and that’s how it should be.” – Toto Wolff, Team Principal of Mercedes.
And lastly, let’s look at Sebastian Vettel’s reaction. The 4-time world champion currently has 53 race wins, and is the 3rd best in terms of race wins.
“I can’t respect his efforts enough. It’s been a number in my head that I’d always thought would never be beaten, or equalled. I think we’re generally quite certain that he will exceed this number! Nevertheless, I have to say that Michael will always be my hero, and I think Michael had something about him that I haven’t seen in other drivers so far. It’s probably the fact that I looked up to him when I was a child, and Lewis I didn’t look up to when I was a child because I was racing him, so it’s a different situation going in. But probably in another 10, 15, 20 years’ time, there will be more admiration for that, but obviously, when you’re still active, you’re looking at yourself and not so much at others. But as I said, you can’t cherish him enough for what he has achieved.”
How Valterri Bottas’s Race Went Downhill From A Huge High
Valterri Bottas was shining in qualifying and had a good chance of winning the race. He started on pole and was looking really quick around the twists and turns of the Nürburgring. The race came around, and when the five red lights went out, it wasn’t that good a start for Bottas. The Finn got some wheelspin off the launch, and Hamilton pulled alongside with ease. However, the 2nd phase of the start was a bit better for Bottas, so Hamilton couldn’t overtake him. Hamilton wanted that 91st win, he wanted it so bad after he lost out in Russia. He had the inside line into Turn 1, the better line. Hamilton braked so late that he pushed his teammate off the track at the exit of Turn 1, and he went off the track himself. To be fair to the Brit, nobody made Turn 1 properly.
Everyone’s hearts were in their mouths. We all thought that the battle was over and that Hamilton would fly away and win the race. But once again, Valterri Bottas had to prove us wrong. Bottas swiftly rejoined the track, and now had the inside line for Turn 2. This was the part where he showed much more grit and bravery than we expected. Coming into Turn 2, Bottas braked later than his teammate, got on the power as early as he could, and then he squeezed Hamilton out. It wasn’t a squeeze off the track or a dangerous squeeze. Hamilton just had to leave slow down as Bottas powered ahead to retain his lead of the Eifel Grand Prix.
After a few corners, Bottas had a good lead on Hamilton already. But on Lap 13, things went downhill really fast. Bottas was still in the lead of the race, but he was really struggling with his tires. On his front-right tire, there was a huge amount of graining. In the 2020 British Grand Prix Race Review, I wrote about blistering on tires. I wrote about how blistering on tires is when bits of rubber melt off of the surface of the tire. In graining, strips of rubber are torn off of the tire. But there’s more. That rubber immediately sticks back onto the tire, which has a REALLY hot surface. A really uneven and bumpy surface is the result of graining, and the driver is met with difficulty in braking, cornering, and traction. There is an overall reduction of grip.
As you can see in the image above, Bottas was facing some serious graining on Lap 13, and coming into Turn 1, he faced a MAJOR lock-up. He braked at the normal braking point, but he still locked up on the front-right all the way till beyond the edge of the circuit. Turn 1 is an incredibly wide corner at the Nurburgring, so the extent of his lock-up was huge. Bottas lost a heap of time, so Hamilton easily pulled alongside his teammate at the exit of Turn 1. Bottas rejoined the track after barely avoiding the gravel trap. Hamilton was almost ahead of the Finn when Bottas suddenly rejoined the track. The 6-time world champion had to jerk the steering wheel to the right to avoid hitting his teammate, but Bottas didn’t rejoin the track unsafely.
Hamilton had a lot of momentum into Turn 2. He also had much better tires and was on the normal racing line. Bottas had just rejoined the track, and so his angle into the corner was very acute. Bottas had a worse entry and exit compared to his teammate, and he was swiftly demoted to 2nd place. This was the first event of the race that didn’t serve well for Bottas. 5 laps later, Bottas’s hopes of even a podium at the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix were completely crushed. On Lap 18, Bottas suddenly dropped from P2 to P5.
He came on the radio to Mercedes and reported having no power from his engine. That radio message went at the end of Lap 18, so Bottas came into the pits to retire his Mercedes at the end of Lap 19, meaning he only completed 18 laps of a 60-lap race. That was an incredibly disappointing moment for every F1 fan except for hardcore Hamilton fans. Mercedes later explained the reason for the retirement was an MGU-H failure. Mercedes fitted in a new power unit this weekend, and a failure like this already might result in Bottas taking a grid penalty in a future race. The MGU-H is the Motor Generator Unit – Hybrid. It harvests energy for the driver to deploy to output more power. After that failed, to preserve the engine, Bottas was told to retire the car.
“We could see on the data that the MGU-H, the hybrid element that produces electricity but also turbo control, wasn’t working correctly,” said Mercedes Chief Strategist James Vowles.
“We tried a few switch changes with Valtteri which may bring these systems back – so through the steering wheel, he can put a default code in which may bring back parts of the system. It was clear, though, that it had failed completely, even after the switch changes, and as a result, we boxed the car and stopped it. The reason why we did that is we felt the system failure wasn’t hardware but actually electronic, and the sooner you stop it, the less damage you’re going to do to any of the systems, and the more chance that we will take no penalties with Valtteri as a result. We’ve got a lot of checks to do and we’ll check the systems in Portimao. But hopefully, no further penalties will come as a result of this failure.”
Valterri Bottas understands how “the gap to Lewis is now pretty big in the points, so I would definitively need a miracle, but, as always, there’s no point in giving up, I have to keep the bar high for me and keep trying.”
Let’s see, will Bottas get payback in Portimao at the Portuguese Grand Prix? Let me know what you think about it in the comments below!
The Tight Midfield Battle Rages On With 3 Teams After P3
For the first time since a LONG time, there is a chance for a midfield team to make it into the Top 3 constructors. With the Fall of Ferrari leaving Red Bull to fight the Mercs, 3rd place in the constructors’ is available. 3 midfield teams are tightly locked in a battle for this prestigious achievement this year. McLaren, Renault, and Racing Point. For quite some time, McLaren was right up there in 3rd, and Renault and Racing Point weren’t able to match them or pass them. However, races like the Hungarian GP and the 70th Anniversary GP didn’t turn out well for McLaren. They couldn’t bring home many points, and then races like Spain and Belgium were better, but not good enough. Russia was an absolute disaster for McLaren.
Sainz was out on Lap 1. Norris had damage from the debris from his teammate that brought him into the pits on Lap 1. There were no points for the team. Both Renault and Racing Point were flying high with their drivers well into the Top 10. And after the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix, Racing Point is in 3rd with 120 points. McLaren has 116, while Renault has 114. I feel this battle is going to last all the way till the last race. All the teams are having ups and downs, and since Red Bull are a good 100 points ahead of Racing Point, it’s all for P3.
McLaren is still going through a rough patch with their car performance. Both their competitors are still in top form. If McLaren can get their game together in Portugal and then retain that momentum, they can still have hopes for P3 in this championship. In terms of the drivers’ championship, Ricciardo’s the top of the midfield. The Mercs and Verstappen are the Top 3, so Ricciardo’s an astonishing P4 in the drivers’. He’s closely followed by Perez and Norris behind, who are 5th and 6th respectively. P4 is up for the taking because Albon is struggling a lot at Red Bull so that valuable spot is something that the McLaren, Racing Point and the Renault drivers want to take.
Albon needs to get back on that podium-level form he had in Mugello if has any chance of getting P4 in the drivers’. He’s currently in the standings. It’ll be very worrying for Albon if he continues his current form because he’s really struggling with the RB16. The car is capable, as we’ve seen from Verstappen’s performance. So what can Albon do to extract the best out of his car.n This battle amongst the drivers is another battle that could benefit both the teams and drivers. It’ll be very tight because even one DNF or a finish outside the points can cost both the teams and the drivers dearly. Let me know in the comments below who you think will finish P3 in the constructors’ and P4 in the drivers’?
Ravenous Ricciardo Waits No More For That Renault Podium
The 2020 Eifel Grand Prix is a race that Renault will NEVER forget. They finally proved themselves and joined the other 6 teams to score a podium in 2020. Mercedes and Red Bull are consistently on the podium. Leclerc scored a couple of podiums for Ferrari while McLaren had both their drivers on the podium once each. AlphaTauri had the top step with Gasly in Italy. And Racing Point had Lance Stroll in 3rd at that very same race. Renault FINALLY joined that list in Germany, and both Ricciardo and the team were unimaginably elated with the podium. The last time the French constructors got a podium was way back in 2011. Nick Heidfeld scored a podium in Malaysia that year, and since then it was a 9-year drought. Daniel Ricciardo took a wonderful win at the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix. Since then, he hadn’t stood on a podium step.
“To be honest it honestly feels like the first podium all over again. The feeling I have now is like that really happy shock, I guess,” said Ricciardo has he spoke about this fantastic achievement.
Ricciardo recalled some of the most major events of the race, like how he overtook Alex Albon for P5. And then “Leclerc held on for a few laps and defended well, but then I got him and that set us up. Then Valtteri had a problem and that gave us track position”.
Ricciardo was already in P3 now, but Perez was flying in the Racing Point, ready to pounce and ready to take that podium.
“The Safety Car restart at the end I was very close to getting Max (for 2nd). But us two tussling meant Perez got very close and I thought he was going to get me into Turn 4. It was pretty stressful, but it’s been two and a half years since I had a podium and it’s really nice, you know?”
2019 was a very disappointing year for Renault and Daniel Ricciardo. They lost 4th in the championship to McLaren by a huge margin, and they weren’t able to bring in big points or podiums of any sort. Renault definitely stepped it up this year. They’ve been very consistent in brining more than 10 points in each race. Last year, with 21 races, their total number of points was 91. This year, with only 11 races completed, their total is 114. While Renault’s main rivals have improved significantly as well, Renault’s consistent good results this year might give them the edge over their competitors.
While the championship is quite interesting, it’s time to talk about the part of this topic you all have been waiting for. The tattoo bet. Before the beginning of the 2020 season, Daniel Ricciardo made a bet with Renault team Principal Cyril Abiteboul. If Ricciardo got a podium, Abiteboul would have to get his first-ever tattoo.
“It’s a bit foggy,” said Ricciardo in Barcelona, “but I believe he chooses placement and size, but I choose the design. But we’ll clear that up. But it’s a tattoo and he does not have any, so it’s a big deal for Cyril.”
“It’s going to happen,” confirmed Ricciardo after the podium in Germany. “We’ll have to do some thinking now (about the design), but probably something to do with me, but I think with a German flavour. This is the place we did it so it will have a little tip of the hat to something traditional in Germany as well.”
This is now the end of the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix Race Review. There was plenty to review in this race, and I really enjoyed really going into detail about the major events of this fantastic race. Let me know in the comments below about how you think the drivers will fare through the twists and turns at Portimao. I know that I can’t wait for the Portuguese GP! Stay safe, and stay on the lookout for new posts.