Max Verstappen has made five pitstops, spun and then won a crazy German Grand Prix while Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton had a nightmare afternoon but still stretched his overall lead to 41 points.
Five-times champion Hamilton finished 11th on track on Sunday before a final twist lifted the Mercedes driver to ninth after post-race penalties elsewhere.
In a wild race of changing fortunes and endless drama, punctuated by crashes and safety car periods, Ferrari’s home crowd favourite Sebastian Vettel charged from last on the starting grid to second place.
Russian Daniil Kvyat, who became a father overnight, was an even more astonishing third to hand Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso their second-ever podium and engine partners Honda a day to savour.
“It was an amazing race to win in the end, it was really tricky out there to make the right calls, and we really had to be focused,” said Verstappen, who took the chequered flag 7.333 seconds ahead of Vettel.
The 21-year-old Dutch driver also took an extra point for the fastest lap of the race.
He is third overall but 63 adrift of Hamilton and 22 behind Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who crashed out six laps from the end while pushing for the podium.
Vettel, who had failed to set a time in qualifying due to a turbocharger issue, could scarcely have expected such a turnaround.
“It was a long race, at some stages it felt like it would never end and it was very tough with the conditions and I’m just happy. It was a lot of fun,” said the four-times world champion.
While Verstappen kept his head, and his car on the road, it all went wrong for Hamilton.
The Briton, under the weather already before the start, led from pole position but smashed his front wing, served a five-second time penalty and survived a wild spin to cross the line out of the points.
Stewards then imposed 30-second penalties on the Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi for starting data irregularities, dropping them from seventh and eighth to 12th and 13th respectively.
Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo’s frustrating first season with Renault continued after he failed to finish due to exhaust problems with his car and teammate Nico Hulkenberg crashed out while in second place.
“I could see a lot of smoke coming out from the back of the car and that was our day done,” Ricciardo said.
“It’s certainly a shame. I watched the rest of the race and it looked a lot of fun out there. I would have loved to have been racing as there were opportunities for big points. It’s disappointing but we’ll move on to next week. It’s a tough overall result for the team, but hopefully Hungary will be better for us.”
Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc crashed on lap 29 while looking likely to take the lead after taking advantage of safety car periods to pit for astute tyre changes.
Canadian Lance Stroll was fourth for Racing Point, after making a brave early switch to slicks that catapulted him briefly into the lead, with Spaniard Carlos Sainz fifth for McLaren.
Thai driver Alexander Albon gave Toro Rosso more points in sixth place with the two Haas cars of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen moving up to seventh and eighth.