Nürburg (AP) – In a goosebumps moment, Lewis Hamilton accepted a special gift from his son after Michael Schumacher’s Formula 1 victory record was set. Mick presented the visibly moved Mercedes driver with a red racing helmet from the famous motorsport icon.
“It’s amazing to be here,” said Hamilton after celebrating his 91st Grand Prix victory on one of Schumacher’s home tracks, of all places. “It’s hard for people to understand how he got those 91 wins and it doesn’t get any easier from the first to the 91st.”
25 years after Schumacher was the first German to be victorious on the traditional course in the Eifel, Hamilton reached this milestone in the Formula 1 comeback at the Nürburgring. “That is unbelievable. It will take me a while to realize that. I have great respect for Michael,” said Hamilton (35). In 2013 he had become Schumacher’s Mercedes successor.
“This is a historic day,” said Daimler boss Ola Källenius on Sunday in praise of his star driver and spoke of “pure goose bumps” during the moving scene between Hamilton and Mick Schumacher when the Englishman wore a helmet from the last Formula 1 season from his father Michael received in 2012: “What he does is unique.” For him, Michael is above all, “he is an icon and personality”, said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, “to set this record is almost surreal”.
With his success in the eleventh race of the season, Hamilton approached the seventh World Cup triumph and the next record for Schumacher. Hamilton also benefited from an engine failure on the Silver Arrow of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who started from pole, in his 150th Grand Prix.
The Dutchman Max Verstappen came second in the Red Bull, while the Australian Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault came third. As feared, Sebastian Vettel couldn’t do anything at his home game in the Ferrari and had to be content with eleventh place. “Of course I’m not satisfied. We could have taken a few points today,” said Vettel contrite.
His compatriot Nico Hülkenberg, on the other hand, scored the points during his next temporary assignment for Racing Point. The Rhinelander raced from the last starting position to eighth. “Not so bad for a half-time worker,” said Hulkenberg, delighted. “I am happy and grateful for the moment.”
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That was also Hamilton, who further extended his lead in the World Championship classification with the seventh win of the season. He now has 230 points, Bottas remains second with 161 points. Verstappen has collected 147 points so far.
When the red lights for a Formula 1 race went out for the first time after 2013, Hamilton sought his chance of victory in the attack. Hamilton turned into the tight right-hand bend after the brief acceleration with a minimal lead over Bottas, both carried it far out, Bottas held against it. Fair, but tough, they race side by side.
Bottas’s advantage: Next came a left turn, he was inside and thus maintained the lead after the gripping duel of the Silver Arrows. Verstappen, who had hoped to split the duo, couldn’t make it, but together the three of them quickly pulled away from the field.
The 13,500 spectators initially had to wait a little longer for the two German pilots. Vettel, who started from eleventh place, struggled to at least get into the top ten after his start was not optimal either. During an attempt to overtake the four-time world champion, he managed to brake and came off the track with smoking tires.
Hülkenberg, on the other hand, started from last place after his blitzen engagement, made up position after position with an advertising trip on his own behalf for a contract in the next year. In the 42nd lap there was even a German duel: The substitute for Racing Point driver Lance Stroll, who had to pass due to stomach problems, was behind Vettel, who had previously complained about his tires. “Hulk” passed the Hessians in the lame Ferrari in the pink car of the future Vettel employer (then as Aston Martin) without any problems. And all of this without any preparation for Hülkenberg.
Something happened at the top too, before that. On the twelfth lap, Bottas braked, Hamilton did not miss this opportunity and overtook his team-mate with another tough maneuver. Debris after a collision ensured a virtual safety car phase. But there was also an alarm in Bottas’ car: “I have run out of power,” the Finn radioed. A short time later I received the notification from the command post: task.
Team-mate Hamilton lost more than two seconds at the next tire change to now pursuing Verstappen, but defended the lead. But it should be really exciting again. When Lando Norris retired in the McLaren, the safety car had to be released, the field moved closer together and the newly fitted tires did not come up to temperature at 16 degrees on the asphalt. However, Hamilton gave the field no chance when the safety car drove back into the garage and drove confidently to the all-time record setting.