It was joy for both Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso as Max Verstappen won and Daniil Kvyat made it two Honda-powered cars on the podium in a remarkable German Grand Prix.
Rain on Sunday meant the race started with four formation laps to test conditions before a slightly shortened race got underway with a standing start. Max and Pierre Gasly both struggled off the line and lost positions, but Max soon moved back up to third place while Pierre started to fight back after losing more ground during early pit stops.
Alex Albon was taking part in his first official wet F1 session and excelled in the early stages, rising to eighth place from 16th on the grid, while Daniil was running in 13th. Changing conditions meant a number of pit stops were required, and Max switched to medium tyres and recovered from a spin before going back to intermediates as Red Bull responded quickly.
Having been attacking Valtteri Bottas, another excellent pit stop during a Safety Car period meant Max was in the lead. In total Max made five pit stops, and kept a cool head while many other drivers made mistakes, pulling away at the front to take a second victory in three races.
A brave strategic call from Toro Rosso and Daniil saw him switch to slick tyres at the end of a third Safety Car period with 20 laps remaining, and as most other teams responded a bit later, Daniil rose to third place on the road before overtaking Lance Stroll for second.
Good calls throughout the race from both teams meant we had all four cars running in the top seven in the closing stages, but after the final Safety Car restart with five laps remaining, Alex and Pierre unfortunately collided when fighting for sixth, resulting in Pierre’s retirement.
The late restart also bunched up the field, allowing Sebastian Vettel the chance to pass Daniil for second, but the Russian held on to third place to give Toro Rosso their first podium since 2008, and register our first double podium since 1992.
Toyoharu Tanabe, Technical Director, Honda F1 Racing:
“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.”
Masamitsu Motohashi, Chief Honda Engineer, Scuderia Toro Rosso:
“To see Daniil on the podium was an incredible feeling coming after we have worked so hard with Toro Rosso for one and a half seasons. In recent races, we have struggled a bit and even today it was a difficult race for us. However, everything came together today. Last year our best result was a fourth place, even if we came close to getting good results in some other races too, which for one reason or another did not happen. Today, we feel we did the best we possibly could. This was an unforgettable race – the team, drivers and all Honda members working so well together. I would also like to thank our fans, especially those in Japan, who have never given up on us. Today’s result is for them also.”
Alexander Albon, Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda – 6th:
“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 tyres 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.”
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda – 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’s 11 years since Toro Rosso’s last podium with Sebastian 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! These kinds of races aren’t easy, it was a tough call to pit that lap earlier, but it’s a 50/50 call between the team and me, we win and lose together and today we won together.”
Pierre Gasly, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing – 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. In these conditions, it’s a gamble when to pit and when not to and sometimes you just need to get lucky but the pace was there so we will keep pushing and next week, we go again in Hungary. For the Team and Honda, it was great to get Max’s win today and bag another decent amount of points.”
Max Verstappen, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing – 1st:
“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 tyres started to struggle as the track dried. From there onwards we always made the right decisions. Even though the first slick tyre 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. Once you are ahead you can take a few less risks and everything feels a bit nicer. 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 giving me the right information and keeping an eye on all the other teams and sector times. 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. The orange fans were standing up, especially when I was in the lead which was also amazing to see. A big thank you to the whole Team and it has been a crazy but amazing Sunday.”