The increasingly intriguing battle for the 2018 Formula One championship continues at this weekend’s German Grand Prix (Race: Sunday, 9.10am ET).
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have shared the lead of the driver’s championship from the outset and now look the only truly viable winners of this year’s title. Their Ferrari and Mercedes teams are locked in a similar battle in the constructors’ standings.
It was Vettel and Ferrari who came out on top in Great Britain two weeks ago. Hamilton qualified on pole position but dropped to the back of the pack when the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen tagged him on the first lap. He came through strongly to finish second, ahead of Raikkonen, but was unable to challenge Vettel for the victory.
It was Vettel’s fourth win of the season and a result that saw him move eight points clear of Hamilton at the top of the drivers’ championship. As Silverstone was predicted to be a track at which Mercedes would be quicker than Ferrari, it was a key victory, and one that Ferrari will feel bodes well for the rest of the year given they were at least level on pace.
There are still plenty of Grand Prix to be run and there is still plenty of time for Mercedes to gain an upper hand in the development race, but at this stage in the season Ferrari look to have a car that more often than not has a marginal pace advantage over their competitor. It is certainly set to be the closest contest for both championships since the introduction of the new power unit regulations in 2014.
As the German Grand Prix has only been run twice since that point, and only five times at the Hockenheimring over the course of the last decade, it is difficult to get a clear picture of which teams and drivers are likely to be quick this weekend. However, given its characteristics, one would expect Ferrari and Mercedes to be pretty evenly matched.
The difference may come down to the drivers. Hamilton has won at the circuit twice before, while Vettel has never recorded a victory there. Indeed, he has been out-qualified by his teammate and finished no higher than fourth in each of his last two visits, after previously coming home fifth, third and eighth. With that in mind, Hamilton could have a slight edge.
Valtteri Bottas came home fourth for Mercedes at Silverstone, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault, the Force India of Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, the Haas of Kevin Magnussen and the second Force India of Sergio Perez.
It was a second consecutive double points finish for Force India, and the team and its drivers are confident of again securing a good haul of points this weekend as they continue to recover from their slow start to the season.
Force India scored just a single point over the first three races of the season, and while Perez then secured a podium finish in Azerbaijan, the following four Grand Prix only yielded a further 12 points. They were, though, strong in finishing sixth and seventh in Austria, and they followed that with the aforementioned seventh and 10th in Great Britain.
The team have achieved double points finishes in each of the last two German Grand Prix and can be fancied to again to do so on Sunday.
Brendon Hartley has endured a pretty rough season at Toro Rosso. His teammate Pierre Gasly has 18 points to his one, and Hartley has only finished ahead of him on one of the four occasions they have both been classified. Rumours abound over his future with the team.
Hartley was forced to retire on the opening lap in Great Britain two weeks ago in what was his third retirement in the last four races – two through mechanical issues and one due to a collision. Add to that the two times he has been classified despite not going the full race distance (one mechanical issue; one collision) and he has actually failed to make it to the end of half of the 10 races so far this year.
Honda have been given the go-ahead from Toro Rosso to trial new developments as and when they emerge during the remainder of the season in an attempt to improve performance before the Honda power units go into the back of the Red Bulls next year. That adds a further combustible element to a pairing of car and driver that has already proved unreliable. It would therefore be unsurprising if Hartley failed to finish on Sunday.
Our Preview’s F1 German Grand Prix Picks & Betting Predictions Verdict
- Back Lewis Hamilton to win the race @ best odds of +155 with 5Dimes.
- Bet on Force India to secure a double points finish (both drivers to finish in top 10) @ +350 with Bovada.
- Back Brendon Hartley not to finish the race. This is not an option we could find with any of the sportsbooks that accept USA residents, though some non-US facing bookies do offer this at around +150 odds.