Valtteri Bottas was able to eat into Lewis Hamilton’s lead when he won the Russian Grand Prix a couple of weeks ago, but can the Mercedes man gain more ground on the world championship leader when Formula 1 returns to Germany for the first ever Eifel Grand Prix?
Hamilton was left raging last time out as he was hit with two penalties in Russia and was forced to settle for third place, and the defending world champion did not hold back in assessing the situation, claiming he was hit with the punishments because F1 bosses want to “keep the racing exciting”, something that is difficult to do when one man is running away with it.
“They are changing rules, such as the engine [regulations],” he told reporters, “lots and lots of things to get in the way to keep the racing exciting, I assume. I don’t know if the rules, in terms of what happened [in Russia], was anything to do with it but naturally that’s how it feels. It feels like we’re fighting uphill, but it’s OK. It’s not like I haven’t faced adversity before. So we just keep our heads down and keep fighting and keep trying to do a better job and be cleaner and squeaky clean, as I said before.”
Conspiracy or no conspiracy, Hamilton is the number one driver in the sport and he will have an opportunity to bounce back from his Russia disappointment when F1 visits Germany for the latest leg of the calendar.
The good news for the six-time world champion is that the Nurburgring plays to the talents of the driver, so even though he has a mechanical advantage Hamilton is a master driver who can shine on the circuit like this. He is also one of the few active drivers with F1 experience of this track because it has not appeared on the calendar since hosting the German Grand Prix back in 2013. On that occasion he had to settle for fifth place despite starting pole position, but in his visit prior to that, back in 2011, Hamilton won the race after starting second from the grid.
So unless Hamilton is hit by some sort of penalty here you have to fancy his chances of registering his seventh win of the 2020 season, and you also have to like the chances of him starting Sunday’s race from pole position. Not only has the British ace dominated the sport in recent years by racking up the world titles, he has also been a dominant force on Saturday’s to become almost a master of qualifying. Out of the 10 races so far this season, Hamilton has started from the very front of the grid on eight occasions. That could become 9 in 11 here before he goes on to win Sunday’s race.
That is not my only recommendation for Sunday though, I also suggest backing Hamilton, Bottas and Max Verstappen to fill the podium spots at the end of the race. Verstappen was able to bounce back from a couple of retirements with a second-place finish in Russia last time out and he will have his sights set on challenging the Mercedes drivers this time around. I am not convinced that he will beat either of them, but he is great value for a podium finish at worst. In the seven races that Verstappen has completed this season he has finished in the top three, and the trio of Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen have filled the podium spots on six occasions. We can expect more of the same here.