Formula One: Late ruling at German Grand Prix gifts ill Lewis Hamilton two precious championship points

Briton ill and wants total rest for next few days, gains from both Alfa drivers' penalties

HOCKENHEIM • Lewis Hamilton was cancelling all engagements and planning to fly home and rest late on Sunday night when he was handed a gift-wrapped ninth place and two precious points after a tumultuous German Grand Prix.

The 30-second penalties given to Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, more than five hours after the race for data irregularities in their cars' starting systems, cost them seventh and eighth places respectively.

They were relegated out of the top 10 as Mercedes' defending five-time champion rose from 11th to ninth and Williams' Robert Kubica was lifted to 10th.

The Alfa Romeo team said they would appeal against the stewards' decision, meaning that the final result will remain provisional pending the outcome of that action.

The late drama, which means Hamilton actually extended his lead in the driver's championship to 41 points ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas (184), came after many had left the circuit.

But it was an appropriate finale to an epic and chaotic race won with buccaneering style by Max Verstappen of Red Bull.

RARE OFF-DAY

I'm only human. It was a mistake and mistakes happen.

LEWIS HAMILTON, on his uninspiring performance in the wet on Sunday.

Hamilton, unwell and struggling with a sore throat, floundered, made two mistakes, survived a crash and pitted six times in a race of four safety car interventions.

"(I) never felt this sick and this has been the hardest race weekend of my life," the Briton said in a social media post after the race.

"I have cancelled everything I have for the next few days. So I'm going home. I will probably sleep the next few days and try and get over this bug."

He had already complained of a sore throat on Saturday, revealing after taking pole position that Mercedes had put French reserve Esteban Ocon on standby in case he felt too unwell to drive.

While he led the early stages of a mentally taxing rain-hit race, his afternoon unravelled with a smashed front wing, a penalty for a pit-lane offence and a wild spin.

He finished in 11th place, which stood as his worst finish since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, until the penalties for Alfa Romeo.

"Things are going to be thrown at you on days like this, but it felt like one domino after another, like snakes and ladders, and I kept hitting the snakes today," Hamilton said.

He added that he hoped to be back to as close to full fitness as possible for this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, the last race before the August break.

Hamilton, who has won seven of 11 races this season, has a diverse range of interests outside Formula One including music and fashion.

He has often been criticised for his globe-trotting lifestyle but has never allowed that to get in the way of his on-track performance.

Two titles and 11 wins shy of Michael Schumacher's record tallies, the Briton's error-riddled display on Sunday was uncharacteristic for a driver considered one of the sport's all-time greats.

"I'm only human," Hamilton insisted. "It was a mistake and mistakes happen."

His team boss Toto Wolff said it was only to be expected that Hamilton would not be on top of his game in the circumstances.

"Many of us wouldn't have considered being in a race car but he did," the Austrian said on Sunday.

"He did feel better today but you can't be physically in your best game when you've been ill for a few days."

Meanwhile, the German Grand Prix looks likely to drop off next year's Formula One calendar, despite having served up a thriller for the second straight year on Sunday.

The race, hosted by the Hockenheim circuit which had a deal to host it every alternate year, was already out of contract after last season's event.

A last-minute deal kept it on the 2019 calendar with Mercedes-Benz, parent company of the dominant Mercedes Formula One team, stepping in as title-sponsor but there has been no word on a fresh agreement.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2019, with the headline '2pts will perk up Lewis'. Print Edition | Subscribe