How will Lewis Hamilton react and other talking points ahead of German Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton heads to Hockenheim for this week’s German Grand Prix eight points adrift of title rival Sebastian Vettel.

Ferrari driver Vettel won last time out at Silverstone, while Hamilton recovered from last to finish second at his home race.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the key talking points ahead of the 11th round of the Formula One World Championship.

How will Hamilton react in Germany?

Hamilton turned in a remarkable fightback from last to second at the British Grand Prix, but his comeback display was tainted by accusations of Ferrari cheating. Kimi Raikkonen bumped Hamilton off on the opening lap, and the Brit was left seething.

“Interesting tactics from their (Ferrari) side”, Hamilton mused as he appeared to point at foul play by Ferrari. Raikkonen’s wife Minttu then got involved, suggesting Hamilton was “crying like a girl”, and urged him to take up ballet.

Hamilton, concerned that he was coming across as a sore loser, apologised for his remarks, and said sorry to Raikkonen, too, in a series of emotional Instagram messages on the Monday following his home race.

Since then, Hamilton has been in Iceland, Holland and in London, too, but this week will head to Mercedes’ home race in Germany hoping to wipe the slate clean after two disappointing races, and get his championship bid back on track.

Hamilton of Great Britain 1

Mercedes making too many mistakes

Hamilton won the French Grand Prix to move 14 points clear of Vettel, but a Mercedes strategy error then cost him the lead at the following round in Austria before a mechanical retirement ensured he scored zero points. Hamilton’s poor start at Silverstone also left him exposed to Raikkonen, and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that his team are making too many errors.

“We didn’t score as many points in the triple-header as we had hoped for,” Wolff said. “A lot of that was down to our own mistakes. We’ve had a decent first half of the season but on the one hand, we’ve left points on the table and had to do damage limitation more often than we would have wanted.”

Ferrari took 98 points from F1’s triple-header, compared to Mercedes’ haul of 61. Mercedes now trail Ferrari by 20 points in the constructors’ championship, too. Make no mistake, the pressure is on the sport’s once dominant team.

mercedes

Alonso makes his point

F1’s American owners Liberty Media have floated the idea of awarding points from first place to last rather than only for the top 10 finishers. The idea is to encourage competition up and down the field, and to make every position count.

For decades, points were awarded to the top six, which then became the top eight in 2002. From 2010, the top 10 have been rewarded. But double world champion Alonso fears finishing in the points will be diminished under the proposed change.

“If everyone is scoring points, then maybe we lose that unique thing in F1 that other categories do not have,” he said. “I remember when Jules (Bianchi) scored the ninth position in Monaco, it was some kind of miracle and a big moment for the sport.”

alonso

Doubts over future of the German GP

The German Grand Prix has been held on alternative seasons since 2014 – it will not be on the calendar next year – and the contract expires after Sunday’s race.

Mercedes may have been the dominant force in recent years, while Vettel is bidding for a fifth title, but both have failed to capture the imagination of the German public in the same vein that Michael Schumacher managed to.

Max Verstappen’s army of Dutch fans will descend on Hockenheim to ensure the grand prix could be a sell-out on Sunday. But it appears a real possibility that the German race is not part of Liberty’s long-term vision, and could be dropped permanently to make room for fresh locations.

german gp

Giovinazzi lands practice drive

Ferrari junior driver Antonio Giovinazzi will take to the Sauber cockpit for opening practice on Friday.

Giovinazzi, 24, will replace regular driver Marcus Ericsson.

With Charles Leclerc mooted for a promotion to Ferrari next year, this could be the first of a series of chances for Giovinazzi to prove he can make the step up to a full-time seat in 2019.

Antonio Giovinazzi

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Mercedes revamp their Formula One technical team for 2019

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Aldo Costa joined Mercedes in 2011.

Lewis Hamilton‘s Mercedes are braced for a significant shake-up of their technical team after it was announced that two key figures are leaving.

Engineering director Aldo Costa, who has been integral in the design of Hamilton’s dominant Mercedes car in recent years, and performance director Mark Ellis, are set to call time on their roles at the end of the year.

Costa, 57, who joined Mercedes from Ferrari in 2011, will become a technical adviser to spend more time with his family in Italy.

Ellis, 54, formerly of Red Bull when they won four consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ championship, has retired from his post ahead of a sabbatical in 2019.

Chief designer John Owen becomes the senior member of the group and will report to technical director James Allison. Loic Serra will be promoted to performance director next year.

“This is a significant moment for our team and a great opportunity,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said.

“We have said many times that you cannot freeze a successful organisation; it is a dynamic structure and I am proud that we are able to hand the baton smoothly to the next generation of leaders inside the team.

“We have been in discussion for many months with both Mark and Aldo about how best to implement this transition and to empower their successors.

“Mark and Aldo have both helped to shape the timing and manner of these changes, and the team’s future is very bright with John, Loic and our entire technical leadership working under James’ direction.”

Mercedes have won the past four drivers’ and team titles, but are behind in both championships this year.

Hamilton will head to Mercedes’ home race in Germany a week on Sunday eight points adrift of Sebastian Vettel, while Mercedes are 20 points behind Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.

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Lewis Hamilton accused of 'crying like a girl' and urged to take up ballet by Kimi Raikkonen's wife

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Lewis Hamilton on the podium with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

Lewis Hamilton has been accused of “crying like a girl” and urged to take up ballet by Kimi Raikkonen‘s wife following his collision with the Ferrari driver at the British Grand Prix.

A furious Hamilton and his Mercedes team believed Raikkonen may have crashed into him on purpose to afford Sebastian Vettel free reign at the front of the field.

Vettel won on Hamilton’s home turf to move eight points clear of the Briton, who recovered from last to finish second.

Hamilton was visibly angry with Raikkonen after the race and refused to dismiss the suggestion that his actions could have been deliberate.

But in a post to Instagram, Minttu Raikkonen, who has been married to the Finnish driver since 2016, wrote: “If you cry like a girl when you lose, do ballet.”

Later, after removing the post, and when addressing a fan who defended Hamilton, she added: “Just to be clear, I was not talking about the driver but the team who was crying afterwards that someone did something on purpose. No he didn’t. It’s called racing.”

Hamilton’s accusations of foul play against Ferrari overshadowed his remarkable comeback drive in front of a record crowd at Silverstone.

The British driver left the Northamptonshire circuit for London in a helicopter on Sunday night before attempting to diffuse his robust remarks.

“Thank you for loving me for being with all my flaws,” the 33-year-old wrote on Instagram. “I know I’m not perfect.

“Accepting who you are and loving yourself are so important. Go be great today and be you and give zero f**** to what anybody thinks.

“Kimi said sorry and I accept it and we move on. It was a racing incident and nothing more. Sometimes we say dumb s*** and learn from it.”

Ferrari have clearly been riled by Mercedes’ accusations of underhand tactics, with team boss Maurizio Arrivabene also taking aim at their former employee James Allison.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: “To put it in James Allison’s words, this is either deliberate or incompetence.” Englishman Allison, Mercedes’ technical chief, left Ferrari in 2016 before joining the Silver Arrows.

“He (Allison) should be ashamed of himself because he worked for many years at Maranello,” Arrivabene said. “He took quite a bit of money from Maranello as well. You have to be elegant and know how to lose.”

Arrivabene, who was speaking to Italian TV, added: “We are here in England. Sometimes they want to teach us how to be gentlemen. He should really start first. This is a lesson for us to stay classy. A thing that they (Mercedes) haven’t done.”

Hamilton and Mercedes will renew their rivalry with Ferrari at Vettel’s home race in Germany a week on Sunday.

“We have got to keep pushing,” Hamilton said. “Ferrari have got a little bit fortunate in the last couple of races so I hope that we get a few more positive races.

“It has been such an emotional roller-coaster ride this season. It is so close, which I love, but the goal is to be ahead by the end.

“We have two factories at Brackley and Brixworth (in Northamptonshire), so I have an army and Ferrari have an army. It is Italy versus England.

“We have got another 11 races to go and it already feels like the longest season of my life, but this race encourages me that I still have the fight in my heart.”

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