Toto Wolff bemoans “Armageddon” weekend for Mercedes

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Team principal Toto Wolff compared Mercedes’ capitulation at their home German Grand Prix to Armageddon.

Lewis Hamilton crashed from the lead of the race while Valtteri Bottas’ afternoon ended in the wall following a late spin.

Mercedes, Formula One’s all-conquering team, have been celebrating their 200th race and 125 years of motorsport at Hockenheim this weekend, with team personnel dressing in retro clothing to honour the landmark events.

The German car manufacturer’s president Ola Kallenius was in attendance for the first time as boss, while Netflix has also been following Mercedes’ every move for the second series of Formula One’s fly-on-the-wall documentary, “Drive to Survive.” Mercedes controversially declined to take part in the first season.

“This shows that you shouldn’t fool around with stuff, and that you should concentrate on the job,” said Wolff, seemingly in reference to the team’s period costumes.

“We are not superstitious but we believe in karma. Maybe you get distracted, and maybe you do things differently to how you would normally do them.

“We were celebrating 125 years here, the board are here, and all the Netflix guys are here.

“It was a terrible day for us. With Valtteri crashing out, it ended in an Armageddon weekend for us.”

Hamilton pointed the finger of blame at Mercedes for wrongly switching him from wet tyres to slicks. He crashed on his first lap out of the pits.

With Hamilton way down the order, Bottas, whose future beyond this season is uncertain, should have salvaged second.

But the Finn hit the wall in the closing stages after losing control of his Mercedes at the opening bend.

The TV cameras cut to a furious Wolff who banged both fists on his desk.

Despite their failure to score any points, Hamilton and Mercedes remain in charge of both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship ahead of the final race before the summer break in Hungary next weekend.

“You never go home and say why didn’t we win, you say why did we lose,” added Wolff.

“This is certainly going to be the discussion that we will have tomorrow. We are united in the team.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Max Verstappen wins dramatic German GP as Sebastian Vettel finishes second from P20

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Max Verstappen won a frenetic rain-hit German Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton crashed while on course for victory.

Hamilton appeared set to claim his eighth win of a dominant season before drama struck on lap 29 of 64 in a race which featured four safety car periods.

The British star, who had just stopped for dry rubber, ran off the road at a final corner which had claimed Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc one lap earlier.

Hamilton had to stop for a new front wing and was stationary for more than 50 seconds as his Mercedes crew dashed around for spare parts.

He finished 11th, having also been hit with a five-second penalty for entering the pits on the wrong side of the bollard, and spun in the final stages too on a day to forget for the world champion.

Verstappen, who stopped five times in the most topsy-turvy of races, took the chequered flag to claim his second win of the campaign.

The Dutchman finished ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who fought back from last, and Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat. Racing Point’s Lance Stroll finished fourth.

On a miserable day for Mercedes at their home race, Valtteri Bottas crashed out at the first corner with eight laps remaining, while in the hunt for the podium.

Bottas’ spin brought a furious reaction from Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal banging both his fists on the table.

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Former champion Nico Rosberg believes Sebastian Vettel is not enjoying life at Ferrari

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Former world champion Nico Rosberg believes Sebastian Vettel is struggling to enjoy life at Ferrari.

The four-time world champion heads into his home race at Hockenheim on Sunday already a staggering 100 points adrift of Lewis Hamilton in the standings.

It is approaching a year since Vettel, 32, last celebrated a win. His number one status at Ferrari is being challenged by young Charles Leclerc in the sister car. A fortnight ago at Silverstone, Vettel finished 16th after he crashed into the back of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, the latest in a long line of mistakes.

Ferrari’s form in pre-season testing suggested Vettel would have the machinery to end the Italian team’s 12-year championship drought. But so concerning is the German’s form that there are question marks as to whether he will even see out his Scuderia contract which expires at the end of next season, jumping before he is pushed.

“Sebastian is having a rough season,” Rosberg told PA. “You start the year expecting to be the world champion and when things go wrong it is really tough.

“Being a Ferrari driver is the ultimate pressure. You have the whole of Italy on your back. It must be difficult to enjoy.

“F1 affects your mum, dad, and wife. That is why it is so intense. The suffering and the joy goes all the way to your home, and it never stops.

“Now, there is huge pressure from Leclerc, too, a young guy who is driving so well. Verstappen is in front of both Ferrari drivers in the championship. Can you believe that? S***.

“We know that Seb is one of the best out there if he drives the way he can. I hope he finds his way because that is what he needs right now.”

There is little evidence, however, to suggest Vettel is set to turn a corner.

It was here a year ago, where Vettel, on course to win his home race and extend his championship lead over Hamilton to 20 points, skidded off the track and into the gravel. Hamilton won the race to land a 17-point cushion over his rival. Vettel has not returned to the summit of the standings since.

Indeed, in the ensuing 12 months since his Hockenheim horror show, the German has scored an eye-watering 170 points fewer than Hamilton, 36 fewer than Valtteri Bottas and eight short of Max Verstappen’s tally – the Dutchman racing for the inferior Red Bull team.

His collision with Verstappen took his error count to seven in 21 appearances. Following his crash here, he spun in Monza, Japan and the US last year and in Bahrain at the start of this season, too. He then fell off the road while leading in Montreal.

Three of those errors came while in wheel-to-wheel combat with Hamilton. Has the British star, on course to beat his rival to a third successive title, got under Vettel’s skin?

“You need to be careful of trying to pinpoint it to one single factor,” said Hamilton’s team boss Toto Wolff.

“Undoubtedly, Lewis has a great ability and talent, but I know Sebastian, and his record speaks for him. He has won four championships and that doesn’t come from nowhere. I have no reason to believe that he will not recover.”

Vettel, whose father Norbert is supporting him this weekend, will take some comfort from being fastest in first practice. Leclerc led the way in the afternoon running with Hamilton third.

“I always put myself under pressure so I can’t be happy if things go wrong,” said Vettel.

“The pressure I put on myself is bigger than any external factors. It doesn’t feel like a burden driving for Ferrari. It is a privilege. My mission is to get back to winning ways.”

Hamilton, 39 points clear in the race for the championship, is bidding to eclipse Michael Schumacher by winning the German race for a record fifth time.

Copy provided by Press Association Sport

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