Kvyat scores first podium for Toro Rosso since 2008
Verstappen earns second win of 2019, 7th of career
Albon finishes career-best sixth for Toro Rosso
Sunday’s Formula 1 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim had more plot twists than a Quentin Tarantino movie but in the end, Honda fashioned its best weekend in 27 years as Max Verstappen stormed to a win while Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat placed third to put two Hondas on the podium for the first time since the 1992 Portugal GP.
Pre-race rains ramped up the difficulty on the standing start, and the day became a high-speed chess match from there as teams and drivers dealt with conditions that fluctuated between wet and dry, often without warning. But weather was just the appetizer for a full-course meal that included four safety-car periods, two championship leaders crashing on their own and a 360-degree Danny Sullivan-esque spin by a race winner that made five pit stops!
Verstappen made the first of his stops after just two laps to change to the intermediate tires to accommodate a drying track, which lasted until he pitted on Lap 18 for medium slicks that he hoped would last the remainder of the race. The call was a tough one for the Dutchman, who spun on the harder compound before going back to the intermediate tires as the rains reappeared at the race’s halfway point.
Toro Rosso’s Alex Albon was running in the rain for the first time in his F1 career and the rookie was a strong fourth through the middle stages of the race. His teammate Kvyat benefitted from a gutsy pit call after Nico Hulkenberg brought out the third safety car with 24 laps to go, becoming one of the first runners to switch to slick tires to navigate a drying track. The Russian, who had just celebrated the birth of his first child not 24 hours earlier, used the slick Pirellis to march through the field, passing Lance Stroll to take the second spot.
At this point, all four of the Honda-powered entries were running in the top seven, including holding down the top-two positions. But as a final act, Valtteri Bottas brought out the safety car with a trip into the frontstretch fence, bunching the field for a sprint over the final five laps. The restart put Gasly within reach of Albon, leading to heartbreak for the Frenchman, who hit Albon while trying to pass him for sixth and had to retire with damage.
The restart also put Kvyat within range of Sebastien Vettel, who passed Stroll and Kvyat, demoting Kyvat to third – where he would earn Toro Rosso’s first podium finish since 2008. Albon continued after his contact and finished a career-best sixth.
The teams have just a day or two to celebrate as the series head to Hungary this weekend for the Hungarian Grand Prix.