Ricciardo’s disaster in day of heartbreak
Mercedes had no reason to celebrate its 200th start as a works team as it suffered a catastrophic double blow at the German Grand Prix while Renault will be even more upset with how it fared.
Nico Hulkenberg was a broken man as his early exit confirmed a shocker of a day for the struggling French outfit. Daniel Ricciardo retired after 15 laps with an exhaust problem but Hulkenberg stayed out of trouble for the most part before disaster struck.
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At one stage Hulkenberg had climbed into second as he chased his first ever podium but like so many of his peers, slid into the barriers. In commentary for Sky Sports, former world champion Nico Rosberg described the setback as "heartbreaking" and cameras captured the despondent German sitting off the track with his head in his hands as he struggled to deal with the tragic end to his home Grand Prix.
"It's a tough one to take. I'm upset for myself, the team and for Renault because they deserved an excellent result today," Hulkenberg told the Renault website. "It's one of those days where you have to make it stick, and I'm just gutted with how it ended especially in front of the home crowd.
"We were doing a phenomenal job, strategy was very difficult so it hurts and it will hurt even more tomorrow."
Ricciardo was one of a few drivers who were brought undone by their own car rather than the treacherous conditions, saying: "We had an exhaust failure today, which caused the retirement. I could see a lot of smoke coming out from the back of the car and that was our day done. It's certainly a shame.
"I watched the rest of the race and it looked a lot of fun out there. I would have loved to have been racing as there were opportunities for big points. It's disappointing but we'll move on to next week. It's a tough overall result for the team, but hopefully Hungary will be better for us."
Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc blasted the "unacceptable" level of grip on the track after he slammed into the barriers to end any hopes he had of securing a fifth straight podium finish.
The Ferrari star lost control at Turn 15 and cost himself a chance to challenge Hamilton for the lead early in the Grand Prix. While he admitted he was at fault, Leclerc also said he wasn't helped by the conditions.
"It doesn't make anything better for my mistake but, first of all, I think the tarmac in the last two corners - it's just unacceptable we have that on a Formula 1 track when it's wet," Leclerc said.
"We can't have so much low grip. We've seen other drivers (go off), maybe I was the only one on slicks (tyres) but I was at 60kph and had absolutely no grip. There's something there.
"But overall that does not forgive my mistake. I'm completely at fault today and it's a huge shame. I'm very sorry for the fans and the team."
Leclerc was distraught after his race came to a dramatic end, and his devastation was evident over the team radio.
He swore loudly and screamed: "No! Oh no, come on Charles."
He said the track was "dangerous" and cut a depressed figure as he tried to explain what went wrong, but was lost for words.
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Lewis Hamilton had his worst race of the season, finishing 11th, and Valtteri Bottas crashed out as the Silver Arrows left the Hockenheimring in a sour mood.
The pair were one and two in the early stages of the race as they avoided the carnage being caused by the wet weather - but they couldn't stay out of trouble forever, although Hamilton was later bumped up to ninth after Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi were hit with 30-second penalties.
Hamilton skidded off the track and damaged his front wing, then copped a five-second penalty when he took an unacceptable route to the pits. Making matters worse, his team wasn't expecting him and he lost further time as the Mercedes staff rush to fix a new front wing onto his car.
Bottas was desperate for a podium but pushed too hard and smashed into the barriers at the first corner to bring the Safety Car out for the fourth and final time late in the race.
Former F1 star turned pundit Martin Brundle said on Sky Sports' coverage it was "extraordinary" and a "horror show" while his fellow commentators were thinking the same thing.
David Croft called the grim result "a nightmare of epic proportions" and Anthony Davidson said it was "so embarrassing for both drivers to make the same mistake". Paul di Resta said Mercedes had an "absolute shocker".
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff smashed his hand into the desk when Bottas bombed out and was furious after the race.
"It doesn't make it any easier when you have a day like this," Wolff told Sky. "We had a decent start to the race, with good pace but then obviously you add incidents, cars crashing out in tricky conditions, making the wrong calls, and this is where it can all start to go wrong."
On Hamilton losing his nose, Wolff added: "It was unfortunate because he crashed right at the entry of the box of the pit lane and you're not prepared and we made the wrong calls afterwards."
He was less forgiving of Bottas, but said: "Many others made the mistake, (Charles) Leclerc crashed, but overall for us it was a bad day for the drivers. Simply, it cannot have gone much worse."
Hamilton was equally as downbeat, saying: "It's been a bad day, a bad weekend. Probably the worst day in the office for a long time.
"I don't really know what happened today to be honest, but I'm glad that it's over."
With Sky Sports