Hamilton Wins Chaotic Tuscan Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton secures victory in a chaotic race at Mugello - read how it happened and discuss in the comments!
Following the incredible shock podium last week at Monza, there was a risk that the first ever Grand Prix at Mugello would fail to live up to the excitement of last week, but with 3 safety cars, 2 red flags and only 12 finishers, the Tuscan Grand Prix was another epic instalment in this intense Formula 1 season.
As usual, Mercedes dominated qualifying with Hamilton taking his 7th pole of the year ahead of Bottas, with Max Verstappen 3rd who would be pleased to see his Red Bull teammate Alex Albon lined up alongside him in 4th for the first time this season, giving them the best opportunity to take the fight to Mercedes. However, it would be just 2 corners before the safety car was deployed for the first time of the afternoon, with Verstappen punted into the gravel by the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen. After an excellent start saw Max leap alongside Hamilton who lost his lead at the lights, the Red Bull seemed to have a power issue and he was quickly swallowed up into the midfield pack. Last week’s race winner Pierre Gasly was squeezed into contact with Raikkonen who could do little to keep his Alfa Romeo from careering into the back of the Red Bull to give Verstappen his 2nd DNF in 2 races, with Pierre Gasly’s race also ending prematurely. There was more contact further ahead, the lightest of touches from Lance Stroll’s tyre was enough to send Carlos Sainz into a spin, with further bad luck to Sebastien Vettel as he was unable to manoeuvre his Ferrari around the stricken McLaren, damaging his front wing in the process.
6 laps later, and with the Safety Car barely into the pitlane, the red flag was waved following a huge collision at the race restart. With the kilometre long pit straight, Bottas was keen to delay the restart for as long as possible to avoid giving Hamilton the slipstream advantage – which as race leader is his prerogative to do so – however the cars in the midfield were not paying attention to the slow restart, and began racing before those in front of them had. Antonio Giovinazzi slammed into the back of the slow-moving Haas of Kevin Magnussen, with Carlos Sainz and Nicholas Latifi in the Williams accelerating into the carnage. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries but the incident resulted in a tirade of angry radio messages from Grosjean, who found himself driving through the cloud of debris, proclaiming that those in front were ‘trying to kill’ those behind.
50 minutes after the official start, and with just 3 corners taken at racing speed, the race was back under way with a standing start. Hamilton leapfrogged his teammate, and the Mercedes promptly drove away at the front of the pack as has so often been the case this year.
Charles Leclerc found himself in 3rd at the restart, however the lack of pace in the Ferrari saw him quickly fall back through the field, overtaken 4 times in 4 laps, before pitting and rejoining the race in last. The race was fairing little better for his teammate Vettel, who after finding himself at the back of the grid following his front wing change, was struggling to make progress past the Williams of George Russell in 10th.
Back at the front of the grid and knowing that the undercut would be strong, Bottas pitted from 2nd but found himself caught up in traffic on his outlap, the resulting delay pushing him even further behind Hamilton, who managed to build a 9 second lead following the pitstops. Daniel Ricciardo proved to be the big winner in the first round of pitstops, up to 3rd and on course for his first podium finish since joining Renault ahead of both Racing Points and the sole remaining Red Bull of Alex Albon. The race entered a period of cat and mouse, with few on track overtakes as we waited for the different tyre strategies to play out for the 13 runners left in the race. The race however found itself reset on lap 44, a puncture for Lance Stroll sent his Racing Point flying off at the Arrabiata corners and uncontrollably into the barriers at 170mph. The young Canadian was visibly shaken, and took his time to get out of the wreckage but was fortunately unhurt, as we saw the race red flagged for the second time after 1 lap behind the safety car.
The first 2 standing starts had given the advantage to the 2nd place car, both times able to take the lead into the first corner, so Bottas will have felt confident of regaining the lead at the 3rd and final restart, but he bogged down and rather the going on the offensive instead lost a position to Ricciardo and was under threat from Albon in 4th. It wasn’t long before Bottas moved back past Ricciardo, but by this point the damage had been done and there was to be no catching Lewis Hamilton as he took his 90th career win, with Alex Albon securing his first ever podium with a lap 51 move on Daniel Ricciardo. In doing so, Albon scored the first podium for Red Bull that was not Verstappen since Ricciardo in Monaco 2018. The result should prove to be a huge boost to the Thai driver whose position at Red Bull had been under the spotlight following an underwhelming season to date. Team Principle Christian Horner has always maintained that Red Bull remained committed to Albon, however there is no doubting that the podium will go a long way to ‘proving rather than believing’ that he is the right man for the seat.
Ferrari are the only ever-present team in F1, and their 1000th race resulted in a rare double points finish this season, however there will be no celebrations for the Scuderia who will not be pleased to see their cars coming home in 8th (Leclerc) and 10th (Vettel) after being gifted a spot thanks to a 5 second penalty to Raikkonen, and fighting with the Williams of George Russell on pure pace. Despite a joint career high finish of 11th, Russell will be disappointed not to secure his first F1 point in a fractured race that saw just 12 competitors reaching the finish line.
As this was the first race to be held in Mugello, there was no reference to how this race would play out, but it is safe to say that the chaotic event will live long in the memory and it would be a fantastic venue for Formula 1 to visit in the future. We now have a weekend break, before returning for round 10 at Sochi, Russia on Sunday 27th September, where Lewis Hamilton will be gunning to match Michael Schumacher’s All Time Win record of 91 victories!
Winner Lewis Hamilton
Fastest Lap Lewis Hamilton
Driver of the Day Daniel Ricciardo
Pos Driver Team Time Pts
1 L. Hamilton Mercedes 2:19:35.060 26
2 V. Bottas Mercedes +4.880s 18
3 A. Albon Red Bull +8.064s 15
4 D. Ricciardo Renault +10.417s 12
5 S. Pérez Racing Point +15.650s 10
6 L. Norris McLaren +18.883s 8
7 D. Kvyat AlphaTauri +21.756s 6
8 C. Leclerc Ferrari +28.345s 4
9 K. Räikkönen Alfa Romeo +29.770s 2
10 S. Vettel Ferrari +29.983s 1
11 G. Russell Williams +32.404s 0
12 R. Grosjean Haas +42.036s 0
13 L. Stroll Racing Point DNF 0
14 E. Ocon Renault DNF 0
15 N. Latifi Williams DNF 0
16 K. Magnussen Haas DNF 0
17 A. Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo DNF 0
18 C. Sainz Jr. McLaren DNF 0
19 M. Verstappen Red Bull DNF 0
20 P. Gasly AlphaTauri DNF 0