Lewis Hamilton has moved to within one race win of Michael Schumacher with a new record of consecutive finishes in a dramatic Tuscan Grand Prix. The six-times champion drove an excellent race despite two red flags and over a third of the drivers retired through incidents.
Hamilton kept his charm as the chaos unfolded, lost the first start allowing Valtteri Bottas to take the lead and then was able to hold on to second as Max Verstappen was slow off the line. Meanwhile, a collision in San Donato between three cars brought out the first safety car.
On the second restart the six-times champion took advantage and maintained his lead sailing off into the lead and that allowed him to build a fifty-five-point lead at the half way stage of the season. Red Bull’s Alex Albon was third.
It was clear in all three phases of the race that the six-times champion was quicker despite losing the second restart to Bottas. The Finn, however, was angry that Hamilton had copied his strategy midway through the race, but that wouldn’t matter.
Hamilton said, “It was all a bit of daze. It was like three races in one day. Just incredibly tough today. This track is phenomenal and the heat and keeping Valtteri behind was not easy. All those restarts total focus was needed. It was really, really hard. Valtteri appeared out of nowhere when I saw Danny was behind. I didn’t want him to have DRS. My heart is racing. It is crazy to be here and to have 90 Grands Prix wins.”
Bottas added “Disappointing. It was a dream start for me. The start was really good and I managed to hold my position at the safety car restart. It seemed like there was never an opportunity once I lost the position at the second start. That is how it goes. I will just keep pushing and keep trying to get better. It has to turn out well for me at some point.”
Albon’s teammate Max Verstappen was involved in an incident at the first start. The Dutchman was hit from behind by Kimi Raikkonen sending him into the gravel trap at Luco, Pierre Gasly was also involved in the incident which led to the first safety car. Romain Grosjean escaping without damage.
Verstappen, who would have likely been the biggest rival to Mercedes was out going into the back of Raikkonen and Gasly.
There was also contact between Carlos Sainz and Stroll, which Vettel ran into, although a first-lap Safety Car gave those drivers a chance to pit for repairs and new tyres.
The race resumed on lap six, however, immediately the safety car was re-deployed after a multi-car pile up on the pit straight. Antonio Giovinazzi ran into the back of Kevin Magnussen, collecting Carlos Sainz and Nicholas Latifi. All four cars retired and caused the first red flag. Esteban Ocon did not restart the race because of a brake issue.
Hamilton regained the lead as he had done at the first start, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had gained third in the opening phase however soon became a sitting duck. He was passed by serval cars in the second part of the race.
Leclerc losing places on consecutive laps to Daniel Ricciardo, Alexander Albon and Sergio Perez, dropping the Ferrari back to seventh before pitting for a set of hard tyres.
Ricciardo proved he had the pace throughout the race, pitting in the second stint of the race on lap twenty-seven for mediums, allowing him to stay ahead of Lance Stroll. Stroll’s race, however, didn’t last much longer, the Canadian crashing on lap 43 bringing out the red flag.
Bottas again struggled on the restart, allowing Hamilton to pull away and build an almost five second lead and take the win.
Bottas had wanted a safety car, but it had no effect. Stroll’s crash neutralised the race and created a thirteen lap sprint to the finish.
Ricciardo settling for fourth place at the end of the race and ten seconds off the pace. His best result since joining Renault by finishing fourth, falling just shy of his first podium since Monaco 2018 and winning a podium bet with team principal Cyril Abiteboul.
Sergio Perez won a race-long battle with McLaren’s Lando Norris by three seconds to take fifth. Norris couldn’t keep up with Perez during the final stint of the race and had to settle for sixth.
Daniil Kvyat had his best result of the season for Alpha Tauri, finishing seventh ahead of the two Ferrari’s. Kvyat, Perez, Raikkonen and Norris all scoring decent points for their teams.
Leclerc finishing the race eighth, after losing out given Ferrari’s struggles early on forcing him into an early stop. He inherited eighth from Kimi Raikkonen who received a five-second time penalty for crossing the white line at pit entry, dropping him to ninth.
In their 1,000th Grand Prix, Ferrari’s struggles this season were laid bare with Leclerc running as high as third before dropping back. Sebastian Vettel did however did manage to score his first points in a month after getting the jump on George Russell at the final restart.
Russell looked very competitive during the final stint, he was running tenth in a battle between the final three cars, Vettel and Raikkonen. The Englishman finished behind Vettel with Romain Grosjean the final finisher in twelfth.
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- TUSCAN GP – Valtteri Bottas fastest in first practice four-tenths ahead as Lewis Hamilton struggles slightly
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