Lewis Hamilton won a hectic Tuscan Grand Prix on Sunday in Italy to clinch his 90th Formula One win and move one behind Michael Schumacher’s record.
The first F1 race on a Mugello track with super-fast corners usually used by MotoGP riders was incident-packed throughout. Two crashes on the first seven laps saw six drivers go out, and a red flag suspended the race for the first time after the second one.
A second red flag late following Canadian Lance Stroll’s heavy crash meant another grid restart — on Lap 46 of 59 — and gave Valtteri Bottas another chance to beat race leader Hamilton if he made a strong start from second.
Hamilton held firm and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo overtook Bottas, who passed him back to finish second but lose more ground to Hamilton in the title race.
Bottas pushed hard and got to within 1.1 seconds of Hamilton on the penultimate lap but the British driver clocked a fastest lap on the last one to take a bonus point.
🚩 RED FLAG 🚩<br><br>A puncture sends Lance Stroll off and into the wall at high speed, he’s out of the car and okay.<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/SkyF1?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#SkyF1</a> | <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/F1?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#F1</a> | <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TuscanGP?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TuscanGP</a> 🇮🇹 <a href=”https://t.co/uiqEYtKa4g”>pic.twitter.com/uiqEYtKa4g</a>
Red Bull driver Alexander Albon drove well to finish third and clinch a first career podium that will boost his chances of keeping his seat alongside team star Max Verstappen next year.
Hamilton can equal Schumacher’s record for wins at the Russian GP in two weeks and take a step closer to matching Schumacher’s record of seven world titles.
Safety car out on Lap 1
The race was far from easy for Hamilton, however, and he looked out of breath sitting in his car moments after crossing the line.
He had started from pole position for a record-extending 95th time but was overtaken by Bottas’ brilliant move off the line. But Bottas could not profit from it because of the imminent crashes.
Verstappen started third for Red Bull but he and Pierre Gasly crashed moments in, bringing the safety car out on Lap 1.
Verstappen got clipped by Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo after falling back. Carlos Sainz Jr. somehow avoided getting seriously hit when his McLaren span in the middle of the track and cars swerved around him.
After the safety car ended, a zig-zagging Bottas backed everyone up. Some of the cars tightly bunched at the back were early on the throttle after presuming the race was back on, accelerating into the middle of the pack.
Chaos ensued as Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo speared into Kevin Magnussen’s Haas and Toronto’s Nicholas Latifi’s Williams while Sainz Jr. then slammed into the back of Giovinazzi.
Not much you can do there. The constantiner effect is always pretty bad when you are mid pack. You can only react to the cars directly in front of you and it seemed like the pack went on two separate occasions. Glad everyone walked away from that one. 🙏🏻 <a href=”https://t.co/4nnEvzqbSP”>pic.twitter.com/4nnEvzqbSP</a>
“It’s really dangerous like that. Those at the front have to think of those behind,” Giovinazzi said. “We were flat out.”
‘The crash was really scary’
No drivers were hurt but several were angered by the tactics deployed at the front.
Sainz reported that he and the others were OK. “The crash was really scary,” he said.
“It felt like at the back of the grid where I was that everyone in front of me thought the race was going and we were all flat out until someone realized the race was not on,” added the Spaniard.
“It’s definitely not a nice feeling to do 280 kilometres per hour and suddenly find three cars in the middle of the straight.”
When the race re-started it was on the grid, meaning Bottas was on pole ahead of Hamilton.
But Hamilton got a tow on Bottas and passed him easily, and Bottas was nearly eight seconds behind Hamilton when he came in for new tires on Lap 32.
Then, Stroll’s Racing Point flew over the gravel and the car’s front smashed into the barriers. The red flag nullified Hamliton’s lead and gave Bottas another chance.
But he failed to take it.
WATCH | Lance Stroll finishes 3rd at Italian GP on Sept 6: