Lewis Hamilton wins crash-marred Tuscan Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton won a hectic Tuscan Grand Prix on Sunday 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. After the second crash, a red flag suspended the race for the first time.
A second red flag later on, following 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 is now 55 points behind 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 Bull driver Alexander Albon drove well to finish third and clinch a first career podium, which 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.
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 spun in the middle of the track and cars swerved around him.
After the safety car ended, a zigzagging 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 Nicholas Latifi’s Williams while Sainz Jr. then slammed into the back of Giovinazzi.
“It’s really dangerous like that. Those at the front have to think of those behind,” Giovinazzi said. “We were flat out.”
No drivers were hurt, but several were angered by the tactics deployed at the front.
“They want to kill us or what?” asked French driver Romain Grosjean, who narrowly avoided crashing. “This is the worst thing I have seen.”
Sainz Jr. called the incident “unacceptable.”
When the race restarted, 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.
If he was trying to undercut Hamilton by forcing him to come in one lap later, it backfired, and with 20 laps remaining Hamilton was still six seconds ahead.
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.
Ferrari reverted back to an age-old burgundy livery for its 1,000th F1 race, reflecting the color first used by the famed Italian manufacturer. But there was little to celebrate as Charles Leclerc finished eighth and Sebastian Vettel 10th.
Verstappen, meanwhile, was angry with his team after a second straight retirement following the Italian GP last weekend, where Gasly won his first F1 race.
“Similar issue to what I had in Monza. No power,” Verstappen said. “It’s the second time we lose points like that, it’s stupid.”
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