Lewis Hamilton stayed one step ahead of the mayhem and moved another step closer to Formula 1 history with his win in the F1 Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello, Italy, on Sunday.
Hamilton won two out of three standing restarts in the race, including the final one with just 13 laps remaining, and went one to record his 90th career Formula 1 victory. He’s now just one win shy of Michael Schumacher’s all-time series record.
This was the first time Formula 1 has had three standing starts in a single race since the F1 Belgian Grand Prix in 1990. Just 12 cars were running at race’s end.
“All those restarts, it was really, really hard,” Hamilton said. “My heart is definitely racing.”
Before his latest stop at the victory podium, however, Hamilton had to survive a third standing restart with 13 laps remaining in the 59-lap race. Hamilton had no trouble on this one, leading Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas into Turn 1 and motoring to the win.
Bottas passed Ricciardo one lap after the final restart and finished second, 4.8 seconds back. Alex Albon passed Ricciardo on Lap 50 and went on to complete the podium in third, 8.0 seconds behind Hamilton. The podium was Albon’s first and it came in his 30th career start.
“Obviously, it was disappointing because it was like a dream start of the race for me,” Bottas said. “The start was really good and I was able to hold my position at the (first) safety car restart. It seemed like there were no opportunities any more once I lost the position on the second start.”
Not every restart went as smoothly for Hamilton as the final one.
Hamilton, the pole sitter, lost his lead to Bottas on the first turn of the opening lap of the race. He got the lead back on the first standing restart six laps into the 59-lap race following the first of two red-flag periods.
Hamilton then won the drag race to the first turn on the final standing restart with 13 laps remaining.
There was plenty of mayhem on the first lap. A power unit issue on the Red Bull of Max Verstappen had him going backwards through into the first two two turns until before he got hit from behind by Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo. The contact sent Verstappen into the gravel and ultimately out of the race.
AlfaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, last week’s winner, also got collected in the early mishap and ended up into the gravel and out of the race.
It was Verstappen’s second DNF in succession after an engine issue knocked him out early a week ago in the F1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The crash also effectively ended Verstappen’s hopes of a championship run this season. He left Mugello 80 points back of Hamilton. Bottas is second, 55 points behind his teammate.
“Probably the same problem as Monza I guess, because it felt a bit similar,” Verstappen said. “I had a good launch. I went around Lewis and then it didn’t accelerate, so I lost a lot of speed. That’s what happens when you get in a situation like that. I would have probably retired anyway.”
Then, thing got really crazy. At the rolling safety car restart on the sixth lap, a massive crash at the back of the pack collected the cars of Carlos Sainz, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi. That crash brought out the first red flag.
“The crash was pretty scary,” Sainz said. “We were doing 290 (kph). The cars in front of me were racing. Suddenly, we weren’t racing any more and we started braking again. I saw everything. It was just too late and it was a big crash.
“It felt like the back of the grid where I was, it felt like everyone in front of me felt that the race was going and we were all flat out. And then someone realized the race was not on. It’s something that we need to look at.”
Esteban Ocon came out for the formation lap following the red flag, but he came back into the pits for an early retirement due to brake failure, leaving just 13 cars on track.
Lance Stroll made it eight retirements on the day after crashing on Lap 43. That crash, caused by a tire issue, damaged a tire barrier and brought out the second red flag of the race.
For Hamilton, the race marked his 222nd career race in the points. That breaks the record he previously shared with Schumacher. It was a record 42nd consecutive race in the points for Hamilton.
F1 Tuscan Grand Prix Results
at Mugello, Italy
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