Lewis Hamilton has edged closer to Michael Schumacher’s records after winning a chaotic Tuscan GP, which included two red flags, two big multi-car crashes and incredible drama throughout as Formula 2020 served up another thriller at Mugello’s debut race.
A week on from an incident-packed and unpredictable afternoon at Monza, the second Italian race did not disappoint – but crucially this time Hamilton avoided the bedlam, and saw off Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
“That was definitely one of the craziest races I’ve had,” admitted Hamilton.
- Relive epic Tuscan GP, plus more reaction
Only 12 drivers finished and there were three race starts in all, with Max Verstappen and Italian GP winner Pierre Gasly crashing out on the first lap around the epic Mugello circuit, while a scary pile-up following the post-Safety Car restart led to four more retirements and the first red flag.
Lance Stroll’s high-speed shunt caused another unexpected mid-race stoppage, but Hamilton kept his nerve and now leads the championship by 55 points, while he is just one win short of Schumacher’s all-time record of 91.
Alex Albon claimed a popular first F1 podium for Red Bull in third, overtaking a frustrated Daniel Ricciardo late on.
“It was all a bit of a daze,” added an exhausted Hamilton, who was passed by Bottas on the first race start, but overtook and then hold off the Finn at the next two. “It was like three races in one day. It was incredibly tough.”
A downbeat Bottas stated: “It has to turn out well for me at some point.”
Sergio Perez, Lando Norris, Daniil Kvyat and Kimi Raikkonen made up for their respective team-mate’s exits with solid points, while Ferrari were the only team other than Mercedes to score a double points finish – minor solace for the under-performing team at their milestone 1000th race.
Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, who was caught up in the first-lap drama, were under pressure from a charging George Russell in the closing stages, but the Williams youngster has to wait for his first F1 points.
Tuscan GP result – top 10
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
3. Alex Albon, Red Bull
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
5. Sergio Perez, Racing Point
6. Lando Norris, McLaren
7. Daniil Kvyat, AlphaTauri
8. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
9. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
10. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
How two big crashes, and two red flags, shaped Mugello’s F1 debut
There hadn’t been a red flag in an F1 race for three years – but now the sport has had back-to-back Sundays with red flags… and Mugello had multiple.
The mayhem started on Lap One. Bottas, on form all weekend, comfortably surged ahead of pole-sitter Hamilton, while the championship leader was also under instant pressure from Verstappen. But Verstappen’s strong start turned into misery – with the Red Bull driver quickly dropping back thanks to an engine glitch which mechanics identified and were frantically working on pre-race.
Verstappen, who likely would have been a major rival to the Mercedes, dropping back into the midfield ultimately led to carnage. Raikkonen and Gasly made contact, which shoved the AlphaTauri off the track and the Alfa Romeo into the back of Verstappen, who joined Gasly in the trackside gravel.
“I would have retired anyway,” said Verstappen, while Gasly added: “Too many cars in one place.”
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.
That Safety Car stayed out for seven more laps, but moments after the race restart there was a huge start-finish line crash, which drivers thankfully walked away from unscathed, and a first red flag due to the mass of debris and heavily damaged cars.
Bottas, leading that train of the cars, was dictating the pace out in front – weaving on track before putting his foot down to restart the race – but his speed, or lack of, seemingly tricked some drivers behind, who were keen to get a good run on the start-finish straight, into thinking he was at full pace.
The stop-and-start manner of the restart saw Antonio Giovinazzi slam into the back of Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, while Sainz crashed into the Alfa. Part of that car appeared to, unbelievably, clip Sainz’s hand on the steering wheel.
“There were effectively two starts going on there and the second start met up with the first one before they accelerated,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle.
Drivers were split on who was to blame.
“That was f****** stupid from whoever was at the front,” said Romain Grosjean, who was just behind and somehow avoided the crash. “Do they want to kill us or what? This is the worst thing I’ve seen, ever.”
But Brundle said Bottas was entitled to set the pace, while Sky F1’s Paul Di Resta added: “It was generally [Esteban] Ocon, Kvyat and Russell who were all trying to get a run, trying to predict [when Bottas had gone].”
Sainz, who said he was unhurt despite holding his hand after getting out of his car, called the crash “scary” and said: “We were all flat out until someone realised the race wasn’t on.”
The red flag saw all drivers and cars return to the garages, while also – as we saw at Monza – allowing a free tyre choice. Bottas would have been happiest out in front, but lost out to Hamilton into Turn One, a move he ultimately never recovered from.
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