Lewis Hamilton grabs his 90th Formula One win at chaotic Tuscan Grand Prix
This was Ferrari's 1,000th race in Formula One but the Mercedes driver came out on top and is now in touching distance of Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91 wins
If Monza was a surprise race for seasoned Formula One viewers, then the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix at the Mugello circuit turned out to be pure chaos—with two red flags, multiple interruptions and a 90th F1 win for Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. It was also a maiden podium finish for Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, who finished third behind Valtteri Bottas at P2.
A crazy start to the race saw Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, last weekend’s race winner at Monza, crash into the gravel traps, just four corners in, after tangling with Kimi Räikkönen's Alfa Romeo, leading to an early entry for the safety car.
That put Bottas ahead of Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc as the race restarted again. But as soon as the safety car exited into the pit lane, there was a huge crash involving McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, Kevin Magnussen of Haas, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Nicholas Latifi of Williams right on the start-finish straight. The race was red-flagged, just like in Monza, with a sea of debris left on the track. Two of last weekend’s three podium holders were out already. Renault’s Esteban Ocon also retired after irreparable damage to his rear brakes. This meant a second standing start with just 13 cars on the grid now.
Hamilton raced away from this restart, taking the lead from Bottas, and led all the way till the race was red-flagged a second time on lap 44-45 after Racing Point’s Lance Stroll crashed due to a puncture to his left rear tyre. A third standing start ensued, but Hamilton blasted his way to remain in the lead this time. Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo gained a place and put Bottas in third briefly, before losing a place again and staying behind the Finn. Albon, however, made the most of this third restart to overtake Ricciardo and held on to third. The 24-year-old had been under constant pressure after Gasly's impressive performances recently. Albon had replaced Gasly at Red Bull in 2019, but the Frenchman's win at Monza saw many speculate whether Red Bull might be looking at Gasly again. This podium finish could not have come at a better time for Albon.
Mugello was Ferrari’s 1,000th race in Formula One but they had to contend with an 8th place finish for Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel at P10, despite the new burgundy livery and racing overalls. The team must be relieved to at least get some points on board at their home circuit.
The 5.2 km-long circuit Mugello is incredibly fast, barely giving the drivers any chance to take their foot off the throttle and also putting them through some intense G-force. The 15 corners of this track—which hasn’t been altered at all since its construction in 1974—are tailor made for high-octane racing. As commentator Martin Brundle explained on the day of qualifying, it is the third-fastest track on this year’s calendar after Monza and Silverstone.
The 'Ferrari 1,000' was also special for another reason—a limited number of fans, around 3,000 of them, were permitted to watch the race from the stands for the first time in a season that has been affected heavily by the covid-19 pandemic. As Hamilton exited his car, holding the helmet that now carries a prominent Black Lives Matter sticker, he waved to the stands. The fans, who were mostly cheering for Ferrari, acknowledged his victory as he continued his charge towards a 7th World Championship title.
FIRST PUBLISHED14.09.2020 | 09:00 AM IST