Hamilton achieves record-breaking achievement with 92 race victories

Hamilton-Portuguese-GP-2020-winner

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his 92nd Formula 1 victory, becoming the most successful driver in the history of the sport.

As light rain fell on the first lap, Hamilton slipped off the track and fell behind his teammate Valtteri Bottas, but was able to recover to take his eighth win of 2020 and with it the outright record for Formula wins on 92, with Max Verstappen completing the Portuguese Grand Prix podium after clashing with Sergio Perez on the dramatic opening lap.

At the start, Hamilton held the lead off the line as Bottas made a slow getaway from the right-hand side of the grid, away from the racing line, which meant he dropped behind Verstappen into Turn 1.

But the Red Bull ran slightly wide on the exit, which allowed Bottas to move to the inside and pushed his way back into second at the tight, right-hand Turn 3.

Verstappen had to run so wide on the exit he lost momentum and Perez came alongside, with the pair making contact through the kink of Turn 4, which spun the Racing Point around and down to last – in a clash that the race stewards decided not worthy of investigation.

A few metres up ahead, Hamilton locked up into Turn 5 and slide wide, which allowed Bottas to nip by into the lead as they ran back up the hill into the second sector, where both Mercedes, struggling to fire up the temperature in their medium tyres as spots of rain began to fall, were passed by Carlos Sainz.

The McLaren driver had shot off the grid from seventh on the grid, using the grip advantage from his soft tyres and capitalising on the Verstappen/Perez collision before surging into the lead, with his teammate Lando Norris following him up the order from eighth to run fourth at the end of lap one.

Sainz’s lead was one-second at the end of lap one of 66 and he continued to pull away from the Mercedes drivers, bit-by-bit, over the next three laps.

But by lap five the Mercedes drivers had got their tyres up to temperature and back to quickly haul him back in, with Bottas sweeping back into the lead at the start of lap six around the outside line into T1.

Hamilton came by at the same place at the start of the next lap, with Sainz by this stage struggling for grip on his softs.

Verstappen had recovered from his first lap dramas to pass Norris and then follow the Mercedes cars back by Sainz by the start of lap eight, having set an early fastest lap as he began his fightback.

But by this stage Verstappen, also on the softs, was 4.4 seconds off the lead and he was not able to show better pace, quickly falling further way.

Bottas appeared to be able to hold Hamilton at bay, with the world champion complaining about the feeling of his left-front medium, the tyre under most pressure around Portimao, as they lapped clear of the rest in the low one minute, 22 seconds and medium-to-high one minute, 21 seconds.

But a series of fastest laps from Hamilton between lap 15 and 17 got him close to his teammate, and two laps later he was all over his title rival’s W11, getting back into the lead with a DRS run at the start of lap 20.

Bottas stole to the inside, running close to the pitwall, but it did not disrupt Hamilton’s run and he easily took first as he swept in Turn 1.

Hamilton rapidly pulled away from Bottas, getting his lead up to three seconds by the start of lap 23, with Verstappen nowhere near a position to threaten the Mercedes supremacy.

Verstappen then pitted to take the medium tyres, dropping back to sixth as he switched to the harder rubber, having had Charles Leclerc start to close in on his third position for he pitted.

Throughout the middle third of the race, Hamilton was able to lap consistently in the one minute, 20 seconds, with Bottas not able to get into that bracket until lap 34 – by which time Hamilton was eight seconds clear – with the Finn also reporting a dash warning to cool his car.

Mercedes had instructed Hamilton to stretch his opening stint on the mediums, which he did up to lap 40 with his lead was approaching 10 seconds, when he came into take hard tyres – despite insisting his existing tyres could go further.

Hamilton was told he had “cleared the field” and he duly pitted, retaking first when Bottas came in a lap later – with the second Mercedes also being given hards despite Bottas considering taking softs to run an alternative strategy to his teammate.

At the pit exit, which feeds directly into the high-speed Turn 1, Bottas had to slow to allow the fast-approaching Kimi Raikkonen and George Russell, which cost him time and he lost further ground coming out of the Turn 5 hairpin as he appeared to struggle for grip and tyre temperature.

Bottas’s issues meant Hamilton’s lead rose immediately to over 11 seconds, and a series of rapid times in the low one minute, 20 seconds took the world champion’s advantage towards 15 seconds.

He continued to pull away, with Bottas finally able to match Hamilton has they swapped what were then fastest laps of the race.

But Hamilton was then able to extended his gap further, despite reporting feeling some cramp in his right calf during the late stages, taking the fastest lap in the one minute, 18 seconds towards the end, as he surged clear to win by 25.5 seconds.

Verstappen briefly looked under threat from Leclerc when Ferrari stopped on lap 35, but the Monegasque driver could not compete on his hard tyres and a nine second gap between the pair became 30.8 seconds at the flag.

Pierre Gasly, who had been able to keep his softs alive early as the McLarens faded from their high opening positions, took fourth – triumphing in a firm fight with the recovering Perez in the final laps.

Perez had completed a long second stint on the mediums after stopping at the end of the first lap following his clash with Verstappen, but the red-walled softs he took for a third stint to the flag gave up and he was passed by the AlphaTauri when the leaders were on lap 64, a lap after Perez had defended late to the inside of Turn 1 in a move that is under investigation by the stewards.

Sainz was able to demote Perez to seventh a lap after Gasly had swept by in fifth around the outside of Turn 1, with the Renault pair Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo taking eighth and ninth.

Ocon had run until lap 53 on his starting mediums, with Ricciardo fighting Gasly in the middle phase of the race before dropping back and ending behind his teammate when he finally stopped.

Sebastian Vettel rose from P15 on the grid to take the final point in tenth.

Norris came home P13, having fallen down the order in a clash with Stroll, when the Racing Point driver had tried a wild move on the far outside into Turn 1 in the early stages.

The pair collided as Stroll turned in on the McLaren, for which he was given a five-second penalty for causing the collision, later getting the same time penalty for repeated track limits before he retired late-on due to damage he had picked up in the crash and subsequent high-speed spin.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in setting a new record in the sport with wins. He has a comfortable lead in the drivers’ championship and title number seven is within sights after achieving the most victories in Formula 1.

Mercedes-Portuguese-GP-2020-winner

Portuguese Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29:56.828
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 25.592
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 34.508
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:05.312
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1 lap
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1 lap
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1 lap
8 Esteban Ocon Renault 1 lap
9 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1 lap
10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1 lap
11 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
12 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1 lap
13 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1 lap
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1 lap
17 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1 lap
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 2 laps
19 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 2 laps
– Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes DNF

Hamilton takes pole from Portuguese Grand Prix pace setter Bottas

Hamilton-qualifying-Portugal-2020

Lewis Hamilton achieved his 97th pole position in Formula 1, edging out his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas – who set the pace in every session leading up to the top ten shootout. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen tried his best and will start P3.

After a 30-minute delay to fix a drain cover, the teams were unleashed for the first-ever contemporary Formula 1 qualifying at the Algarve International Circuit.

In the top ten shootout, Bottas set the bar at one minute, 16.986 seconds, 0.047 seconds quicker than Hamilton. For the second runs, Mercedes switched to the medium tyres, with Hamilton taking provisional pole with one minute, 16.934 seconds, to pip Bottas by a tiny margin of 0.052 seconds.

Bottas struck back with a lap of one minute, 16.754 seconds, only for Hamilton to respond with one minute, 16.652 seconds on his second flying lap (Bottas only did a single run) that sealed pole position.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start third, having briefly split the Mercedes, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Sergio Perez qualified fifth for Racing Point, ahead of Alex Albon’s Red Bull. The McLarens of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris were next up, ahead of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri followed by Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo who didn’t run after his Q2 off.

In Q2, Bottas was fastest on the medium tyres with one minute, 16.466 seconds, 0.358 seconds faster than Hamilton on similar compound. Verstappen was 0.572 seconds off in third, complaining of “no grip” despite using the softs, while Ricciardo escaped a spin at Turn 11 on his last lap to just make Q3.

Knocked out at this point were Renault’s Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll in the Racing Point, Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri, an impressive George Russell for Williams and a less impressive Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari, whose gamble to make Q3 on mediums, like teammate Leclerc, failed by a long way.

In Q1, Hamilton set the fastest time at one minute, 16.828 seconds, 0.051 seconds quicker than Verstappen, with Bottas a tenth off the pace.

Falling at the first hurdle were the Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, the soon-to-be-dumped Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, and Nicholas Latifi in the Williams.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with the pole position. That’s his 97th in Formula 1. Incredible qualifying performance from the six-time world champion. Feel sorry for Valtteri Bottas, who set the pace in every session leading up to Q3, but when it matter, his Mercedes teammate found that extra edge to go on top.

Portuguese Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:16.652
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:16.754
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:16.904
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:17.090
5 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:17.223
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:17.437
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:17.520
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:17.525
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.803
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault –
11 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:17.614
12 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:17.626
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.728
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:17.788
15 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.919
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:18.201
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:18.323
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:18.364
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:18.508
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:18.777

Hamilton equals Schumacher’s race victories at the Nürburgring

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton has equalled the great Michael Schumacher with the all-time Formula 1 win record by taking victory in the Eifel Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen, while Valtteri Bottas retired with a mechanical issue.

Daniel Ricciardo completed the podium for Renault ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez after a late safety car spoiled what looked like being a close run battle between the pair over the final laps.

At the start, Hamilton made the better getaway and pulled alongside his teammate approaching the first corner.

The Black Arrows both went deep into the right-hander, going wide into the runoff on the exit as Bottas hung on around the outside, which gave him the inside line into the Turn 2 left and he was able to muscle back into the lead.

Bottas shot clear of Hamilton around the rest of the opening tour, making sure he was immediately out of DRS range, extending his lead gradually over the next few laps.

But Bottas’s lead never exceeded two seconds as he, Hamilton and Verstappen quickly moved clear of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, which was holding up Ricciardo and Alex Albon in the other Red Bull.

The three leaders were the only drivers able to lap in the one minute, 32 seconds during the early laps on the softs, with Leclerc nearly 20 seconds off the lead by the time Ricciardo passed him around the outside of Turn 2 on lap nine of 60.

By this stage Hamilton had begun to erode Bottas’s advantage, and just after the Briton had gained 0.3 seconds on lap 12, the leader locked up heavily at the start of the next tour and went deep at Turn 1.

Hamilton immediately stole to the outside of Turn 1 and took first place, with Verstappen quickly over the rear of Bottas, who pitted at the end of lap 13 to replace his ruined softs with mediums.

This proved to be even more costly for Bottas a few laps later, when the virtual safety car was called as George Russell pulled off to retire his damaged car, sustained when Kimi Raikkonen tipped to Williams onto its left-hand wheels when he lost the rear of his Alfa Romeo following Sebastian Vettel closely in Turn 1, on the run to the hairpin.

The VSC meant Hamilton, who had pulled further clear of Verstappen with a strong of rapid laps in the one minute, 31 seconds after taking the lead, and Verstappen were able to pit and gain significantly compared to Bottas.

Things then got worse for Bottas when he dropped behind Lando Norris and Sergio Perez, who were yet to stop having been running behind Ricciardo before the Renault driver pitted under the virtual safety car, reporting a loss of power.

The issue got worse over the next lap despite Mercedes issuing a string of reset instructions and he was forced come in at the end of lap and retire with a suspected MGU-H problem.

Verstappen had gained two seconds over Hamilton as Red Bull gained with a faster pitstop, and he briefly got under two seconds behind the Mercedes as they both lapped in the early 1m30s, but the world champion was quickly able to re-establish a clear lead.

As Hamilton gradually extended his advantage over the middle phase of the race, taking it over ten seconds for the first time at the end of lap 42, the attention turned to the fight for third.

Ricciardo’s pit stop under the virtual safety car meant he would have to go long to the finish on a one-stopper, with his rival for the final rostrum spot becoming Perez when Norris became hobbled with a power problem that McLaren seemingly could not rectify with a stream of settings change instructions.

Perez, who ran long in the first stint to lap 30 on his softs, then caught Leclerc, who had pitted after being passed by Ricciardo early-on, and it was the Perez’s turn to lose time behind the Ferrari.

When he did get into the chicane on lap 35 he was 17.5 seconds behind the Renault, and quickly set about eating into its advantage.

Perez closed four seconds over the next five laps, but the race was then interrupted again approaching the race’s final quarter when Norris pulled off the track at Turn 6, with his right-rear bodywork smoking, and the safety car was called out.

Mercedes, Red Bull and Renault pulled the top three in as soon as they could, with Racing Point initially leaving Perez out on his mediums before he too came in and switched to the softs, which the leaders had also taken.

The safety car stayed out until lap 50, with Hamilton and Verstappen complaining about its speed as they fought to keep heat in their tyres on another cold day in the Eifel mountains.

When it did come in, Hamilton had dropped Verstappen at the final chicane, with the Dutchman actually attacked by Ricciardo into Turn 1, which he was able to rebuff.

The two leaders alone were able to shoot into the one minute, 28 seconds – with Hamilton setting a strong of fastest laps to again build up his lead – as Ricciardo, after briefly coming under pressure from Perez following his failed look to take second, gradually eased clear of Perez.

The top positions therefore remained stable over the final few laps as Hamilton ran clear to take his record-equalling victory by 4.4 seconds, as Verstappen set the fastest lap on the final tour.

Ricciardo came home to take his first podium since winning the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix with a 1.4 seconds advantage over Perez.

Carlos Sainz finished fifth for McLaren ahead of Pierre Gasly, who passed Leclerc after the safety car as the Ferrari driver had run behind the top five due to not stopping during the final race suspension.

Nico Hulkenberg rose from last to finish eighth in place of the unwell Lance Stroll – his cause aided by the safety car, which also helped Romain Grosjean take his first points of 2020 as he finished ninth on a one-stopper, holding off Antonio Giovinazzi, who had stopped just before the safety car.

Sebastian Vettel 11th after spinning while trying to pass Giovinazzi in the early stages, and then having a clash with Kevin Magnussen in the final laps (with the Haas driver finishing P13 behind Raikkonen, who was given a ten seconds penalty for causing the Russell crash, but nevertheless claimed the record for most Formula 1 starts from Rubens Barrichello by taking the start).

Albon and Esteban Ocon were the other non-finishers as they stopped with suspected power unit and hydraulics problems respectively in the pits, with the Red Bull driver having picked up a five-second penalty for taking Daniil Kvyat’s front wing off as he swept across going into the final corner during the early running.

Kvyat finished P15 behind Nicholas Latifi.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in scoring the most wins in the sport and equalling Michael Schumacher’s achievement with 91 race victories. As for Daniel Ricciardo, well deserved to score a podium for Renault. It’s been a while since the honey badger finished in the top 3. While super sub Nico Hulkenberg did a solid job to finish in the points for Racing Point.

Eifel Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:35:49.641
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 4.470
3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 14.613
4 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 16.070
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 21.905
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 22.766
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 30.814
8 Nico Hulkenberg Racing Point-Mercedes 32.596
9 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 39.081
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 40.035
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 40.810
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 41.476
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 49.585
14 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 54.449
15 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 55.588
– Lando Norris McLaren-Renault DNF
– Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda DNF
– Esteban Ocon Renault DNF
– Valtteri Bottas Mercedes DNF
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF

Bottas takes pole position at the Nürburgring

Valtteri Bottas scored his third pole position of the season at the Nürburgring, beating his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton while Nico Hulkenberg qualified last.

Mercedes maintained its perfect record in qualifying so far in 2020, but faced strong competition from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who had topped Q1 and was just adrift of Hamilton at the head of the times in Q2.

Verstappen even led the way after the first runs in Q3, but Bottas rise to the challenge as the Mercedes drivers fired back on their second efforts.

Bottas ended up with the fastest middle sector on his final lap, a one minute, 25.269 seconds, which put him clear by 0.256 seconds as he shuffled Hamilton down to second, with the world champion ending up with the fastest time in the final sector.

Verstappen started his final lap with the quickest sector one time, but he faded as the lap wore on and he wound up 0.293 seconds adrift of pole.

Both Verstappen and Hamilton went slower in Q3 compared to their laps in the middle segment.

Charles Leclerc stunned Alex Albon to take fourth for Ferrari, with the Red Bull driver knocked down to fifth as a result.

All the leading cars will start Sunday’s race on the softs Pirelli, despite the Mercedes and Ferrari cars, and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, experimenting with the medium tyres early in Q2.

Ricciardo qualified sixth in Q3 ahead of his teammate Esteban Ocon, with Lando Norris qualifying eighth ahead of Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc’s late improvement to set the fifth fastest time in Q1 knocked out his Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel, who set a personal best on his final lap in the middle segment but wound up being shuffled down to P11.

Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat also improved on their final runs in Q2, but they were both knocked out in P12 and P13, while a last-gasp lap from Antonio Giovinazzi gave him P14 for Alfa Romeo ahead of Haas driver Kevin Magnussen.

In Q1, Hulkenberg, who was always due to travel to the Nurburgring on Saturday to work for German broadcaster RTL before his late call-up to replace the unwell Stroll ahead of qualifying, was out early to learn the track in the Canadian’s RP20.

He completed a run of several laps on the softs as soon as the opening segment got under way and spent most of the session at the foot of the times, although he was briefly able to move up to P19 ahead of the final runs in Q1.

Hulkenberg’s final lap featured a deep moment at the first corner and brief lock ups on the right front and left front respectively at Turn 6 – the right-hander that runs down towards the hairpin – and on the approach to the final chicane.

He set a personal best but lost time in the final sector and wound up last, 0.204 seconds slower than Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Romain Grosjean missed the cut after having his best lap of the session – a one minute, 27.118 seconds – deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 4 in the shadow of the Mercedes grandstand that overlooks the corner and Turn 1.

The Haas driver was able to set another time in the closing moments but was shuffled down and out ahead of the Williams pair George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, as they finished P17 and P18.

So congratulations to Valtteri Bottas with pole. After winning the Russian Grand Prix, the momentum is looking good for Bottas. Bring on the racing action!

Qualifying positions, Eifel Grand Prix:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:25.269
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.525
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:25.562
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:26.035
5 Alex Albon Red Bull Racing-Honda 1:26.047
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:26.223
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:26.242
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:26.458
9 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:26.704
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:26.709
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:26.738
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:26.776
13 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:26.848
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:26.936
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:27.125
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:27.552
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:27.564
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:27.812
19 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:27.817
20 Nico Hulkenberg Racing Point-Mercedes 1:28.021

Bottas wins Russian Grand Prix following Hamilton penalty

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas won his second Russian Grand Prix from Max Verstappen as his teammate Lewis Hamilton was served a double time penalty for pre-race practice start violation.

Hamilton completed two practice starts on his reconnaissance laps to the grid at Sochi including one towards the end of the pitlane exit, which was against the instructions issued in the pre-event race director’s notes issued by the FIA’s Michael Masi.

The world champion therefore went into the race under investigation, with the ruling issued during the first stint as he tried to defend his position on the soft tyres ahead of Bottas and Verstappen on their medium rubber.

At the start, Hamilton led away from pole as Bottas immediately moved past Verstappen on the run through the kink of Turn 1, with the polesitter then moving to defend the inside of the braking zone for Turn 2.

Bottas attacked around the outside and briefly got ahead, but his momentum carried him over the kerbs on the outside and he had to catch a brief slide moving over the kerbs, which allowed Hamilton to retake the lead running through the long left of Turn 3.

Verstappen was among several drivers who cut the runoff at Turn 2 and he was passed by Daniel Ricciardo going into the right of Turn 4, but he immediately retook the position at the next right-hander, with Ricciardo then losing fourth to his teammate Esteban Ocon as he slid out of Turn 7.

But the race was then suspended as Carlos Sainz Jr. had crashed following Verstappen through the mandated path to rejoin the track into Turn 3, with the McLaren hitting the wall on the outside of the marker boards hard with its left front and the wreckage sliding back across the track, forcing several drivers to check up.

A few moments later, Charles Leclerc clipped Lance Stroll with his left front as they exited Turn 4 and the Racing Point was pitched into the wall and out of the race, with the safety car deployed shortly afterwards.

The race restarted on lap six of 53, with Hamilton easily keeping hold of the lead as the there was little drama when the safety car pulled in and the drivers roared back to full speed.

Over the first stint, Hamilton and Bottas exchanged quicker times in the low one minute, 41 seconds and high one minute, 40 seconds, but the world champion was slowly able to extend his lead.

But the news soon came that he was being handed a pair of five-second penalties for his pre-race infraction, which meant he had to wait ten seconds before Mercedes could service his car at his first stop.

Hamilton came in on lap 16, two laps after telling Mercedes not to bring him in as he set a pair of fastest laps in the one minute, 39 seconds, where he had had a lead of 2.7 seconds.

He rejoined just outside the top ten, but crucially ahead of Riccardo, who had pitted a few laps earlier and was an undercut threat that Mercedes had to cover – much to its driver’s frustration.

Bottas immediately upped his pace with a string of fastest laps in the low one minute, 39 seconds, as he brought his medium tyre advantage to bear and edged away from Verstappen – who was also setting a series of personal bests, albeit a chunk slower than the Mercedes each lap.

Mercedes kept Bottas out until lap 26, one lap after Verstappen had come in to exchange his mediums for hards, and once the leader had taken his own white-walled tyres, he emerged with a lead of 9.7 seconds over the Red Bull, with Hamilton 15.4 seconds adrift of P1.

The top three were now considerably spread out, and the gaps got larger through the opening laps of the second stint, with Bottas quickly extending his lead above 12 seconds, while Hamilton dropped back to over ten seconds behind Verstappen.

A then fastest lap helped Bottas extend his lead up to 13.1 seconds, but as he adjusted his pace again Verstappen was able to close that down bit by bit, with the Mercedes remaining comfortable in the lead.

It came down to 5.5 seconds at the end of lap 50 as Bottas controlled his pace and then had to negotiate traffic, with Verstappen having to do the same in the final laps.

The two leaders exchanged fastest laps on the final tours, with Bottas claiming the extra point and then coming home 7.7 seconds clear.

Hamilton remained around ten seconds behind Verstappen for most of the closing laps, but faded further at the very end and finished 15 seconds behind the Red Bull.

Sergio Perez, who had fallen behind the Renaults at the start, finished fourth after taking advantage of Ocon and Ricciardo getting stuck behind Sebastian Vettel after their early stops, and he came home by himself, 7.8 seconds behind Hamilton.

Ricciardo finished fifth despite getting a five-second time penalty for cutting over the Turn 2 kerbs when being allowed by Ocon to attack, and then pass, Vettel in the middle phase of the race.

The Australian was able to create a gap large enough to remain ahead of Charles Leclerc once the penalty had been applied, with the Ferrari driver jumping up the order from P10 on the grid after completing a long first stint on the mediums – at one point running as high as second before he stopped for the hards.

Ocon came home seventh, just ahead of Daniil Kvyat, who had completed a similar strategy to Leclerc but starting on the hards, with Pierre Gasly leading home Alex Albon, who had stopped under the safety car.

Both Gasly and Albon completed two stoppers and enjoyed a lively scrap with Lando Norris – who finished down in 15th after taking his own second stop late on having pitted with Albon at the start – in the closing stages.

Albon was another driver to get a five-second penalty for cutting the Turn 2 runoff and not respecting the bollards – which were destroyed at one stage when Romain Grosjean went through them, causing a brief virtual safety car so the broken boards could be moved.

But Albon had enough time in hand over Antonio Giovinazzi to remain P10.

So well done for Valtteri Bottas in winning the Russian Grand Prix. This was his second victory this season. Yes, the penalty for his teammate cleared the path for Bottas to take the win. But can he fight Lewis Hamilton for the title? Let’s see what the other races has in store in terms of the championship.

Russian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:34:00.364s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 7.729s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 22.729s
4 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 30.558s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 52.065s
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:02.186s
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:08.006s
8 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:08.740s
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:29.766s
10 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:37.860s
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
13 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +1 lap
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
15 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault +1 lap
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
17 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
19 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault Collision
20 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes Collision

Hamilton takes Russian Grand Prix pole

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position at Sochi despite the panic in not setting a Q2 lap following the crash of Sebastian Vettel. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start the Russian Grand Prix in second, beating Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton also faces a post-qualifying investigation for a track limits violation – along with Nicholas Latifi, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen – in Q1, and is the only driver in the top three who will start the race on the soft Pirelli as a result of his Q2 near-miss.

In that session, where spots of rain were reported early on, Mercedes sent both of its cars out on the medium compound, as Red Bull did with Verstappen.

But both Hamilton and Bottas were forced to do second runs on the harder rubber as the former had his time deleted for a track limits violation at the final corner and the latter’s first effort was poor.

Bottas was then able set a time good enough to get him through to Q3, but Hamilton had to abort his second run when Vettel crashed at Turn 4 bringing out the red flag.

The Ferrari driver appeared to clip the kerb on the inside of the right hander and the rear quickly got away from him, spinning into the wall on the outside and knocking his front wing – which was struck by the closely following Leclerc – and his right front wheel.

When the session restarted, Mercedes sent Hamilton out on soft tyres, which means Bottas will start on the opposite strategy on the medium tyres along with Verstappen, who headed the pack urgently getting to the line to complete a final run with two minutes, 15 seconds on the clock after Vettel’s crash.

Verstappen was also running softs and looked to be improving on his previous Q2 best on the mediums, but he abandoned his run so he will take the start on the harder rubber, which is expected to be a better race tyre in what will be one-stop event.

Hamilton, who slide wide at Turn 2 on his out lap as he ran down the queue of cars desperately trying to make it into the top ten shootout, crossed the line with barely a second remaining on the clock.

But he was able race around and get through with the fourth fastest time in Q2, which was headed by Ricciardo, with the last lap set and knock out a frustrated Charles Leclerc as a result.

In Q3, Hamilton led the way with a one minute, 31.391 seconds, while Bottas had to close a 0.793 seconds gap after the opening runs in the final shootout.

Bottas did improve on his final run, despite clouting the kerb at the exit of Turn 2, but was still five tenths behind even before Hamilton completed his final lap – one minute, 31.304 seconds, which is a new track record and gives him his first pole in Sochi since 2014.

Verstappen set his final lap much later than the two Mercedes and was running fractionally behind Bottas in the opening two sectors before he surged ahead with a rapid final sector to join Hamilton on the front row.

Sergio Perez will start fourth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr, while Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon rounded out the top ten.

Daniil Kvyat took P12 for AlphaTauri ahead of Lance Stroll, who was pushed out of the queue before the urgent final Q2 laps with a suspected issue, and George Russell and Vettel.

Russell set his sole lap in Q2 when he ran solo during a mid-session lull before Vettel’s crash and he went 0.5 seconds quicker than his Q1 time to make it out of the opening segment for the first time in three races.

In Q1, Russell’s last-gasp improvement to reach Q2 knocked out Romain Grosjean, who will start P16, as the Ferraris scraped through in P14 and P15 in the opening segment.

Antonio Giovinazzi ended up P17 ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi, who, along with Grosjean, went into the final Q1 runs without a time set after being among the group of runners – also including Hamilton, Gasly and Magnussen – who had their opening laps deleted for cutting the kerbs at Turn 2.

Kimi Raikkonen qualified last for the race where he will equal Rubens Barrichello’s record for most Formula 1 starts – assuming he takes the start on Sunday – after spinning on his full lap.

Raikkonen went into a 360 spin after striking the orange track limits deterrent kerb at the Turn 2 apex, which looped him around and he toured slowly around the inside of the ensuing long Turn 3 to avoid disrupting those cars following the Alfa Romeo.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with this 96th career pole position. The opportunity to match Michael Schumacher’s 91 victories is possible by starting at the front of the pack. Bring on the Russian Grand Prix racing action.

Russian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.304
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:31.867
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:31.956
4 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:32.317
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:32.364
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:32.550
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:32.624
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:32.847
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:33.000
10 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:33.008
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:33.239
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:33.249
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:33.364
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:33.583
15 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.609
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:34.592
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:34.594
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:34.681
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:35.066
20 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:35.267

Hamilton wins a wild Mugello race

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton extended his Formula 1 points lead by winning a wild Tuscan Grand Prix that was interrupted by two red flags and three safety cars.

Hamilton recorded his 90th career victory, followed home by his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to score a one-two finish while Alexander Albon finally achieved his maiden podium finish, capitalising on a race of attrition that saw just 12 cars finish.

Despite losing the lead of the race at the original start, Hamilton managed to grab the advantage back from Bottas following the first red flag, and then keep his cool to record his sixth win of the season in dominant fashion.

It sees Hamilton extend his lead in the drivers’ championship to 55 points with eight races remaining this season, after picking up the bonus point for the fastest lap late on.

The start saw Bottas make a better getaway than pole-sitter Hamilton to grab the lead into Turn 1, as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc moved up to third after Max Verstappen fell back into the pack, reporting a lack of power.

Verstappen’s race lasted just one more corner after he was hit from behind by Kimi Raikkonen, sending the Red Bull into the gravel and out of the race. Italian Grand Prix winner Pierre Gasly’s race also ended at Turn 2 following a clash with Raikkonen prior to the Alfa Romeo’s contact with Verstappen, resulting in the safety car being deployed. Romain Grosjean and Sebastian Vettel were also caught up in the collision, but were able to continue.

Once the cars had been cleared, the safety car was called in at the end of lap six, only to be deployed again just moments later following a multi-car crash on the pit straight.

After Bottas opted to slow the pack for the restart, many of the drivers further back misjudged when to accelerate, resulting in Antonio Giovinazzi running into the rear of Haas driver Kevin Magnussen.

The cars also collected both Carlos Sainz and Nicholas Latifi, putting all four drivers out of the race and leaving debris strewn across the pit straight that forced the race to be red flagged.

A 25-minute wait followed before the race resumed on lap ten with a standing start on the grid, albeit with only 13 cars after Esteban Ocon was forced to retire with a brake issue.

Despite his brakes smoking on the grid, Hamilton was able to sweep around the outside of Bottas at Turn 1 to retake the lead of the race, with the two Mercedes quickly pulling clear on a fresh set of medium compound tyres.

Leclerc was able to hang on to third position for Ferrari on the restart, but soon faced pressure from the cars behind as he struggled for straight-line speed. Lance Stroll was able to move into the final podium position on lap 18 with a pass on Leclerc, who then lost places on consecutive laps to Daniel Ricciardo, Alexander Albon and Sergio Perez, dropping the Ferrari back to seventh before pitting for a set of hard tyres.

Hamilton was initially able to maintain a stable gap of two seconds to Bottas following the restart, but saw his advantage swell as his teammate struggled with wear on his front tyres.

Bottas radioed the Mercedes pit wall to request the opposite tyre compound to Hamilton at the next pitstop in a bid to close the gap, which had grown to more than seven seconds by the time he came in at the end of lap 31 for hard tyres.

Mercedes informed Hamilton it was pitting Bottas first for safety reasons before bringing the race leader in one lap later. Hamilton was also fitted with hard tyres, matching Bottas’ strategy, and emerged from the pits with a gap of over six seconds.

In the battle to complete the podium, Renault moved to get the undercut on Stroll by bringing Ricciardo in at the end of lap 27 for a fresh set of medium tyres. Racing Point reacted three laps later, but it was too late to keep Stroll ahead as Ricciardo got the jump, cycling back to third once Albon had made his pitstop for Red Bull and dropped back to fifth.

Eager to protect its advantage and look after both cars, Mercedes informed Hamilton and Bottas with 20 laps remaining that they should stay off all kerbs and look after their tyres. Bottas quipped that a “safety car would be nice right now”, having seen Hamilton’s lead stabilise at six seconds.

His wish was granted five laps later when the safety car was deployed following a crash for fourth-placed Stroll at Turn 9, going off at high speed into the tyre barrier after his car snapped on the kerb. Although his Racing Point RP20 car was left with heavy damage, Stroll was able to get out of the car unassisted and walk away from the crash site, reporting a puncture.

The majority of drivers quickly reacted to the safety car being deployed by pitting for fresh tyres, with Hamilton retaining his advantage over Bottas despite coming in one lap later.

But the race was subsequently red-flagged for a second time on lap 45 so that the tyre barrier repairs could be completed at Turn 9, setting up a final 13-lap sprint to the finish with just 12 cars still running, all of whom took soft tyres for the restart.

The third standing start of the race saw Bottas struggle once again, slipping behind Ricciardo on the run to Turn 1 as Hamilton streaked clear in the lead. Bottas was able to recover second position one lap later, sweeping around the outside of Ricciardo, while Albon picked off Perez for fourth as he set his sights on his maiden F1 podium.

Albon was able to close up Ricciardo two laps later, getting side-by-side around the outside of Turn 1 before sweeping past into third position. The Red Bull driver was given the hurry-up to catch Bottas, who was forced to pick up his pace in the Mercedes in response.

But Hamilton was able to match Bottas’ pace throughout the closing stages, eventually finishing the race 4.8 seconds clear to record victory at Mugello, picking up the bonus point for the fastest lap in the process.

Bottas crossed the line second ahead of Albon, who was able to record his maiden F1 podium finish for Red Bull in third.

Ricciardo matched his best result since joining Renault by finishing fourth, falling just shy of his first podium since Monaco 2018 and winning a podium bet with team principal Cyril Abiteboul.

Perez crossed the line fifth for Racing Point after a race-long battle with Lando Norris that saw him pull clear after the final restart, leaving the McLaren driver in sixth place at the chequered flag.

Daniil Kvyat recorded his best result of the season so far for AlphaTauri, finishing seventh, while Ferrari managed to record a double-point finish to mark its 1,000th race. Charles Leclerc made three pitstops as he struggled with tyre wear, but gained eighth place after Kimi Raikkonen received a five-second time penalty for crossing the white line at pit entry, dropping him to ninth.

Sebastian Vettel finished P10 for Ferrari, marking his first points since the Spanish Grand Prix after getting the jump on Williams’ George Russell at the final restart.

Russell had been on course for his maiden F1 points through much of the race, only to drop back in the closing stages and finish the race P11, matching his best result in F1.

Romain Grosjean was the final classified finisher for Haas in P12, finishing almost ten seconds behind Russell.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in winning a wacky Mugello race. His 90th in Formula 1 and just one away for equalling the great Michael Schumacher’s win record. After an exciting and dramatic Tuscan Grand Prix, a plea to Liberty Media and F1 to please make a return to this track next year.

Tuscan Grand Prix, race result:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2:19:35.060
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 4.880
3 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 8.064
4 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 10.417
5 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 15.650
6 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 18.883
7 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 21.756
8 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 28.345
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 29.770
10 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 29.983
11 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 32.404
12 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 42.036
– Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes DNF
– Esteban Ocon Renault DNF
– Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari DNF
– Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari DNF
– Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault DNF
– Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda DNF
– Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda DNF

Hamilton takes pole position at Tuscan Grand Prix

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for Formula 1’s inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes rival Valtteri Bottas, with Max Verstappen third for Red Bull Racing.

Italian Grand Prix winner Pierre Gasly suffered a shock elimination in Q1, which resulted in one of his worst qualifying result of the 2020 season so far.

The battle for pole was ultimately settled by the first runs in Q3 as Esteban Ocon’s spin on his sole run late in the final segment brought out the yellow flags.

Therefore Hamilton’s lap of one minute, 15.144 seconds – a new Mugello F1 track record – stood as the quickest time, even though the six-time world champion was running ahead of the incident on his second Q3 run – where he failed to improve.

Bottas was 0.059 seconds adrift of Hamilton’s best time after the first run, but he left the pits further behind in the pack compared to his teammate and abandoned his last lap as he came across the Ocon incident at Turn 3, Poggio Secco, where the Renault driver had dip a wheel into the gravel and spun off backwards.

Verstappen was able to get a second Q3 lap in and set a personal best, but was still 0.365 seconds adrift of Hamilton, who only got ahead of Bottas for the first time in the weekend when he topped Q2.

Alex Albon took fourth, with Charles Leclerc giving Ferrari something to enjoy ahead of its 1000th world championship Formula 1 race as he took fifth with the last improvement in Q3, coming off a poor result at Monza last weekend for the Scuderia.

Sergio Perez completed his only Q3 run in the middle of segment and took sixth as no one else in the top ten could improve, which meant his Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll took seventh.

Daniel Ricciardo was eighth ahead of Carlos Sainz, while Ocon took P10 without setting a time in Q3.

Sainz’s last-gasp improvement in Q2 got him through to the final shootout, but at the expense of his teammate as Lando Norris was knocked out in 11th – the first time since the 2019 Italian Grand Prix that he has not made it through to Q3.

Daniil Kvyat took 12th despite going off at the exit of Savelli on his final lap in Q2, which he had to abandon as he as fully off the road and into the gravel, with Kimi Raikkonen P13 for Alfa Romeo.

Sebastian Vettel had another low-key qualifying result as he finished 14th, only ahead of Romain Grosjean in Q2.

In Q1, Vettel’s last-gasp improvement knocked out Gasly, who will start from his lowest grid spot of the season in P16 as a result.

Antonio Giovinazzi was shuffled down to P17 by the flurry of late times at the end of the opening segment, while George Russell maintained his 100% qualifying record against Nicholas Latifi despite a major off on this final lap.

The Williams driver, who missed much of FP3 to a brake-by-wire issue, slid wide at the exit of Savelli, with both right-side wheels in the gravel and the car bouncing across the grass as he shot back left for Arrabbiata 1.

But it did not disrupt his progress to a personal best time in Q1, which became P18 on the grid ahead of Latifi, who was the only driver of the five knocked out not to set a best time on his final run.

Kevin Magnussen qualified last for Haas.

So congratulations to Hamilton with yet another pole position. His seventh this season. Impressive qualifying form. Bring on the first race at Mugello next.

Tuscan Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.144
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:15.203
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:15.509
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:15.954
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:16.270
6 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:16.356
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:16.311
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:16.543
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:17.870
10 Esteban Ocon Renault No time
11 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:16.640
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:16.854
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:16.854
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:16.858
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:17.254
16 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.125
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:17.220
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:17.232
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:17.320
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:17.348

Perez is out at Racing Point as Vettel joins Aston Martin from 2021

Sergio Perez has parted ways from Racing Point at the end of this season as the team will be rebranded as Aston Martin Racing from 2021 onwards and in place of Perez will be the four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel has been linked with the outfit currently known as Racing Point since Ferrari revealed in May that he would not be retained after the end of this year.

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll targeted the four-time champion, who will clearly bring extra attention to the team from the very start under its new manufacturer-backed identity.

With Lance Stroll staying on that meant there was no seat for Sergio Perez, who is currently in his seventh season with the Silverstone team. On Wednesday evening the Mexican confirmed his departure by issuing a press release.

The signing of Vettel is another indication of how serious Lawrence Stroll is about building up the Aston Martin team. A new factory, adjacent to the current facility, is in the planning stages.

“I am pleased to finally share this exciting news about my future,” said Vettel. “I’m extremely proud to say that I will become an Aston Martin driver in 2021.

“It’s a new adventure for me with a truly legendary car company. I have been impressed with the results the team has achieved this year and I believe the future looks even brighter.

“The energy and commitment of Lawrence to the sport is inspiring and I believe we can build something very special together. I still have so much love for Formula 1 and my only motivation is to race at the front of the grid. To do so with Aston Martin will be a huge privilege.”

Team boss Otmar Szafnauer said: “Everybody at Silverstone is hugely excited by this news. Sebastian is a proven champion and brings a winning mentality that matches our own ambitions for the future as Aston Martin F1 Team.

“On a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, Sebastian is one of the best in the world, and I can’t think of a better driver to help take us into this new era. He will play a significant role in taking this team to the next level.”

So goodbye Perez and hello Vettel. It’s a shame that long serving member Sergio has to leave after racing with the Silverstone-based outfit since the Force India period. He actually signed a multi-year contract extension just last year to continue racing with the team. But Lawrence has changed that thanks to the Aston Martin connection and getting Vettel’s signature.

Best of luck to both drivers in their path to success in Formula 1. Is Perez off to join Haas or Alfa Romeo? Can Vettel regain his confidence and enthusiasm following a difficult few races at Ferrari this year? Only time will tell.

Gasly wins for AlphaTauri at Monza

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly won a dramatic Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr, with early leader Lewis Hamilton penalised for entering the pitlane during the safety car period.

Sainz chased Gasly over the second half of the race at Monza, which was red-flagged when Charles Leclerc crashed heavily at the Parabolica, but he could not find a way to finish second ahead of Lance Stroll.

Hamilton dominated the early stages of the race, but a 10-second stop/go penalty for pitting when the pitlane was closed following Kevin Magnussen’s broken Haas. This penalty dropped the championship leader to last but was able to charge back to seventh.

At the start, Valtteri Bottas appeared to react slower than Hamilton on the front row and he was quickly passed by Sainz on the run down to Turn 1, where the Mercedes driver was then put under pressure from Norris.

The Mercedes and the McLaren touched at the apex of Turn 2 and their battle continued through Curva Grande, with Lando Norris then attack Bottas around the outside of the della Roggia chicane.

They made more contact – wheel to wheel – as Norris barged by, with Bottas then falling behind Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo as he struggled to get up to speed on the run to Ascari, suspecting he had picked up a puncture, which Mercedes then assured him was not the case.

Up front, Hamilton edged  clear of Sainz, 1.3-seconds clear by the end of the first lap of 53.

The world champion set about extending that lead throughout the first stint, with Sainz quickly dropping his team-mate, who was soon being harassed by Perez.

Hamilton continued extending his lead over the next 18 laps, which reached 12.5 seconds by the time the race was turned on its head when Kevin Magnussen ground to a halt approaching the pitlane and the safety car was deployed.

His stricken Haas had to be pushed into the pitlane by the marshals, which meant the pitlane was closed – 11-seconds after the safety car was called out – but Hamilton headed in to switch to the medium Pirelli compound.

The rest stayed out – apart from Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, who was placed under investigation alongside the leader, with Mercedes telling Hamilton it expected him to get a penalty.

That penalties did come from race control, but only after the Italian Grand Prix was suspended after Leclerc’s massive accident at the exit of the Parabolica.

The pack had come in once Magnussen’s car was finally out of harm’s way and the pitlane was re-opened, which boosted the few cars that had stopped just before the safety car – including Gasly, Kimi Raikkonen and Leclerc, and Stroll, who did not come during the initial disruption.

At the end of the first lap after the restart – Leclerc lost the rear of his Ferrari as he accelerated out of the famous right-hander and as he corrected the slide his car snapped left and he shot into the barriers at high speed.

Leclerc was able to climb from his car and went to the medical centre for precautionary checks before being released, with the race stopped for over 25 minutes as the barrier was repaired, with the leading order Hamilton, Stroll, Gasly, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Sainz and Norris.

During this delay, Hamilton was handed the same 10-second stop/go penalty that had been given to Giovinazzi just before the red flag, and he climbed from his car to speak with his engineer at the head of the queue, then scooted down to speak to the Mercedes strategists and senior leadership before visiting the race control area of the main Monza pit building.

When the race got underway via a second standing start at the beginning of lap 28, Stroll made a slow getaway, which meant Gasly could surge ahead of the Racing Point and chase Hamilton, who pitted to serve his penalty at the end of the second ‘first’ lap.

That left Gasly running clear of Raikkonen, with Giovinazzi then dropped out of the lead fight as he served his penalty, with Sainz passing Stroll – who had cut the second chicane after locking up on the first lap of the restart to drop behind both Alfas – into Turn 1 on lap 29.

Gasly was then tasked with building a lead, while Sainz chased and then attacked Raikkonen into the first chicane on lap 34, muscling his way by at the apex of Turn 2 and setting off after the AlphaTauri.

At the start of lap 35, Gasly lead Sainz by 4.1 seconds, with the two new leaders initially lapping closely in the low one minute, 24 seconds.

Sainz was briefly able to get into the one minute, 23 seconds as he chased the leader, who looked calm in lead even as his lead was slowly erased over the remaining 18 laps.

The McLaren driver consistently cut Gasly’s lead but the dirty air coming off the AlphaTauri harmed his progress, struggling to get into DRS range.

He eventually managed it, but only on the final lap – with Gasly weaving to try and break the tow where he could – and Sainz was never able to run close enough to make a move for the lead.

Gasly therefore held on to win by 0.4 seconds, with Stroll third, 3.3 seconds adrift.

Norris took fourth as Raikkonen fell to P13 on the softs, with the rest of the front runners all on the mediums, ahead of Bottas, who struggled to make any progress in traffic.

Daniel Ricciardo was sixth, with his teammate Esteban Ocon, Daniil Kvyat and Sergio Perez rounding out the top ten.

The last three points scorers were overhauled by Hamilton, charging on the hards, as he recovered from P17 to finish seventh.

He was nearly 30 seconds off the lead when he served his penalty and, after a string of fastest laps, he cut his way into the points with a series of passes, eventually coming home 17.2 seconds behind Gasly.

Alex Albon, who clashed with Gasly at the initial ‘first corner’ in an incident that was not investigated, came home P15, while his teammate Max Verstappen retired shortly after the second start when Honda spotted a possible power unit issue.

Ferrari’s home race had got off to a bad start before Leclerc’s crash when Sebastian Vettel suffered a brake failure at Turn 1 on lap 6, and he retired in the pits after smashing through the first chicane’s runoff marker boards.

So a crazy race and yet many congratulations to Pierre Gasly in winning the Italian Grand Prix on merit with an outstanding drive for AlphaTauri. He handled the pressure from Carlos Sainz so well to score a dream victory. The safety car and red flag certainly mixed up the order but credit to Gasly’s driving to race win.

Italian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda   1:47:06.056
2 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 0.415
3 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 3.358
4 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 6.000
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 7.108
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 8.391
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 17.245
8 Esteban Ocon Renault 18.691
9 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 22.208
10 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 23.224
11 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 32.876
12 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 35.164
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 36.312
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 36.593
15 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 37.533
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 55.199
– Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda   DNF
– Charles Leclerc Ferrari    DNF
– Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari   DNF
– Sebastian Vettel Ferrari DNF