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

Hamilton sets new track record to pole position at Monza

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his seventh Italian Grand Prix pole, with the fastest ever lap in Formula 1 at the Temple of Speed.

Valtteri Bothas will form a Mercedes front row at Monza with an impressive Carlos Sainz Jr taking third for McLaren as Max Verstappen is pushed down to fifth position.

Sergio Perez ended up fourth, while the Ferraris were knocked out in the two segments of qualifying, with last year’s winner Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel ending up P13 and P17 respectively.

Unlike in 2019, the final runs in Q3 did not feature farcical scenes of the drivers jostling to get space for the optimum slipstream, but these actions did occur at the end of Q1 – with Vettel caught up.

Hamilton was ahead of the first runs in Q3 had been completed, with the two Mercedes cars not bothering with a tow as Bottas ran clear ahead of his teammate and Hamilton towed the rest of the pack.

Bottas had to close a 0.053 seconds gap on the final runs, and although he found time in all three sectors Hamilton ran faster to claim his seventh career pole at the Italian Grand Prix.

The world champion was fractionally slower in the final sector on his last run, but it did not cost him as he wound up ahead of Bottas by 0.069 seconds.

Sainz demoted Perez to fourth as the Racing Point driver was the only driver not to set a personal best on his final run in Q3.

Verstappen complained that he was “losing time on the straights” even as he ran closer to other cars on his first Q3 run, and although he found time on his last lap he wound up fifth, with Lando Norris sixth in the other McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo ended up seventh for Renault as he could not recreate his eye-catching pace versus his rivals in FP2, with Lance Stroll eighth.

Alex Albon did not have a time on the board heading into the final runs in Q3 after losing his first lap to a track limits violation at the Parabolica, but he kept his second and ended up ninth, as Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten.

At the end of Q2, few drivers improved at the end of the middle segment, where no drivers tried to get through on the medium tyres, which means the top ten will all start the race on the red-walled soft compound.

Daniil Kvyat finished P11, with Esteban Ocon knocked out despite running behind teammate Ricciardo early in his final Q2 lap to try and take advantage of the tow.

But Ricciardo put his left-side wheels off into the gravel as he exited the second chicane and he later slowed and abandoned his lap, with Ocon finishing his final flyer and not improving.

Leclerc ended up P13, calling his Q2 lap “the best I can do”, as Ferrari was again exposed by its straightline speed issues with the SF1000.

Kimi Raikkonen and Kevin Magnussen made it through to Q2, but Magnussen ran very wide into the gravel as he flew through the second Lesmo, which ruined his final lap in the middle segment.

In Q1, Vettel was the highest-profile casualty of race-like scenes on the final runs in the opening segment, where backing-up at the Parabolica meant several drivers – including the Ferrari driver fought for space at the right-hander and down the main straight.

Raikkonen and Ocon made it through to Q2, but nearly collided as the Alfa Romeo driver ran close to the Renault exiting the Curva Grande, with the former abandoning his final run in Q1.

But the chaos meant Nicholas Latifi, who was also involved, running just behind Ocon and Raikkonen and ahead of Vettel, was the only driver to set a personal best, although he still ended up P20 and last.

Romain Grosjean ended up just on the wrong side of the elimination cut off in P16, ahead of Vettel, who abandoned his final Q1 run as a result of the chaos earlier in the lap.

Behind Vettel came Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell, who criticised his Williams team over his radio for getting involved in the chaotic scenes – he followed Raikkonen and Ocon into the first corners – and not “capitalising” on the “f**k ups”.

Ocon, Raikkonen and Latifi will be investigated after qualifying.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with yet another fine qualifying performance. Even with the so-called ‘party mode’ banned, the qualifying speed in that Mercedes W11 is just unreal. Significant performance advantage. Bring on the Temple of Speed racing action!

Italian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.887
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:18.956
3 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:19.695
4 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:19.720
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:19.795
6 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:19.820
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:19.864
8 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:20.049
9 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:20.090
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:20.177
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:20.169
12 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:20.234
13 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:20.273
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:20.926
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:21.573
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:21.139
17 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:21.151
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:21.206
19 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:21.587
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:21.717