Hamilton victorious at Imola as Mercedes wins constructors’ title

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton beat Valtteri Bottas to victory in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, where Mercedes clinched their seventh constructors’ title, as a puncture took out Max Verstappen.

Hamilton easily survived a five-lap shootout to the finish following the Red Bull’s dramatic spinning retirement, racing away from Bottas, who had led the early stages before losing ground due to floor damage as he ran ahead of Verstappen.

At the start, Bottas comfortably led away on the long run to the Tamburello chicane, but Hamilton, although he reacted well, lost ground to Verstappen as they progressed through their acceleration away from the grid.

Verstappen was alongside by the time they arrived for the braking zone for the left first part of Tamburello and he easily moved into second place, with Hamilton even forced to defend slightly against Daniel Ricciardo, who had moved up fourth when Pierre Gasly was crowded out by the second Mercedes ahead on the approach to the race’s real first corner.

The top three quickly raced clear, much as they have at many other events this season, with Hamilton tracking Verstappen within a second early on, before falling back out of DRS range after he had reported difficulty following the Red Bull.

By the start of lap eight of 63, Ricciardo was already over ten seconds off first place, as the top three were able lap in the 1m19s bracket – more than a second quicker than the rest at this stage.

Bottas gradually edged his lead up to the two-second mark by the start of lap 16, where he was told to push as the soft-starting runners behind the top three began to pit to get rid of their suffering rubber.

Valtteri set a string of fastest laps in the one minute, 18 seconds, with Verstappen only able to reach that pace two laps later, with the Red Bull coming in at the end of lap 18 to take the hard compound tyres.

Bottas followed him in on the following tyre, easily rejoining in front, while Hamilton was told he would be extending his stint in a bid to jump Verstappen.

Hamilton had been nearly two seconds behind the Red Bull before it stopped, and so now Mercedes concentrated on how to get the world champion back into second place.

He produced a series of fastest laps, briefly reaching the one minute, 17 seconds, before Mercedes asked if he could go considerably longer as he reached the rear of the pack to lap the backmarkers.

Bottas, who was informed he had picked up floor damage on the left-hand side of his car in the second lap, possibly as a result of striking debris from another car, was just keeping Verstappen out of DRS range, but was regularly lapping slower than his teammate, before being told he was “one-second unsafe” to Hamilton on lap 30.

The lap before, Esteban Ocon had pulled over on the run to the Variante Alta with a suspected gearbox problem, and as the Renault was being recovered, race control opted to activate the virtual safety car.

This gave Hamilton the chance to pit and he rejoined easily still in the lead, with a near four-second margin to his teammate.

In the second half of the race, Hamilton quickly extended his lead over Bottas as he lapped in the low one minute, 18 seconds, reaching a 10-second advantage at the end of lap 40.

As Hamilton was untroubled up front, Bottas had to fend off Verstappen with his hobbled car.

He was able to stay ahead despite dipping his wheels into the gravel trap on the outside of the two Rivazza turns on lap 36, but when he went deeper into the gravel at the same spot six laps later, Verstappen got his chance to retake second.

He used DRS to close on the momentum-robbed Mercedes, and roared ahead around the outside on the approach to Tamburello at the start of the next lap.

Verstappen immediately reached Hamilton’s pace, but was unable to close his 13 seconds lead before he dramatically retired from the race on lap 51, when a sudden puncture of the right-rear of his car spun him off and out in the gravel at the Villeneuve chicane, coming to rest with his right-rear tyre destroyed.

Bottas pitted for used softs immediately as the safety car was called, but Hamilton was forced to wait an extra lap, and just rejoined ahead of his teammate, warned urgently to respect the delta time to avoid a penalty.

The race restarted on lap 58 – extended after George Russell crashed while following the safety car on the approach to the first part of the Acqua Minerali double-right, going into the wall on the outside of the track and out of P10.

This was such a disappointing result for Russell as he was about to score his first championship point for Williams. But alas, this crash under the safety car was heartbreaking.

Hamilton streaked clear from a 0.6 seconds lead at the restart, lowering the fastest lap considerably in the final tours, setting it for good on the last lap, to win by 5.7 seconds over Bottas and seal Mercedes’ seventh constructors title in succession.

In the pack behind, Ricciardo took what had at one stage looked like an unlikely best-of-the-rest finish in third for Renault.

The Australian was boosted up to the final podium spot by not stopping under the safety car, while Sergio Perez, who had risen up ahead of Ricciardo from P11 on the grid, starting on the advantageous mediums and running longer in the first stint as a result, did come in.

That dropped Perez back behind Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon, with Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris also taking fresh soft rubber during the interruption.

Kvyat used it best, shooting up to fourth when the race resumed – including a brave pass on the outside up the hill to the Piratella turn – but he could not cut into Ricciardo’s advantage and finished 0.8 seconds adrift at the flag.

Leclerc held onto fifth, with Perez sixth after passing Albon at the Villeneuve chicane and the Red Bull spinning down to last place on the exit.

Sainz was seventh ahead of his teammate Norris, with Alfa Romeo pair Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi rising up from P18 and last on the grid to take the final points positions.

Raikkonen ran longest of anyone before stopping, getting into the points after the two late crashes, with the safety car boosting Giovinazzi who had run the reverse strategy to his teammate, stopping early after starting on the softs.

Nicholas Latifi finished 0.7 seconds off the first point of his Formula 1 career in P11, leading home Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll and Romain Grosjean – who all stopped under the safety car while the Williams did not (Stroll knocking over his Racing Point jack-man as he slid into his pitbox with cold brakes).

The other non-finishers were Kevin Magnussen, who retired in the pits after reporting his car’s upshifts were giving him a headache, and Gasly, who also came into retire – in his case on lap seven

So congratulations to Mercedes in winning this year’s constructors title. That’s seven consecutive times in the turbo-hybrid era. Incredible achievement in this sport.

Imola race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:28:32.430
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 5.783
3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 14.320
4 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 15.141
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 19.111
6 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 19.652
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 20.230
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 21.131
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 22.224
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 26.398
11 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 27.135
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 28.453
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 29.163
14 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 32.935
15 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 57.284
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda DNF
– Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari DNF
– Esteban Ocon Renault DNF
– Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda DNF

5 thoughts to “Hamilton victorious at Imola as Mercedes wins constructors’ title”

  1. Imola race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton spearheaded Mercedes claiming their record seventh consecutive constructors’ title at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, leading home team mate Valtteri Bottas and a delighted Daniel Ricciardo – but there was late race drama as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen retired from P2 after appearing to suffer a tyre issue, bringing out a Safety Car that led to a climactic race ending.

    Bottas had enjoyed a strong start to the Imola race from pole position, leading into Turn 2 as Hamilton lost out to Verstappen on the run down to Tamburello on Lap 1 and moved to third.

    But Mercedes’ decision to give Hamilton a long first stint paid dividends when Renault’s Esteban Ocon retired at the side of the track on Lap 29, the resultant Virtual Safety Car allowing Hamilton to pit from the lead – Bottas and Verstappen having boxed earlier in the race – and retain P1.

    But with 12 laps to go, Verstappen’s retirement at Villeneuve led to a full Safety Car, setting up a breathless final few laps of the race, which ultimately saw Hamilton hold on to win out from Bottas, while Ricciardo secured his second podium of the season for Renault after holding off a late charge from AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, who finished a brilliant fourth as he fights for his F1 future.

    Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc came home fifth, holding off the Racing Point of Sergio Perez, who’d gambled with a late stop under the Safety Car. The McLaren duo of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris claimed P7 and P8, while it was a fantastic day for Alfa Romeo, who took their first double points finish of the year, Kimi Raikkonen leading Antonio Giovinazzi in P9 and P10, the Finn having made a 49-lap stint work to his advantage.

    Meanwhile, after a brilliant effort to qualify P4, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly suffered a coolant leak that forced him to retire from the race on Lap 8 – while in a bizarre incident, Williams’ George Russell spun into retirement under the Safety Car on Lap 53.

    For Mercedes, though, there were scenes of jubilation, as they continued to re-write the F1 history books with an amazing seventh consecutive constructors’ title.

    Beneath crisp autumnal skies, Valtteri Bottas lined up on pole position, the view in front of him the long dog-legged run down to Turn 2, and the infamous Tamburello. Could he hold off the attack of his team mate Lewis Hamilton, lurking with intent back and to the right of him?

    Both Mercedes got away in step when the lights went out, but Hamilton appeared to get bogged down in the second phase of his launch and was swamped on the left by the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, and on the right by the fast-starting AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly – the only driver to start in the top four on soft tyres.

    Hamilton had to defend from someone and chose to go right, allowing Verstappen through to take P2 behind Bottas into Tamburello, as Hamilton squeezed Gasly. The Frenchman briefly lost ground to the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, before toughing it around the outside of Turn 2 and taking P5.

    It was P5 because Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo had opportunistically nipped through when Gasly had been outmuscled by Hamilton, Ricciardo thus taking fourth, ahead of Gasly, Leclerc and Albon, who’d dropped a place at the start. Behind them, Lance Stroll tagged the Renault of Esteban Ocon at Turn 2 costing himself a front wing that was replaced at the end of the first lap, while down at Tosa, Sebastian Vettel nerfed Haas’ Kevin Magnussen into a spin – the stewards investigating but deciding not to take any action.

    It was a dream scenario early doors for Bottas then, who’d not only beaten Hamilton to Turn 2, but now had Verstappen as a buffer between him and his team mate around the narrow, hard-to-follow-at Imola. By Lap 10, Bottas’ advantage over Verstappen was only 1.5s, the Dutchman with the same advantage to Hamilton behind – but the Finn looked comfortable out front.

    There was a collective groan on Lap 8 as Gasly, who’d driven brilliantly all weekend, was ordered to retire his AlphaTauri AT01, with the team having been spotted working on the car before the race start, while a coolant leak was ultimately cited as the reason. It was a cruel fate for the Frenchman, who resignedly climbed out of the boxed AT01 and removed his Ayrton Senna tribute helmet.

    The teams had only had 90 minutes of practice at Imola to try out all three tyre compounds – and it seemed in the early stages of the race that tyre degradation had been higher than anticipated. Leclerc was one of the first of the frontrunners to pit on Lap 13, despite having started on the mediums, the Monegasque triggering the pit stops of the cars around him, as Ricciardo, Alex Albon and Daniil Kvyat pitted on the following lap.

    All those drivers took on hards, with the order remaining constant, Ricciardo heading Leclerc, with the Monegasque nearly outbraking himself into the Tosa gravel as he desperately tried to get past, while behind Albon was forced to fend off an attack from Kvyat, the pair making light contact at Tamburello on Lap 17.

    Verstappen pitted on Lap 18, with Bottas brought in at the end of the following lap. Prior to the Finn’s pit stop, Hamilton was pushing hard in a bid to overcut his way back into contention. “I’m going to pick up the pace,” he told engineer Pete Bonnington. “Don’t stop me.” Bonnington appeared to agree with his driver, though, as he radioed to tell Hamilton to extend his stint, with Hamilton duly getting his head down and pumping in quick laps.

    Bonnington was on the radio again on Lap 26 asking whether Hamilton, who was approaching a long line of backmarkers, could extend by a further 10 laps. “I can definitely go longer,” his driver replied breathlessly.

    Slower cars were concerning the group behind the Hamilton-Bottas-Verstappen fight too, with Kevin Magnussen having climbed up to P8 thanks to a long first stint. But the Dane – who would eventually retire from the race on Lap 49, suffering headaches caused by violent upshifts on his Haas – was quickly passed on Lap 27 by Ricciardo and Leclerc.

    Magnussen holding up that group, though, appeared to have played perfectly into the hands of Sergio Perez, who’d maximised the opportunity of starting with a free tyre choice in P11 to climb to P4, before pitting and taking up P7 ahead of Ricciardo.

    Lap 29 saw Esteban Ocon retire with a suspected gearbox issue – a minor occurrence that had a major effect on the outcome race. With the Virtual Safety Car activated by the parked Ocon, Hamilton was perfectly positioned to nip into the pits and take on the hard tyres. As Bottas was forced to trundle around, Hamilton had enough time in hand to emerge from the pits with his lead intact, 4s up the road from Bottas – who must have been wondering what more the racing gods wanted from him…

    There was more bad news for Bottas, too, who had Verstappen in close company as Hamilton quickly opened his lead out at the front, with Mercedes then radioing Bottas to tell him that he had significant damage to the floor of his car, as well as debris lodged in the bodywork that he’d run over on Lap 2.

    Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, had stealthily stayed out until Lap 39 on his medium tyres before taking his pit stop, climbing as high as P4 before diving into the pits. A catastrophic stop, though, saw him stationary for 13.1s as his mechanics struggled to affix both his right-front and left-rear tyres, leaving him P14 when he eventually emerged from the pits.

    With 20 laps to go, things again appeared to take a turn for the worse for Bottas, who outbraked himself into Rivazza, allowing Verstappen to close up and pass the Finn for P2 around the outside of Tamburello. “Senddddd it!” screamed a jubilant Verstappen into his radio, as he quickly opened up a gap over Bottas, who was clearly struggling for pace with his hobbled Mercedes. Verstappen’s joy, however, would be shortlived…

    Verstappen’s pass on Bottas had left the order as Hamilton leading, 12s up the road from Verstappen, Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen – who had yet to pit – then the wily Perez, Ricciardo, Leclerc, Albon, Kvyat and Carlos Sainz in the final points paying position, ahead of his team mate Lando Norris. Imola has provided some stellar action over the years, though – and it had a trick up its sleeve before this race was done.

    Verstappen was looking well-placed for a clear run to P2 when on Lap 51 of 63, he appeared to suffer a tyre issue, spinning off into the gravel at Villeneuve corner and into retirement, while also bringing out the Safety Car. Bottas, at last having some luck as he moved back to P2, pitted immediately, with Hamilton following his team mate in on the following lap for soft tyres and retaining the lead.

    George Russell, meanwhile, booted the throttle of his Williams behind the Safety Car and smeared his car down the wall going into Acque Minerale. “I don’t know what to say,” said Russell, before scrambling to safety and sitting dismayed on the Imola grass.

    Crucially, Perez and Kvyat had also opted to pit under the Safety Car, giving them fresh soft rubber for the final few laps to attack the likes of Ricciardo, Leclerc and Albon. It was Kvyat who used that new rubber to the best effect when the race restarted on Lap 58, quickly passing both Albon and Perez before putting a beautiful move on Leclerc around the outside of Piratella to claim P4 and get after Ricciardo, who’d found himself back in the podium positions once again.

    Behind, Perez made it past Albon at Tamburello, but Albon then made what looked to be an unforced error, spinning his Red Bull around and dropping himself to the back of the pack – something that won’t have impressed his Red Bull paymasters currently evaluating whether or not to give the Thai driver another go-around in 2021.

    Up at the front, though, Hamilton had the situation in hand, as he duly headed home what had briefly looked like an unlikely Mercedes 1-2, and bag a record-breaking seventh constructors’ title – a huge moment for the team, and one that a euphoric Hamilton said he would delight in telling his grandchildren about one day.

    With the fastest lap bonus point too, the now-85 point lead over Bottas also means that Hamilton’s own seventh title looks a practical certainty.

    If the Mercedes had starred, though, so too had Ricciardo, whose brilliant start had put him in a position to claim an incredible second podium of the season with the Renault team that he’ll leave in four races’ time. A shoey with race winner Hamilton duly followed – but Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul insisted there would be no second tattoo coming.

    Kvyat had done exceptionally well to work his way up to P4 at the flag, choosing the perfect time to remind the Red Bull bosses that he could still do a job in F1, while Leclerc took his second-straight top-five finish for Ferrari – as team mate Vettel could only take P13 after his slow stop.

    Perez’s late pit stop ultimately left him an angry sixth – the Mexican feeling that his first podium of the season had been well within reach – while he finished ahead of the McLaren duo of Sainz and Norris, who’d once again appeared to lack the ultimate pace of their upper midfield rivals on race day.

    The top 10 was closed out by the Alfa Romeos, who enjoyed the team’s best race of the year to claim ninth and 10th, Raikkonen’s epic first stint meaning he headed home boy Antonio Giovinazzi, who’d started the race last.

    On a day when Red Bull needed to score at least 33 points to stand a chance of preventing Mercedes taking the constructors’ title, though, the Milton Keynes team left Imola with nothing, as Albon eventually came home P15. In a way it summed up how 2020 has gone so far, with Red Bull coming close – but never quite able to properly arrest – the momentum of the mighty, and now seven-time constructors’ champions, Mercedes.

  2. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas says he couldn’t avoid Sebastian Vettel’s broken endplate. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Valtteri Bottas said he had no chance to avoid the debris that got lodged under his car at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and wrecked his Formula 1 victory hopes.

    The Finn had kept the lead from pole position at the start of the race at Imola and appeared comfortable out front early on.

    However, on the second lap at the Tosa corner, he struck a broken endplate piece from Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, which had come off when the German collided with Kevin Magnussen on the first lap.

    Bottas aimed to run over the debris straight on, and so avoid the risk of a puncture, but the piece got lodged under the Finn’s car and caused damage to his floor.

    “The start was good, and that was one of the main things to get right today,” said Bottas afterwards, who lost aerodynamic performance thanks to the damaged floor.

    “On lap two, suddenly out of turn seven, there was debris. I didn’t have time to avoid it. I aimed in the middle of the car at least, and tried not to run over that with the tyres.

    “But obviously it caused some damage or something which made the car quite tricky to drive.”

    The loss of performance that Bottas suffered allowed Lewis Hamilton to overcut him at the pi stops, and also dropped the Finn into the clutches of Max Verstappen.

    Following several lock-ups as he pushed as hard as he could, Bottas was unable to keep his Red Bull rival behind him.

    “I was really pushing hard to try and avoid Max getting through,” he said. “I had to push over all my limits and that led to a mistake, so I was unlucky.”

    Bottas eventually came home in second place after Verstappen suffered a late puncture and spun off the track at the second chicane, bringing out a late safety car.

    Mercedes was able to remove the Vettel debris during a subsequent safety car pit stop, but it was too late for it not to have had a dramatic impact on his race.

    Team boss Toto Wolff said: “It was stuck underneath his car. It was debris he over ran over on lap two and he couldn’t avoid it.”

  3. Imola race winner Lewis Hamilton hails Mercedes’ achievement in the sport as “unbelievable” by winning a seventh constructors’ title. Motorsport.com has the full details.

    Lewis Hamilton paid tribute to Mercedes after the team clinched a record-breaking seventh consecutive Formula 1 constructors’ championship on Sunday at Imola, calling the achievement “unbelievable”.

    Hamilton led home Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas for a one-two finish in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, putting the Briton on the brink of a seventh drivers’ championship.

    But the result was enough to comfortably wrap up the constructors’ championship for Mercedes, which required one car finishing in the top four to create an unassailable lead over Red Bull heading into the final four races of the year.

    It sees Mercedes break the record of six constructors’ titles in a row that it jointly held with Ferrari (1999-2004), and move up to fourth in the all-time list for team crowns.

    Race winner Hamilton said it felt “overwhelming” after the race as he paid tribute to the Mercedes team for its achievements.

    “I look at my crew, this team here, and I know all the men and women back at the factory, back in Brackley and Brixworth – they are the unsung heroes,” Hamilton said.

    “They’re the ones that have really grafted away and never given up, just continued to push and elevate and innovate.

    “People watch it and might maybe think we’re used to this. But it just always feels like the first with this team, and I think that’s because of the spirit.

    “So I’m forever, forever grateful to everyone to be a part of it, to be a part of breaking a record like this. No team has done this before.

    “It is unbelievable. It’s unbelievable and to come back year-on-year, and whilst we have great performance, it is not easy to continue to deliver weekend in, weekend out.

    “Seven time champs – that is something I am going to be able to tell my grandchildren one day.”

    Hamilton paid tribute to Mercedes’ “great leader” Toto Wolff, who got to celebrate his seventh constructors’ championship as team principal.

    “We have a group that is just amazing together,” Wolff said. “We’ve stayed together we’ve tried to push the benchmark to new levels, and we’ve achieved that.

    “It’s just a super proud moment with these guys and being part of it.

    “As long as we stay motivated and energised and you can see that within these guys [Hamilton and Bottas], then I think we can push it further more.

    “There will be competition, no doubt, next year with Max [Verstappen] and Honda trying to do a really good job towards the end of the season. We are looking forward to a new challenge.”

  4. A chance to score his first championship point was thrown away as George Russell lost control of his car under the safety car. The Williams driver felt gutted over a “stupid mistake”. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Williams Formula 1 driver George Russell says crashing out of the Emilia Romagna GP while running behind the safety car was “gutting.”

    Russell had been running on the fringes of the points when the safety car was dispatched after Max Verstappen spun out of second place when his Red Bull suffered a rear tyre failure.

    Russell was the first car in the queue behind the safety car and was trying to warm his tyres when he lost control and slammed hard into the wall.

    Before alighting from the car he apologised to the team, and soon after returning to the paddock he posted a Twitter message, saying: “I don’t know what to say. No excuses. I’m so sorry guys.”

    The retirement means that Russell has now made 34 starts in F1 without making the top 10.

    “I don’t know,” he said when asked what he had to score a point. “I mean, not make stupid mistakes like I did today.

    “It was a race that I was pushing as hard as I could from lap one until then, the most aggressive I’ve ever been.

    “And I wanted to continue that under the safety car because I knew that with the guys behind me on the hot new tyres, myself on the old tyres, if I had any chance of getting a point, I needed to be super aggressive.

    “And obviously, as soon as I lost the car, I was already in the wall, and it’s just gutting. Obviously really sorry to all the guys.”

    Asked if there were any positives from the say he said he was pleased with his aggressive performance.

    “I mean, the positives are we were in that position on merit,” he said. “I managed to jump [Esteban] Ocon, and pulled away from him. In the early phase of the race, I was at the same pace as McLarens ahead of me. The car was alive this weekend, and it was really, really fast.

    “It will come I think we’re understanding it better and better, week-in, week-out. My first laps have been poor, and I made probably quite a bold, aggressive move on Sebastian [Vettel] in the first corner, which is something we’ve been wanting to work on.

    “And like I say, I feel like maybe sometimes I’ve been a bit too conservative in the races. And I definitely found the limit today.”

  5. AlphaTauri Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat said he had to do some “brave racing” on his way to fourth place in the Emilia Romagna GP.

    The Russian saved the day for the local outfit after his team mate Pierre Gasly retired with an early engine problem while running in fifth place.

    Kvyat started from eighth on the grid and was in seventh place when the race resumed after a late safety car period.

    Helped by his fresh tyres he jumped Sergio Perez, Alex Albon and Charles Leclerc to finish the first lap after the restart in fourth place, but despite pushing hard he was not able to do one better and steal third place from Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo.

    It was his best result since he finished third in a high attrition race in Germany last year.

    “It was good race, it was a good, strong result,” he said. “And yeah of course now I’m talking and thinking more about the podium, because it was so close.

    “Really, really difficult on the restart, but I managed to do some good moves. Daniel just warmed up his tyres. And yeah, it was very hard. Very close until the end, but I had to do some brave racing today. I had some fun today.”

    Regarding his charge following the safety car period – that saw a particularly bold move on Leclerc – he explained: “I said, ‘I go for it now,’ after the restart. I felt the confidence, I like the old school tracks. Maybe I’m just an old school guy in the wrong time!”

    Kvyat stressed that the team’s form has been improving in recent weeks.

    “I believe always more and more in our potential,” he said. “As a team, and me as a driver. And I keep feeling better in the car through the year.

    “There are some things that we understand – I mean, my side of the garage understands now – I wish we understood them a bit more in the beginning, how to make the car work a bit better, but we really got there, since Spa it was a good step.

    “Pierre has been very fast this year. But since Spa, if you look at it, we were really close and very competitive. And it was a good race today. It’s very important for me to get this weight out, like a very strong result, very strong race, and I’m happy.”

    AlphaTauri currently lies in seventh place in the championship, just 14 points behind Ferrari, and beating Italy’s other team remains a target.

    “We recovered only a couple of points today. Better than nothing ,” Kvyat added. “Of course, I think it’s going to be a very close battle until the end. It seems like our pace is similar.

    “Sometimes in qualifying they look impressive, but in the race we catch up. We’ll try to do our best to beat them in the championship. Of course that’s a target, but we know it’s not easy, and we cannot think about it too much. We just need to focus on our job.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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