Hamilton is victorious but Grosjean escapes from massive crash

The 2020 world champion Lewis Hamilton won the Bahrain Grand Prix, beating Max Verstappen, but this race will be remembered for the shocking, fiery crash for Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

The race was also by disrupted by two safety cars in incidents that eliminated both Racing Point drivers, but the main highlight was the horrifying incident on the opening lap that involved Grosjean escaping his burning car after piercing one of the track’s barriers after making contact with Daniil Kvyat.

At the initial start, Valtteri Bottas made a slow getaway from second when the five red lights went out, while Hamilton leapt clear in the lead, and the Mercedes driver was quickly passed by Verstappen and Sergio Perez on the run to Turn 1.

Bottas was then swamped by Alex Albon and Daniel Ricciardo at the opening right-hander and as he lost momentum entering Turn 2, it appeared to set off a chain of reactions in the pack behind.

Lando Norris had to check up, which brought him into a line with Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, which pinched at Turn 2 and caused Norris to slow again and left him with front wing damage.

The following Ferrari pair and Lance Stroll had to go wide in avoidance as they came up to the rear of Norris’s car, which sent the Racing Point wide, and the pack bunched up again going through the Turn 3 right kink, which slowed the group at the back of the midfield again.

The drivers at the rear of the field – including Grosjean – therefore quickly gained on those ahead, and in reaction the Haas driver moved right across the track, striking Kvyat’s AlphaTauri and sending him straight into the barriers.

His car was torn in half by the impact, with its fuel igniting and the front half of the car piercing through the barrier.

Grosjean was able to extricate himself from the burning wreckage, jumping back to the track-side of the fence and into the arms of FIA medical delegate Dr. Ian Roberts, who had arrived on the seen with medical driver Alan van der Merwe a few seconds after the impact.

The race was red-flagged after 36 seconds, just as the leaders were exiting Turn 6, and suspended for an hour and 20 minutes while Grosjean was taken first to the circuit’s medical centre by ambulance and then airlifted to the BDF Military Hospital for further evaluation.

His Haas team initially explained he had suffered minor burns on his hands and ankles and then gave a further update that he had suffered suspected broken ribs.

The pierced barrier was cut away and replaced with a series of concrete blocks, installed under the supervision of FIA race director Michael Masi.

The cars restarted on lap three of 57, with Hamilton on pole again ahead of Verstappen and Perez, with Bottas back up to fourth as the order was taken by the positions at the second safety car line during the initial start.

Hamilton again made a simple getaway from pole, with Bottas briefly able to challenge Perez and Verstappen ahead of him, but it was the Red Bull that had to defend against the Racing Point at the first corner.

Perez was edged out on the outside line, which put him back under pressure from Bottas as the cars raced through the rest of the first sector.

But the race was suspended again when Stroll and Kvyat came together at the Turn 8 hairpin, with the AlphaTauri on the inside and flipping Stroll’s car when it hit the Racing Point’s right rear, with Vettel forced to slam on the brakes and Kevin Magnussen breaking his front wing against the suddenly slowing Ferrari.

As Stroll was stranded upside down, the safety car was called into action as he climbed out, during which Mercedes had to pit Bottas when he picked up a puncture, which dropped him from fourth to P16 as he rejoined on the hard tyres.

The race restarted on lap nine, with Hamilton grabbing a 0.7 seconds lead over the line by nailing the final corner better than Verstappen as they moved back to racing speed.

The top two quickly romped clear of Perez, the only two drivers able to lap in the one minute, 34 seconds, but after just a few laps at that pace Verstappen began to slip back.

By lap 14, Hamilton had edged to a 2.0s lead, briefly dipping into the one minute, 33 seconds as Verstappen circulated in the one minute, 35 seconds, and he continued to edge away across the rest of the first stint.

Hamilton pitted at the end of lap 19 to take new mediums with a lead of 4.6 seconds, with Verstappen and Perez coming in at the end of the following tour – where they opted for hard tyres, of which they had both come into the race with two sets to Hamilton’s one.

When the stops shook out Hamilton led by 5.5 seconds at the start of lap 22, but Verstappen told Red Bull he would go “full send” and immediately brought the gap down by a second with a then fastest lap.

Then pair then exchanged faster times in the high one minute, 33 seconds and one minute, 34 seconds before Hamilton was able to re-establish his five second advantage by the end of the race’s first 30 laps.

Red Bull went aggressive to pit Verstappen for a second time at the end of lap 34, switching him back to the mediums, but the stop ran long by three seconds.

Nevertheless, after Mercedes had pitted Hamilton for hards at the end of the following lap, Verstappen was just 3.7s behind after a rapid out lap and first flying effort, as Perez pitted from in between the two leaders.

In a near copy of the second stint, Verstappen was initially able to exchange quicker laps with Hamilton before starting to slip back – hitting the one minute, 34 seconds again after initially running in the one minute, 32 seconds after his second stop on lap 46.

Hamilton had edged his lead up to five seconds again by that tour, at the end of which Red Bull brought Verstappen in for a third stop to take another set of mediums as he had enough time in hand over Perez.

Verstappen quickly set the race’s fastest lap at one minute, 32.014 seconds as Mercedes opted to leave Hamilton out with a near 30 seconds advantage.

That was whittled down to just over 20 seconds, although it appeared as if Hamilton had everything under control, when Perez’s engine suddenly began to let go as he ran down the main straight with four laps to go.

The Racing Point driver slow as his power unit eventually caught fire, after which he stopped on the back straight and the safety car was called out again.

Mercedes considered pitting Hamilton again but opted not too as the gap to Verstappen was too marginal, judging that the race would finish under the safety car, which it eventually did.

Albon joined Hamilton and Verstappen on the podium as a result of Perez’s problem, with Norris and Carlos Sainz moving up to fourth and fifth for McLaren – the latter gaining after making the soft tyres work unexpectedly well during the opening stint.

Gasly was the only driver to complete a one-stopper (Antonio Giovinazzi stopped for a second time under the final safety car and fell to P16 as a result) as he came home fifth despite being overtaken by the two McLarens later on and looking as if he would be vulnerable to Ricciardo behind without the safety car.

Bottas recovered to eighth after initially making little progress after his puncture, making three stops on his way back up the order, and then getting a suspected second puncture during the second safety car, which he was able to nurse to the finish.

Ocon finished ninth having been involved in a long and costly fight with Ricciardo during the middle phase of the race, with Leclerc rounding out the top ten.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with this race victory but luckiest of all is Romain Grosjean. That crash on the opening lap was horrifying. To see his racing car split in half and so much fire was shocking. Relieved that the halo and modern safety standards helped and saved his life.

Bahrain Grand Prix, race results:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2:59:47.515
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1.254
3 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 8.005
4 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 11.337
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 11.787
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 11.942
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 19.368
8 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 19.680
9 Esteban Ocon Renault 22.803
10 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1 lap
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1 lap
12 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
13 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1 lap
14 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1 lap
18 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes –
– Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes –
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari –

Hamilton grabs Bahrain Grand Prix pole

Newly crowned world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved another pole position, this time at Bahrain beating his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

After Verstappen had led the final practice session, Hamilton hit back to top all three segments of qualifying, leading the way on the first runs in Q3 with a lap time of one minute, 27.677 seconds.

The 2020 world champion then found time in all three sectors on his second run on the soft Pirelli compound, ending up with a new track record of one minute, 27.264 seconds.

Verstappen had been in second position after the first runs in Q3, after which he complained he did not have the rear grip he had enjoyed earlier, with Bottas in third place.

But the Mercedes driver was able to find enough time on his final run to jump ahead, as Verstappen lost time in the final sector and wound up 0.414 seconds behind Hamilton.

Alex Albon took fourth position ahead of Sergio Perez, who demoted Daniel Ricciardo one spot on his final effort.

Esteban Ocon will start behind his Renault teammate in seventh, with Pierre Gasly eighth for AlphaTauri.

Lando Norris and Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top ten in Q3.

Q2 was disrupted by a red flag after Carlos Sainz spun at the end of the main straight, when the rear wheels on his McLaren suddenly locked as he approached Turn 1.

Sainz came to rest at the edge of the track and could not get going again, which forced the FIA to stop the session so his car could be recovered.

This stopped a big group of cars, led by Ricciardo, from setting the opening timed laps of the middle segment and suspended the session for over five minutes.

When it did get going again, the Q2 pack was split between a few early runners attempting to get through on the mediums (all the drivers bar the AlphaTauri pair and George Russell, who stayed in the pits at the start of Q2, had initially headed out on that rubber) and others waiting until the final moments.

Hamilton led the way ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, and the leading trio were followed by Alex Albon, Lando Norris and Sergio Perez, who were all a big chunk behind the P1 benchmark and under pressure to switch to the soft tyres, which few drivers will want to use in the race give it is degrading by 0.5 seconds per lap after just one tour.

Albon and Norris did switched to the red-walled rubber, by they and Perez were only beaten by Ricciardo during the final laps in Q2, and so all the top ten runners will start on the medium tyres.

Ferrari pair Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc had also tried to get through on the mediums but were knocked out in P11 and P12 – what a difference a year makes after locking out the front row – with Lance Stroll P13 and blaming a “miscommunication” for his early exit.

As they were suddenly not under pressure from drivers behind go faster on the mediums, Albon and Norris were able to abandon their runs on the softs, which Russell used on his late solo flying lap to take P14, which means he will start ahead of Sainz.

In Q1, Russell escaped the opening segment for the ninth time in 2020, while Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen were shuffled down as drivers running behind them on the track right at the end of the opening segment improved.

Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, who said he “pushed too hard” trying to “enjoy it”, were knocked out in P18 and P19, with Nicholas Latifi bringing up the rear of the field.

All five of the drivers eliminated in Q1 set their best times on the final laps, but could do enough to join Russell in Q2.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with another fine qualifying performance with pole position. After sealing the championship, his commitment continues with a brilliant drive to be the fastest.

Bahrain Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.264
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:27.553
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:27.678
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:28.274
5 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:28.322
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:28.417
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:28.419
8 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:28.448
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:28.542
10 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:28.618
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29.149
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:29.165
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:29.557
14 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:31.218
15 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault –
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:29.491
17 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:29.810
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:30.111
19 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:30.138
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:30.182

Hamilton wins wild Turkish Grand Prix and takes seventh world championship

Lewis Hamilton won his seventh world championship following a wet and wild Turkish Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver has now equalled Michael Schumacher’s achievement with seven titles.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez finished in a solid second place while Sebastian Vettel drove a superb race in the Ferrari to score a podium spot with third.

The majority of the race was led by polesitter Lance Stroll, who lost out by taking a second pit stop for intermediates, a strategy Charles Leclerc used to charge to third in the closing stages, which he lost to teammate Sebastian Vettel after making a last-gaps move on Perez, while Mercedes opted to leave Hamilton on a one-stopper after he had charged up the leading Racing Point cars.

The race result gives Hamilton the 2020 championship and he now level with Michael Schumacher’s record title record.

At the start, all the cars made slow, slippery starts, but it was the Red Bull cars that could not carry enough momentum off the line, which meant Max Verstappen and Alex Albon were quickly swamped from second and fourth by the Renault and Mercedes cars.

Esteban Ocon followed Perez into Turn 1 in third position as Stroll led away from pole, but he was tapped into a spin by Daniel Ricciardo, who had turned out of the left-hander to avoid Hamilton, with the Mercedes suddenly appearing on his inside.

Ocon spun around and Bottas was left with nowhere to go, spinning in sync with the Renault as he avoided contact – although the Mercedes driver later tagged Ocon into a second spin, giving him a left-rear puncture, as he lost the rear of his W11 at the Turn 9 left-hander later on lap one.

Stroll and Perez surged clear, with Hamilton up to third from sixth on the grid, but he slid off at Turn 9 and was jumped by the fast-starting Vettel, who was up from P11 on the grid, and the recovering Verstappen.

At the end of lap one of 58, Stroll had a lead of 3.6 seconds over Perez, which he set about extending to over five seconds with a series of fastest laps over the next few tours before the Mexican driver started to ease back towards his teammate.

After Leclerc had proved the time was right to take intermediates with a stop from P14 on lap six, the leaders started to come in two laps later, led by Vettel and Hamilton from third and fifth – by which time Hamilton had become the fastest driver on track.

When they came in on lap eight, Verstappen was unleashed from behind Vettel and he insisted on staying out on his full wets until lap 11, two laps after Stroll had come in and easily retained the net lead.

Perez pitted the lap ahead of Verstappen, but had a slow right front change, and when the Red Bull finally came in – with Albon waiting until lap as the last of the leaders to change tyres – Verstappen just manage to jump ahead of Vettel, fractionally behind Perez.

Stroll’s lead once the stops had shaken out was up to 10.7 seconds, with the race then neutralised on lap 13 by the virtual safety car as Antonio Giovinazzi – who had crashed on the way to the grid ahead of the race, as did George Russell – pulled over to retire on the straight down the hill from Turn 8.

When the race resumed two laps later, the Red Bull drivers were able to fire their tyres up best of the leaders, with Verstappen harrying Perez and Albon easily passing Vettel at Turn 7 on lap 16 after Hamilton had locked up and slid off at Turn 12 – the track’s main passing point – the lap the VSC ended.

Verstappen had a chance to pass Perez when the Racing Point slipped out of Turn 9 on lap 18, after he had begun to make significant in-roads into Stroll’s lead, but after the Red Bull looked to Perez’s inside of the Turn 11 kink he shot out on the kerbs on the outside and lost the rear, spinning off at high speed and falling behind Albon, Vettel and Hamilton.

As he had flat-spotted his tyres, Verstappen had to pit for another set of inters, falling to eighth with Albon then homing in on Perez as Hamilton struggled to stay with Vettel as the teams started to think about switching to dry tyres.

By lap 24, Perez had whittled Stroll’s lead down to the four-second mark, with Albon following closely behind before then fading back over the next five laps as he struggled with the inters starting to wear on the drying track.

The tread falling away on the green-walled tyres seemed to favour Vettel and Hamilton, as they started to home in on the leaders as the race approached the halfway stage, when Leclerc again triggered another round of stops as he pitted for more inters from ninth.

His pace encouraged Vettel to pit as well, with Albon then gifting Hamilton third with spin at Turn 4 on lap 34, after which he immediately pitted.

Up front, Perez was suddenly closing right up to Stroll, getting with one second – DRS had been activated on lap 30 – as Racing Point considered whether to take the fresh inters or leave its drivers out.

But with Hamilton suddenly looming and the Ferraris flying on their new tyres, Stroll pitted on lap 36, coming out fourth, behind Verstappen – a factor again thanks to his early second stop.

Hamilton instructed Mercedes to leave him out and by the start of lap 37 he was within one second of Perez’s car, then making a simple DRS pass on the long run to Turn 12 to take P1, which he had in the opening laps been nearly a pitstop behind.

The champion quickly dropped Perez, who also did not pit for a second set of inters, building a gap on nearly 20 seconds over the next ten laps.

In the pack behind, Vettel, now being followed by the charging Leclerc, attacked a struggling Stroll into Turn 12 on lap 39, and when the former leader fought back at the left-hander, he slid deep and was passed by both Ferraris – then demoted at the same spot by Albon and Carlos Sainz on the next two laps.

Leclerc was on the move again on lap 40 when he passed Vettel with DRS on the run to Turn 12 and he quickly gapped his teammate over the next few tours, the period where Sainz passed Albon for fifth and the gaps between the leaders spread out significantly.

Despite the threat of rain returning in the closing stages, Hamilton, after Mercedes considered pitting him for a safety stop given his gap over Perez, cruised home to win by a comfortable 31.6 seconds.

Leclerc had slipped off the road at Turn 4 as the race entered its final stages, but he had enough in hand over Vettel to stay third, where he seemed destined to finish before the gap to Perez closed rapidly over the final laps.

Perez went deep at Turn 9 on the last lap and that gave Leclerc the chance to attack for second coming into Turn 12, but the Ferrari went too deep, which allowed Perez to stay in front and the suddenly close Vettel to nip ahead into third.

Leclerc therefore finished fourth ahead of Sainz, with Verstappen recovering to sixth ahead of Albon despite having another spin as they lapped the spun Kimi Raikkonen off the road at Turn 4.

Lando Norris demoted Stroll to ninth when the former leader slipped off the road at Turn 1 late on, with Daniel Ricciardo, who also spun while battling Norris a few laps before, rounding out the top ten.

Bottas ended up a lapped P14, spinning a further three times – five in total – as he struggled in a race where he had to beat Hamilton by eight points to keep the title fight alive.

He came in to take new inters in the closing stages after his teammate had put him a lap down, but his pace did not match Hamilton’s until the very last lap.

Kevin Magnussen retired in the pits late on, having rejoined the race after being released from his second stop with a suspected loose wheel – which will be investigated after the race.

Romain Grosjean and Nicholas Latifi also retired in the pits a few laps after they had clashed and spun off.

Verstappen also faces a post-race investigation for possibly crossing the pit exit line after his second stop.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in becoming this season’s world champion and equalling Michael Schumacher’s achievement. This is a historical moment in the sport by becoming a legend. Fantastic to see Sebastian Vettel back on the podium as it has been a while since he last finished in the top 3. It was so nice to see the champions giving respect after a chaotic race. Do feel sorry for Lance Stroll. After leading the most laps in the Racing Point, he had to settle for P9. His teammate Sergio Perez at least gave the team a solid amount of racing points with P2.

Turkish Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:42:19.313
2 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 31.633
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 31.960
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 33.858
5 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 34.363
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 44.873
7 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 46.484
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:01.259
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:12.353
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:35.460
11 Esteban Ocon Renault 1 lap
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1 lap
13 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1 lap
14 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1 lap
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
16 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari –
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari –
– Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes –
– Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari –

Stroll takes first ever pole position in dramatic qualifying session

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll scored his first ever pole position by beating Max Verstappen to take a shock maiden pole in a wet and dramatic qualifying session for Formula 1’s 2020 Turkish Grand Prix.

The session was heavily disrupted, with Q1 suspended for nearly 45-minutes after the rain intensified following the opening ten minutes, and when it did get going again it was quickly red-flagged for a second time when Romain Grosjean became stuck in the Turn 1 gravel after spinning off in his Haas.

Verstappen largely led the way throughout the qualifying session, with Esteban Ocon spending the long Q1 delay at the head of the times after impressing during the initial running, be he appeared to be caught out by a Q3 switch from wets to intermediates.

The Red Bull Racing driver’s first Q3 lap was a one minute, 52.326 seconds, which was over two seconds slower than Verstappen had gone to top Q2, but he looked to be going massively faster with two opening purple sectors on his next lap.

But Verstappen abandoned that run after Sergio Perez had shot to P1 with a one minute, 52.037 seconds using the green-walled inters, and so Verstappen came in to take that tyre.

But he although Verstappen found time at the very end of Q3, he was not in command as he had been before, with Perez and Racing Point suddenly looking to be the pole favourites.

But Perez, who had spun on his next lap after seizing P1, was eventually shuffled down to third after Stroll, who had headed out on the wets early on in Q3 in a different approach to his teammate, put in a one minute, 47.765 seconds to rise to the front.

Verstappen had to find a way past Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo before he final run, where he climbed from third to second, but wound up 0.29 seconds behind Stroll.

Alex Albon took fourth for Red Bull ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who stayed on the wet tyres throughout Q3.

Lewis Hamilton was the lead Mercedes in sixth, having trailed behind teammate Valtteri Bottas throughout the sessions leading up to Q3 and during their initial laps on the wets in the last session.

But after Mercedes called its drivers to take the inters, Hamilton was able to improve more, as Bottas set a personal best on his final run but still ended up down in ninth.

Ocon and Raikkonen ended up ahead of the Mercedes, with Antonio Giovinazzi rounding out the top ten.

Q2 ran uninterrupted throughout, with the drivers finding chunks of time with each lap they set.

Verstappen led the way, nearly two seconds clear of anyone else, while the Alfa Romeo cars reached Q3 for the first time in 2020.

All of the eliminated runners set personal bests on their final laps, but they could not improve by enough, headed by Lando Norris in P11.

Norris and teammate Carlos Sainz had run with the inters at the start of Q2, but came in for wets ahead of their final runs.

This took them inside the two-minute mark, but they were still big chunk behind the top 10 cutoff, as Norris finished nearly 0.7 seconds slower than Ricciardo.

Sebastian Vettel split the McLarens in P12, with Charles Leclerc also out in Q2 in P14, despite his strong pace in the dry practice sessions on Friday, and his P2 in FP3.

Pierre Gasly was knocked out in P15 despite a late visit to the AlphaTauri pits to take fresh wets, while Sainz faces a post-qualifying investigation after possibly impeding Perez during one run in Q2.

In Q1, Kevin Magnussen was eliminated in P16 as he was caught behind several incidents following the second red flag, one of which was Daniil Kvyat spinning at Turn 3, which cost him the chance to escape the opening segment as he complained about poor visibility.

Kvyat therefore ended up out in P17, ahead of George Russell, who also lost time running behind the incidents after the second restart – the second of which was Nicholas Latifi spinning off exiting the middle apex of Turn 8 and beaching his Williams in the gravel on the outside.

Russell will start last after his replacement power unit parts will drop him to the rear of field, which will boost Grosjean and Latifi a spot each from P19 and P20.

Verstappen and Albon headed Q1 with the only times under two minutes – as they lapped at the head of the field after the second restart, ahead of the two incidents taking place in their wake.

All laps completed by drivers passing the yellows flying for Kvyat’s spin and Latifi’s beached Williams will be investigated after the session, which could yet change the order for the grid.

The was also a strange incident at the start of Q2, where the session was allowed to get underway despite Latifi’s Williams still being craned away.

So such an exciting and dramatic qualifying session. Congratulations to Lance Stroll in scoring his first pole position in Formula 1 and to Racing Point with a top three thanks to Sergio Perez. As for Max Verstappen, he was unlucky to miss out on P1 but his speed was really impressive following the practice sessions and the two segments in qualifying.

Turkish Grand Prix qualifying positions:
1 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:47.765
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:48.055
3 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:49.321
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:50.448
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:51.595
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:52.560
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:52.622
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:52.745
9 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:53.258
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:57.226
11 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:54.945
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:55.169
13 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:55.410
14 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:56.696
15 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:58.556
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 2:08.007
17 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 2:09.070
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 2:12.909
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 2:21.611
20 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 2:10.017

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

Bottas takes pole position at Imola

Valtteri Bottas rises to the challenge to his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position for Formula 1’s 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, with Max Verstappen third despite needing a rapid Q2 spark plug change.

Both Mercedes drivers and Verstappen will start the race on the medium Pirelli, giving them an expected additional strategy advantage over the rest of the top ten runners in the race.

Hamilton had the advantage after the opening runs in Q3 had been completed on the soft compound, with his one minute, 13.781 seconds putting him 0.031 seconds clear of Bottas despite the defending world champion dipping his rear wheels into the gravel exiting the final corner.

But Bottas responded on the second Q3 run, beating Hamilton to the fastest time in the first sector by just over 0.1 seconds, and then holding on for the rest of the lap to claim pole by just a tiny margin on 0.097 seconds.

Verstappen took up third position but was 0.567 seconds, with his former Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly taking an impressive fourth for AlphaTauri.

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for Renault, with Alex Albon sixth after a complex session containing a spin and a track limits violation – something that applied to several drivers down the grid.

Charles Leclerc was seventh for Ferrari’s third home race of the revised 2020 season, ahead of Daniil Kvyat and the McLaren duo Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, who rounded out the top ten in Q3.

In Q2, Sergio Perez was eliminated when Albon leapt up the order with his final lap in the middle segment, after the Red Bull driver had had to switch from the mediums to softs following a spin at the exit of the Variante Alta chicane.

Esteban Ocon took P12, ahead of Williams George Russell, who was P11 after he’d completed his final lap before being shuffled back.

But Russell will start ahead of Sebastian Vettel after the Ferrari driver lost his best time in Q2, his last flying effort, for running too wide out of Variante Alta – after he too had attempt to get through on the mediums in the early Q2 running.

Lance Stroll also lost a time for running wide at Variante Alta, but it was not his personal best in Q2 as he nevertheless ended up P15 and out.

In Q1, Bottas and Albon only jumped up the order on their final runs after losing earlier times for exceeding track limits at the exit of the Piratella corner at the top of the hill in the second sector, while Hamilton lost what would have been the segments best time for the same infraction late-on.

The Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were the highest placed of the drivers eliminated after the opening session, with the latter running wide into the gravel trap out of the second Rivazza turn – the track’s last corner.

Then came Kimi Raikkonen, who lost a lap time good enough to get through, which would have eliminated Stroll in Q1, for running wide out of exiting Variante Alta – although the Finn insisted over his team radio his “left wheels were on the kerbs”.

Nicholas Latifi and home hero Antonio Giovinazzi brought up the rear of the field, with the latter setting a personal best on his final run, which was still not enough to lift him out of last place.

So well done Valtteri Bottas in taking pole position from Lewis Hamilton. Hopefully he has the confidence to take victory and fight his Mercedes teammate to the championship.

Qualifying positions, Imola:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:13.609
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.706
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:14.176
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:14.502
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:14.520
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:14.572
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:14.616
8 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:14.696
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:14.814
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:14.911
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:15.061
12 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:15.201
13 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:15.323
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:15.385
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:15.494
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:15.918
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:15.939
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’15.953
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:15.987
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:16.208

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