Hamilton wins a wild Mugello race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hamilton takes pole position at Tuscan Grand Prix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kevin Magnussen qualified last for Haas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gasly wins for AlphaTauri at Monza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hamilton sets new track record to pole position at Monza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ocon, Raikkonen and Latifi will be investigated after qualifying.

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

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

Hamilton wins Belgian Grand Prix from Bottas

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his 89th Formula 1 victory at Spa-Francorchamps, finishing ahead of Valtteri Bottas while a scary crash for Antonio Giovinazzi also wiping out George Russell.

The Belgian Grand Prix was processional at the front, with Max Verstappen taking another third for Red Bull Racing, while the drivers trying a double stack pitstop strategy during the safety car providing most of the action in the pack.

At the start, Bottas made a fractionally better getaway compared to the his teammate but was obliged to go to the outside and tuck in closely behind Hamilton as they exited La Source hairpin.

Bottas ran very close to the leader but lost momentum going through Eau Rouge and was suddenly under more pressure from Verstappen in third.

But a helpful tow from Hamilton’s car meant Bottas was able to stay in front by the time they arrived at Les Combes, where Verstappen suddenly found himself under attack by the fast-starting Daniel Ricciardo.

They ran side-by-side through the second part of Les Combes and the next right – with Ricciardo and then Verstappen going right off the track at those two respective points – but the Red Bull was able to stay ahead, while the Mercedes drivers ran clear in the lead.

Hamilton led by 1.4 seconds by the end of the first lap and the gap to Bottas fluctuated slightly across the next few laps.

The Mercedes duo and Verstappen were the only drivers able to run in the one minute, 50 seconds, before the two Black Arrows dipped into the one minute, 49 seconds and the gap to the Red Bull quickly grew to over five seconds behind the leader.

Hamilton’s lead stood at 1.8 seconds on lap 10 of 44 when the race was suddenly paused following a huge accident for Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, who lost the rear of his car all by himself as he exited Turn 14 and smashed into the barriers on the outside.

The following Kimi Raikkonen was able to get by unscathed but a wheel that had been ripped off the Alfa Romeo bounced back onto the track and left George Russell with nowhere to go.

The Williams driver struck the wheel and his suspension was broken, with his FW43 then going into the barriers on the left of the track, with the safety car deployed as the wreckage was cleared and a large amount of debris was swept clear of the track.

Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen pitted at the first available opportunity on lap, with Mercedes double-stacking its cars to fit the hards.

This nearly let Verstappen get in front of Bottas as he accelerated away having taken on his own hards, but Valtteri stayed ahead and the order remained as it was before the safety car was called.

On lap 15 the race restarted, with Hamilton already pulling clear of Bottas after jumping away approaching the Bus Stop chicane on the previous lap.

That meant Bottas had no chance to attack for the lead and the race settled down again at the front, with Hamilton quickly re-establishing his lead as again the top three were able to lap at pace the rest could not match in the one minute, 48 seconds.

But the difference was that Verstappen appeared to be much happier on the hards than he had been on the mediums and he was able to stick closer to Bottas as Hamilton consistently edged further away in first.

Verstappen was able to track Bottas at 1.4 seconds adrift for several laps until both Mercedes turned the screw approaching the end of the race’s second third and Bottas ran clear.

Mercedes told Bottas to give it “everything you’ve got” as he and Hamilton set a series of times in the one minute, 47 seconds, but they did not come into the pits.

This meant they ran to the flag on a single stop and while it initially looked like a calm run to the flag for the leaders, they both had minor problems before the finish.

First Bottas reported a numbness in his left leg from the braking force, and then Hamilton became concerned about the state of his right-front tyre – with both Mercedes at separate points in the closing laps locking up at the Bus Stop and cutting the second part of the chicane.

But these issues came to nothing and Hamilton continued to pull away, finishing with a winning margin of 8.4 seconds at the flag, with Verstappen – who struggled with a vibration on his hards as the second stint wore on – seven seconds behind Bottas in third.

Ricciardo took fourth for Red Bull – making a key passes on Pierre Gasly, who did not stop during the safety car to leap up the order – setting a string of rapid laps at the end and clinching the fastest lap on the final tour.

Esteban Ocon stole fifth from Alex Albon on the final lap with a blast of DRS on the outside coming into Les Combes as the Red Bull driver tried to make a soft-medium strategy work.

Albon so nearly held on to fifth but did stay ahead of Lando Norris’s McLaren to finish sixth.

Gasly put in a series of passes – mainly with DRS on the Kemmel Straight – as he rose from the rear of the field following his green flag stop after he had taken the restart in fourth.

He battled back by Sergio Perez, who also did not stop under the safety car and had to make a long stint work on the softs as a result, eventually taking eighth.

Lance Stroll was ninth ahead of Perez, with Daniil Kvyat P11 in the second AlphaTauri.

The Ferrari drivers finished in a disappointing P13 and P14 – beaten by Kimi Raikkonen who had started in P16 – as both were exposed by the car’s lack of straight line speed.

Vettel finished ahead after another set of radio exchanges with his engineer, while Leclerc made two stops – with the second featuring a precautionary top up of pneumatic pressure – on his way to P14 after he had gained several positions at the start.

Carlos Sainz did not start after his McLaren developed a power unit problem that led to a broken exhaust on the laps to the grid.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in winning the Belgian Grand Prix. His 89th Formula 1 victory and just two away in equalling Michael Schumacher’s achievement. This win also extend his championship lead. Monza is next. Mercedes looking strong thanks to a superior car and engine. Rival Ferrari are going to struggle at home.

Belgian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:24:08.761
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 8.448
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 15.455
4 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 18.877
5 Esteban Ocon Renault 40.650
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 42.712
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 43.774
8 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 47.371
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 52.603
10 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 53.179
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:10.200
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:11.504
13 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:12.894
14 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:14.920
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:16.793
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:17.795
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:25.540
– Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari DNF
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault DNS

Hamilton takes Belgian Grand Prix pole and dedicates to Chadwick Boseman

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his sixth Belgian Grand Prix pole position and dedicated this qualifying result in honour of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, who passed away with cancer.

Hamilton set a new track record around Spa-Francorchamps to score pole position and he finishes ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and rival Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

Both Mercedes and Verstappen will start the race on the medium Pirelli compound as they were able to get through Q2 on what is a better race tyre than the red-walled softs the rest of the top ten will start on in a dry race.

Ferrari managed to avoid losing a driver in Q1, but Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were both eliminated in the next segment, one year on from Leclerc taking pole position at Spa.

When it came to Q3, Hamilton led the way after the opening runs with a one minute, 41.451 seconds – a new track record for the time, while Bottas had time to make up after locking up and running wide on the large kerb at the exit of La Source.

But while Bottas was able to improve early on the final runs on the soft tyres in Q3, Hamilton went even faster – setting personal best times in the first and third sector, and going fastest of anyone in the middle part of the track, where Mercedes has been dominant all weekend.

The world champion’s last lap looked in control all the way around as he blasted to a one minute, 41.252 seconds to improve the best time.

Running behind, Bottas lost time all around his final lap and wound up 0.511 seconds adrift.

Verstappen was left frustrated to finish just 0.15 second behind Bottas, complaining that he ran out of battery energy at the end of his final lap.

Daniel Ricciardo will start fourth after Verstappen’s last-gasp lap pushed him down one spot, with the Renault driver abandoning his final effort.

Alex Albon is fifth ahead of Esteban Ocon, who found enough time with the session’s final flying lap to deny Carlos Sainz Jr P6 for McLaren.

Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll took eighth and ninth after only completing one run in Q3, while Lando Norris rounded out the top ten after setting a personal best on his last run but not finding enough time to move up the order.

Personal best times were not enough to save Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly from elimination in Q2, as the Racing Point drivers gained significantly from their first attempts to get through the middle segment on the medium tyres.

Stroll and Perez jumping up the order from P11 and P12 after the first runs ultimately did for the AlphaTauri’s despite their own improvements, which meant they ended up in the positions just outside the top ten.

Both Ferrari’s were ultimately knocked out in Q2 for the first time in 2020, with Leclerc heading Vettel in P13.

This was a shocking qualifying result and it underlines the poor performance in that SF1000.

George Russell again got his Williams into Q2, but abandoned his first run, with his second good enough only for P15 after the Ferrari’s found time on their second efforts.

In Q1, Vettel was under pressure to improve after he sat P19 after the first runs had been completed, but the danger of both works Ferrari’s being knocked out in the opening segment remained.

A battling warm-up lap for the drivers still needing to improve to progress left both Vettel and Leclerc having to run without a tow at the head of a pack of cars.

But they still managed to improve enough to get through to Q2, with Vettel jumping up six spots, although Leclerc had a nervous wait as he was shuffled down to P15, complaining later about the lack of a tow.

The top four drivers knocked out in Q1 all set personal bests, but Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean, Antonio Giovinazzi and Nicholas Latifi could not match the delighted and surprised Russell in splitting the Ferraris.

They will start P15-P19, with Kevin Magnussen last in the second Haas after his final run was ruined by a long trip through the Stavelot gravel trap, where he nearly ran into the wall to his left as he struggled to slow his car.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with this fine pole position. Nice tribute by the six-time champion to dedicated this P1 in honour of Chadwick Boseman. Wakanda Forever!

Qualifying positions, Belgian Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:41.252
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:41.763
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:41.778
4 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:42.061
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:42.264
6 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:42.396
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:42.438
8 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:42.532
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:42.603
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:42.657
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:42.730
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:42.745
13 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:42.996
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:43.261
15 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:43.468
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:43.743
17 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:43.838
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:43.950
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:44.138
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:44.314

Hamilton dominates in Spain to take victory

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton drove a perfect lights to flag victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, finishing ahead of Max Verstappen and lapping every drive up to third from Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Despite hopes that Red Bull would be able to threaten Mercedes after showing strong pace on the medium Pirelli long runs in practice at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Hamilton was able to run faster at critical moments of the race to stay well clear of Verstappen.

At the start, Hamilton leapt off the line to easily hold the lead into Turn 1, while Bottas looked to have made an poor getaway before he was quickly swamped by Verstappen and Stroll on the long run to the first corner.

Verstappen was able to sweep around the outside at the first corner and head off after Hamilton, while Stroll – having made a great start from fifth on the grid and enjoyed the slipstream from the leaders on the run to the right-hander – barged his way down the inside to claim third place.

Bottas had to give the place and was nearly hit by Alex Albon’s Red Bull before he was able to charge after Stroll, eventually retaking third with the help of DRS on the main straight at the start of lap five.

Hamilton had immediately moved out of DRS range of Verstappen and the gap remained stable in the early stages as the drivers quickly entered a tyre management phase, with Verstappen telling Red Bull Hamilton was driving “super slow” as a result.

But the world champion began to increase the pressure on Verstappen with a series of fastest laps after the tenth lap of 66 had been completed that opened his lead beyond four seconds.

This increased steadily towards the end of the first stint as only Hamilton was able to lap consistently in the one minute, 23 seconds, with Verstappen growing frustrated on team radio by the state of his tyres before Red Bull brought him at the end of lap 21 to put on the medium tyres.

Mercedes left Hamilton and Bottas out for an extra two laps before bringing them in for a double-stack stop, with Hamilton’s taking 4.3 seconds with a slow left-rear change.

That meant the leader’s advantage was cut from just over seven seconds to 4.3 seconds by the time he rejoined, with Verstappen then able to match him in the one minute, 23 seconds during the early phase of the second stint and lower the gap to just below four seconds as they took turns exchanging slightly faster times.

But in a repeat of the opening stint, Hamilton was able to pick up his pace as he dipped into the one minute, 22 seconds from lap 34, with Verstappen unable to go with him.

This meant that Hamilton was able to steadily extend his advantage back to what it was before his first stop and then gradually up to the 10-second mark before Red Bull called Verstappen in again on 41.

This was to protect again the threat of an undercut from Bottas, who had closed in on second place as the leaders made their way through lapping battling midfielders.

Bottas stayed for another seven laps after initially flying with a fastest lap of the race at that stage on lap 42, and came in to go onto soft tyres at the end of lap 48.

Verstappen had used his time on fresh mediums to open up a 5.8 seconds gap over Bottas when the Finn rejoined, which got larger and the stabilised as they ran through more traffic, with move to the red-walled rubber not paying off for the Mercedes driver.

Hamilton came in on lap 50, one lap later than Mercedes had initially planned as the Briton refused to move onto the softs, preferring to stay on the mediums, and he was able to simply run clear in the lead to finish.

Hamilton came home 24.1 seconds clear, a running over a piece of Romain Grosjean’s Haas at Turn 2 late on, but this did not disturb his run to victory.

Verstappen finished 20.5 seconds ahead of Bottas in second as Mercedes brought him for a third stop with two to run, which meant he flew to the fastest lap – a one minute, 18.183 seconds – on the final tour, as the threat of rain clouds that appeared in the distance at the Barcelona track leaving it untouched.

Every other driver was lapped, with Sergio Perez finishing fourth on track but ending up fifth behind his teammate Lance Stroll – who completed a two-stopper to the Mexican’s one-stop strategy – as Perez picked up a five-second penalty for ignoring blue flags as Hamilton lapped him.

Carlos Sainz gained a place on his grid spot to come home sixth for McLaren, as taking softs at his first stop gave him extra grip compared to his rivals that he used to good effect.

He had to pass Sebastian Vettel’s one-stopping Ferrari late on, as did Stroll, with the German driver nevertheless finishing a solid seventh in front of a gaggle of cars after starting in P11 on the mediums and the keeping softs alive in his second stint.

Alex Albon had to run the hards after his first stop and came home eighth after starting sixth, with Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris chasing him home to round out the top ten.

Daniel Ricciardo’s one-stopper gained him a few spots but he finished just outside the points.

Grosjean came home last after picking up damage in a late clash with Antonio Giovinazzi (who finished P16, with his Alfa Romeo teammate Kimi Raikkonen P14 after his own moment with Grosjean on the pit straight enraged the 2007 world champion).

The Haas driver then half spun at the Turns 7-8 chicane in the final laps and took an extra stop that dropped him to P19.

Charles Leclerc was the only non-finisher after his Ferrari power unit cut out due to a sudden electrical problem at the final chicane around half distance, which spun Leclerc, who had been battling hard with Norris.

Leclerc was able to get the power on again but he toured slowly back to the pits with loose seat belts and retired when he reached his garage.

So not the most thrilling Spanish Grand Prix but a fantastic result for Lewis Hamilton in winning the race and extend his points lead in the championship. Hamilton has now scored 156 podiums in the sport, setting a new record for the most finishes in the top 3. Achievement unlocked!

Spanish Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h31m45.279s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 24.177s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 44.752s
4 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1 Lap
5 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1 Lap
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren_Renault 1 Lap
7 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1 Lap
8 Alexander Albon Red Bull-Honda 1 Lap
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1 Lap
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1 Lap
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1 Lap
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1 Lap
13 Esteban Ocon Renault 1 Lap
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 Lap
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1 Lap
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 Lap
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 Lap
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 2 Laps
19 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 2 Laps
– Charles Leclerc Ferrari Electrical

Hamilton scores 92nd career pole in Spain

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his 92nd pole position in Formula 1 by beating his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.

All the drivers in the top ten made it through to Q3 on the soft Pirelli compound, so there will be no risky strategy attempts at the start of Sunday’s race.

Hamilton led the way after the first runs in Q3 with a time of one minute, 15.584 seconds, which put him 0.059-seconds clear of his teammate, despite only setting the fastest time in the third sector.

Bottas ran ahead on the final runs and although he did manage to edge Hamilton in the first sector and establish a new best second sector, he faded in the final part of the lap and could not improve his position.

Hamilton also did not go faster on his final run, but pole position was already secure.

Verstappen edged Sergio Perez for third, as he too failed to improve on his final run, with Perez setting a personal best but still being unable to get ahead of the Red Bull.

Lance Stroll was sixth ahead of Alex Albon, with Carlos Sainz Jr leading Lando Norris who only made into Q3 by 0.002 seconds, in seventh and eighth for McLaren.

Charles Leclerc was the lead Ferrari but ended up down in ninth position, with Pierre Gasly making into in Q3 for the fourth time this season and then rounding out the top ten on the grid.

Gasly’s late improvement at the very end of Q2 knocked out Sebastian Vettel, and he will start P11 for the second race in a row – the third time this season he has not made it into the final part of qualifying.

It’s unfortunate that Vettel’s form in the Ferrari is so lacklustre. He is a classy driver who won four world championship in the past so it’s puzzling why Sebastian is struggling so much this season…

Daniil Kvyat, who will face a post-qualifying investigation for an incident with Kevin Magnussen at the second corner in Q1, took P12 ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

Kimi Raikkonen scored his best qualifying result so far in 2020 with P14, as Esteban Ocon finished as the slowest driver in Q2.

Ocon improved with his final run – all drivers that went for a second effort (which did not include the Mercedes pair and Verstappen) set personal bests apart from Sainz and Leclerc – but it was not enough.

In Q1, Raikkonen made it out of the first part of qualifying for the first time this season as the two Haas cars could not improve enough to stop the Alfa Romeo’s progress, despite him setting his final flying lap early in the pack of cars attempting a last blast in the first segment.

Kevin Magnussen managed to outqualify Romain Grosjean despite being behind in all three practice sessions – with Grosjean sixth and fifth in FP1 and FP2 respectively – but his final lap improvement left him P16 and out.

George Russell did not make it into Q2 for the first time since the season opener, but maintains his perfect 100% qualifying record over Nicholas Latifi and Williams.

Antonio Giovinazzi finished last in Q1, almost a second slower than his teammate with his best time, after earlier running heavily over the kerb at the exit of the final corner on his penultimate flying effort.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with this impressive qualifying result. 92 poles in Formula 1. Excellent performance. Going to be a fascinating race as overtaking is tricky at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Qualifying positions, Spanish Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.584
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:15.643
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:16.292
4 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:16.482
5 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:16.589
6 Alex Albon Red Bull Racing-Honda 1:17.029
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:17.044
8 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:17.084
9 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:17.087
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.136
11 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:17.168
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:17.192
13 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:17.198
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:17.386
15 Esteban Ocon Renaul 1:17.567
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:17.908
17 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:18.089
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:18.099
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:18.532
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:18.697

Verstappen manages tyres to win at Silverstone

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen scored his ninth career victory in Formula 1 by beating the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

The softer tyres and hot temperatures at Silverstone played a factor for Red Bull in defeating rival Mercedes in Formula 1’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s hard starting tyres paid off immediately in the opening stint, while polesitter Bottas lost out in a late wheel-to-wheel fight with Hamilton, who had run longer in the middle stage of the race.

Charles Leclerc took another unexpectedly high result for Ferrari with fourth place, while team-mate Sebastian Vettel had to put in a recovery drive after spinning at the start.

At the start, Bottas held the lead off the line while behind the black Mercedes cars Verstappen immediately launched past Hulkenberg to seize third.

In the pack behind, Vettel spun at the first turn after getting onto the inside kerb at Abbey while following Leclerc – with Vettel fortunate not to wipe out Carlos Sainz Jr as he snapped left and fell to the rear of the field.

Hamilton chased Bottas and attacked around the outside going into Brooklands – echoing their battle at the same spot from the 2019 British Grand Prix – but Bottas shrugged off his teammate’s attention and moved clear in first.

The Mercedes drivers initially pulled clear of Verstappen, but the Red Bull driver used his hard tyre advantage to close in as the first stint went on.

Red Bull even warned Verstappen he was getting too close – a call he swiftly rebuffed – and he continued to home in on Hamilton, with both Mercedes drivers beginning to struggle for tyre life with the race barely ten laps old.

As Verstappen twice had a look to Hamilton’s inside at Copse, with the gap between the pair at the 0.5 seconds mark, Mercedes called Bottas in to switch his blistered mediums for hards at the end of lap 13 of 52.

Hamilton came in at the end of the next lap to leave Verstappen in the lead.

The Mercedes drivers, particularly Bottas, immediately moved to set their quickest laps of the race at that stage, but it soon became clear that Verstappen was able to lap fastest despite his tyres having done Q2 and the opening stint.

Both Bottas and Hamilton looked to be struggling with blisters on their hards and set a series of times in the one minute, 32 seconds, while Verstappen was able to run comfortably in the one minute, 31 seconds.

He continued until lap 26 to take the medium tyres and rejoined just behind Bottas at the pit exit.

But with the advantage of fresh rubber and DRS he attacked down the Wellington Straight and to the inside of Brooklands.

Bottas stayed in front but not for long as Verstappen ran easily around the outside of Luffield to retake the lead as they accelerated out of the long right-hander.

Verstappen used his new tyres to set a series of personal bests and pulled out a lead over Bottas, before Red Bull told him to abandon all tyre management – just as Bottas had set the races fastest lap.

The Red Bull driver soon retook that and raced clear on a rather short second stint, with Verstappen and Bottas coming in together on lap 32 – Verstappen to go back to hards and Bottas to take another set of the white-walled rubber.

Mercedes left Hamilton out for another nine laps, with Red Bull briefly concerned he would try to go to the end despite the blisters down the middle of both of the world champion’s rear tyres.

He rejoined in fourth position behind Leclerc, who had risen up the order from eighth on the grid with an unseen but effective one-stopper, and he immediately lit up the time screens.

Hamilton did not immediately clear the Ferrari – doing so to the inside of Stowe despite a late and firm move from Leclerc to cover the attack on lap 45 – but when he did he homed in on Bottas, with both Mercedes drivers told they were “free to race”.

By the end of lap 49 Hamilton was all over Bottas’s rear and he blasted by with DRS on the Wellington Straight to take second.

Verstappen had a near nine-second lead which never looked in danger of being eroded in the final few laps and he roared home to take his first win of the season, with the Mercedes drivers significantly slower on the last lap.

Leclerc held on to make his one-stop work and take an unexpected fourth for Ferrari, with Alex Albon recovering to fifth after starting ninth in the second Red Bull.

He put in a series of bold passes around the outside of Copse – including moves on Kimi Raikkonen and Lando Norris – after Red Bull brought him in early to get rid of the mediums he had started on.

Albon demoted Lance Stroll to sixth late on, with Nico Hulkenberg ending up seventh as he required an extra third stops – for the unfancied softs – in the closing stages of his Formula 1 return.

Esteban Ocon also made a one-stopper work to go from his penalised grid position of P14 to eighth, with Norris and Daniil Kvyat rounding out the top ten.

Pierre Gasly struggled on the hards in the second stint and fell from seventh to P11 at the end, just ahead of the recovering Vettel.

Daniel Ricciardo spun battling Carlos Sainz Jr (who finished P13 for McLaren) in the middle phase of the race and the Renault driver came home P!4 after starting fifth.

Kevin Magnussen was a late retirement for Haas and the only non-finisher.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen with this amazing victory. That gamble after qualifying to start on the harder Pirelli worked in wonders especially for the opening stint. Max’s pace was very strong and to lap faster than both Mercedes driver is impressive. Well done Verstappen with this win for Red Bull Racing.

70th Anniversary Grand Prix, race results after 52 laps:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1h19m41.993s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 11.326s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 19.231s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 29.289s
5 Alexander Albon Red Bull-Honda 39.146s
6 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 42.538s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Racing Point-Mercedes 55.951s
8 Esteban Ocon Renault 1m04.773s
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1m05.544s
10 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1m09.669s
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1m10.642s
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m13.370s
13 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1m14.070s
14 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1 Lap
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 Lap
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1 Lap
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 Lap
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 Lap
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1 Lap
– Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari Retirement