- Lewis Hamilton wins chaotic inaugural 2020 Formula 1 Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello
- Mercedes driver claims 90th F1 win ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, as Alex Albon takes maiden podium spot in third
- Epic 145-minute race sees two red flags and multiple incidents
MUGELLO, ITALY – After another weekend of Formula 1 chaos in Italy, what did we learn from the inaugural 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello?
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Hamilton edges Mugello duel
Its now 90 up for Lewis Hamilton, one away from Michael Schumacher‘s record of Formula 1 wins.
After sealing his sixth victory of the season at the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix, the Briton could draw level with the German in Sochi in a fortnight’s time.
Coming home first after managing to wade through the Tuscan carnage on Sunday, the 35-year-old again edged out teammate Valtteri Bottas, whose tyre issues once more came to the fore.
Having now extended his World Drivers’ Championship lead by a further eight points to a cushion of 55, nine races now stand between Hamilton and what is now looking likely to be a record-equalling seventh F1 title in December.
Can we stay in Italy. Please?
We said lightning couldn’t strike twice in successive F1 weekends. How wrong we were.
In a race punctuated by two red flags, a second weekend in Italy brought more talking points during its’ duration than in an entire average season.
Such was the chaos in Tuscany’s debut F1 outing, six cars had retired before a lap of racing had even been completed, with both last weekend’s winner and runner-up at Monza in Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz, forced to retire early on.
But that was only a sample of the chaos on show.
After another pre-race power failure, Max Verstappen found himself the contents of a metallic sandwich and shunted to the back after a stuttering start, was clipped by clipped by Kimi Raikkonen and set into the gravel trap.
Then came the incident that will be no doubt be scrutinised intensely before resumption in Russia later this month.
As the race restarted from the first red flag, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen slowed down as he approached the line, reacting to cars in front.
Williams’ Nicholas Latifi took evasive action and, unsighted until the last second, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi rammed into the back of Magnussen’s car.
Sainz then hit both Latifi and Giovinazzi, who came close to rolling, before his car settled back on to the track.
With all drivers in question walking away unscathed, the remainder of race stretched out to an almost record length of 2 hrs and 25 minutes.
As just 12 cars completed the race, it all led many to ponder, will F1 return to Mugello sooner rather than later?
Roll on the principality and Imola next month.
Questions over restart safety
In post-race musings, attention understandably focused on the multiple-car incident from the Safety Car.
With fingers of accusation pointed at Bottas in attempting to protect the gap between himself and the chasing pack, his running buddy Hamilton, was quick to jump to the Finn’s defence.
Indeed, as Hamilton told BBC Sport, the Briton questioned the actions of the Safety Car itself:
“It’s absolutely not Valtteri’s fault at all. It’s the decision makers. I don’t know who.
They have been been moving the switching off the safety car lights later and later. We are out there fighting for position. Especially when you earn a position like Valtteri earned the position of being in the lead.
Obviously they are trying to make it more exciting – but today was a little bit over the limit perhaps. But he [Bottas] did exactly what anyone would do.”
Ferrari anniversary improvement
It was again far from a weekend to write home about for Ferrari on home soil, but at least the labouring Prancing Horse managed not only a double finish, but both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were in the points.
As Scuderia celebrated their 1000th F1 race just a mere 70 miles from their base in Marinello, the Burgundy-emblazoned Italian manufacturer perhaps surprisingly, were not caught up in the Mugello melee.
In fact, the closest Ferrari came to an incident was when Vettel brushed tyres with Sainz on the Spaniard’s early spin, before his retirement, as both drivers rolled along in midfield.
With a two-week break to reassess after nine races that have left many scratching their heads, Scuderia will now attempt to salvage something of a difficult year so far, with further team changes on the horizon.
Albon breaks podium duck
Aside from the flying debris and many millions of pounds of F1 car flying around the track at Mugello, Albon was able to negotiate the maelstrom and claim his first podium finish.
On the back of eight races of the season filled with huge frustration and limited success, the Thai driver finally earnt his moment to celebrate.
With his Red Bull teammate back in the garage, the London-born 24-year-old kept his cool in the Tuscan cauldron and after taking the scalp of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo late on, grabbed what could become a watershed moment for Albon.
After huge ire caused in Austria via Hamilton for the second time with the potential of a victory in the offing, Albon finally converts a handful of fourth-placed finishes and six fifth-placed finishes into a deserved step on the podium.
There is surely more to come.
The 2020 Russian Grand Prix takes place in Sochi, between 25-27 September.
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