Hamilton Snags 90th F-1 Win At Mugello

0
397
Hamilton Snags 90th
Lewis Hamilton is well on his way to another Formula One title. (LAT Images photo)

MUGELLO, Italy – Lewis Hamilton moved one step closer to Michael Schumacher’s all-time Formula One wins record with a commanding victory during Sunday’s Tuscan Grand Prix at the Mugello Circuit.

In a wild race that featured a pair of red-flag stoppages, Hamilton seized control of the 59-lap event on a lap-10 restart, driving around Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and never looking back.

Hamilton maintained the lead once pit stops cycled through near the midway point of the grand prix and then dashed away following a second standing restart with 12 laps remaining to seal the deal.

It marked his 90th F-1 victory, putting Hamilton just one behind Schumacher’s leading total of 91 wins.

“The race was all a bit of a daze; it was like three races in one day!” Hamilton noted. “Just incredibly tough today … This track is phenomenal. Obviously the heat was tough, and keeping Valtteri behind – he’s been quick all weekend – that was not easy and I was behind at the beginning.

“All those restarts, the total focus that’s needed during that time … it was really, really hard.”

Hamilton also set two other F-1 records Sunday, with a 42nd consecutive points finish and 222nd overall points finish creating new marks in those categories.

While the battle at the front was anticlimactic for most of the day, that didn’t mean the race came without excitement. In fact, there was quite a bit of it early on.

The opening lap saw carnage just two corners in, as a midfield stackup combined with a bad start for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen led to a six-car incident. Among those eliminated were Verstappen and Pierre Gasly, who was coming off his maiden F-1 victory one week earlier in the Italian Grand Prix.

The safety car was deployed for that crash, and would have to be deployed again almost instantly following a lap-seven restart. A similar stack-up coming down the main straightaway eliminated Carlos Sainz, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi and led to a red flag for debris cleanup.

Once racing resumed, Hamilton snatched the lead from Bottas, making a pass similar to the one Bottas used to take the point from Hamilton on the initial start. From there, the die was cast among the two Mercedes runners.

“The first part of the race went well for me, but also was pretty short. I had a dream start and maintained my position on the first safety car restart. Once I lost the position to Lewis on the second start, it was really tricky to get it back,” said Bottas. “I did everything I could and was pushing really hard, especially in the middle stint so I could maintain the distance. But when you are behind, you need to slide the car more and that uses up your tires.

“There weren’t many opportunities once I lost the place, but that’s how it goes, and I just need to keep pushing and keep trying to get better.”

Another red flag was displayed on lap 46 following a heavy crash for Lance Stroll at Arrabbiata 2, leading to a 12-lap sprint to the finish in which Bottas could do nothing to eat into Hamilton’s advantage.

The battle for the final podium spot became intriguing down the stretch, with Red Bull’s Alex Albon pulling off a nifty move on Daniel Ricciardo around the outside of turn one with eight laps left.

Albon sprinted on from there for a third-place finish, his best in F-1 competition, while Ricciardo crossed fourth for Renault after coming agonizingly close to a first podium for the yellow and black team.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was fifth ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, with AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat close behind in seventh.

Charles Leclerc celebrated Ferrari’s 1,000th Formula One grand prix start as a team with an eighth-place finish, with teammate Sebastian Vettel snagging 10th to give the Prancing Horses a double-points result.

Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen split the Ferrari pair in ninth despite a five-second time penalty assessed after the event for crossing the grass on pit entry.

George Russell again just missed out on his first points finish in F-1, crossing the line 11th after running inside the top 10 for much of the race.

The Formula One season continues Sept. 25-27 with the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrom.