British superstar Lewis Hamilton has won a crash-marred inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix, securing his sixth race win of the 2020 Formula 1 season and 90th career victory.
Teammate Valtteri Bottas was second as Red Bull driver Alex Albon secured his first podium in F1, but all the talk from Tuscany’s Mugello Circuit was about the chaotic crashes which plagued the race.
Only 12 cars crossed the finish line, with several drivers forced to retire throughout the 59-lap race.
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The mayhem started on the opening lap, when a collision at the first corner resulted in last weekend’s winner Pierre Gasly and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen flying off the track. McLaren driver Carlos Sainz went spinning in the middle of the tarmac, as several rivals frantically attempted to dodge the out-of-control car.
Two 2020 Grand Prix winners were forced to retire without completing a lap as yellow flags were shown in Tuscany.
But the chaos was by no means over. After the yellow flag had ended on the seventh lap, the drivers were speeding up when several cars collided at the back of the pack.
With four cars unable to move and a mountain of debris scattered on the main straight, red flags were shown for the second consecutive F1 race.
“That was f****** stupid from whoever was at the front,” Haas driver Romain Grosjean cried.
“Do they want to kill us or what? This is the worst thing I’ve seen, ever.”
With 50 laps remaining, the race recommenced from a standing start, and Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo maneuvered his way into the podium positions after a tactical pit stop.
On the 42nd lap, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll spun off the track after receiving a puncture, prematurely ending his race.
Stroll was in P4 and battling Albon when he flew into the barriers at high speed, but was unharmed during the scary incident.
Unfortunately, yet another red flag was shown, and the drivers were forced to return to the pits again as stewards cleared the flaming car from the track.
The race got back underway for a third time, and Ricciardo briefly found himself in second place after shooting past Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas from the standing start.
“It was all a bit of a daze. It was like three races in one day. It was incredibly tough today, obviously with a difficult start,” Hamilton said after the race.
“This track is phenomenal. Obviously the heat and holding off Valtteri Bottas, who has been quick all weekend, was not easy and I was behind in the beginning. All those restarts, the focus that’s needed during that time, it’s really, really hard.”
On the podium, Hamilton wore a shirt which read: “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.”
Albon was chuffed to snare his maiden podium finish in F1: “Obviously a while to get here – and it was a tough one. I had to work for it.
“I can breath, it feels nice to be here.
“We just didn’t get off the line, so most of the overtakes had to be done on the circuit. Our car is good on the brakes, we’ve known that since day one, so we can do the kind of moves like that. It’s fun to drive.”
TUSCAN GP FINAL RESULTS
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
3. Alex Albon (Red Bull)
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
5. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
6. Lando Norris (McLaren)
7. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri)
8. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
9. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
10. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
11. George Russell (Williams)
12. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
DNF – Carlos Sainz, Lance Stroll, Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Max Verstappen, Nicholas Latifi, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly
For the third time today, the drivers completed a formation lap in preparation for another standing start.
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo muttered: “Let’s finish what we started.”
Martin Brundle admitted on Sky Sports: “I’m nervous in the pit of my stomach.”
The lights go out, and Ricciardo gets off to the perfect start, sneaking past Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas into second place.
For a couple of laps, only Lewis Hamilton was ahead of the Aussie driver.
Unfortunately, Bottas powered past Ricciardo on the 48th lap, and the Renault slipped back into P3. Meanwhile, the gap to Hamilton increased to over two seconds.
Ricciardo’s dream of a podium finish then took a massive blow when Red Bull’s Alex Albon smoothly overtook the Renault car on the 50th lap.
“This is so the race (Albon) needed,” Brundle said.
8 laps to go…
On the 42nd lap, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll spun off the track after receiving a puncture, ending his Tuscan GP.
The 21-year-old was in P4 and battling Red Bull’s Alex Albon when he went off the track at high speed, triggering yellow flags at the Mugello Circuit. Thankfully, Stroll was unharmed during the scary incident.
David Croft said on Sky Sports: “Nothing he could do about that at all.”
Several drivers were immediately called into the pits, including Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo.
But soon after, the red flags were shown for the second time today, and the cars once again returned to the pits with 14 laps remaining.
Barrier repairs got underway on the area in which Stroll crashed his Racing Point car, which was expelling heavy smoke as a crane removed it from the track. Stewards frantically sprayed the car with fire extinguishers as the smouldering resumed.
With only 12 cars remaining in the race, there will be another standing start when the race resumes in about 10-15 minutes.
Top ten with 14 laps remaining: Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo, Albon, Perez, Norris, Kvyat, Leclerc, Russell, Vettel
Cyril Abiteboul will be getting nervous!
Despite emerging from the pits in P8, Daniel Ricciardo has slowly climbed up to third spot as his rivals enter the pits.
Ricciardo has not managed an F1 podium since he joined Renault in 2019, but is on track to achieve the feat at the Tuscan GP.
However, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll and Red Bull’s Alex Albon are both less than seven seconds behind the Australian, and gaining ground quickly.
“It’s not done and dusted for the final podium by any means,” Martin Brundle muttered on Sky Sports.
Earlier this year, Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul promised he would get a tattoo if Ricciardo secured a podium in the 2020 season.
David Croft cheekily said: “I’m just Googling tattoo parlour near Magello … I’ve found half a dozen.”
Top three with 25 laps to go: Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo
Aussie driver Daniel Ricciardo was in P6 for the restart on the grid, but quickly managed to overtake Racing Point’s Sergio Perez on the 15th lap.
With the assistance of DRS, Ricciardo snuck past his Mexican rival on the main straight.
The Renault driver soon caught up to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, and then performed another classy overtake on the 18th lap.
Ferrari’s car is considerably struggling on the straights, with Leclerc slipping from third to seventh in less than 10 minutes.
All of a sudden, Ricciardo is sitting pretty in P4, with only the two Mercedes drivers and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll ahead of him.
Soon after, Ricciardo caught up to Stroll, and the Aussie found himself in a riveting battle for his first podium since 2018.
However, after racing just 1.1 seconds behind third-placed Stroll, Ricciardo was forced to pit in the 28th lap and slipped back down to 8th, for now.
32 laps to go…
Still with 50 laps to go, the race recommenced from a standing start.
British superstar Lewis Hamilton got off to the ideal start, overtaking his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and reclaiming first place.
Meanwhile, Red Bull driver Alex Albon has dropped to seventh after starting on the grid in P4.
Williams driver George Russell and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen are in the midst of an entertaining battle for tenth place.
Top three after 12 laps: Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc
A red flag has been called after a series of mammoth crashes in the Tuscan GP.
On the eighth lap, the drivers were speeding up after a yellow flag from an earlier incident when several cars collided at the back of the pack.
Multiple cars were unmoving in the pit wall, and plenty of debris was left on the track, so the race was immediately halted.
As a result, we now have seven retired cars – the Tuscan GP is over for Carlos Sainz, Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Max Verstappen, Nicholas Latifi, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly.
“That was f****** stupid from whoever was at the front,” Romain Grosjean cried.
“Do they want to kill us or what? This is the worst thing I’ve seen, ever.”
Meanwhile, Sainz was heard saying: “Oh my god, that’s dangerous.”
Thankfully, all the drivers appear to be unharmed after the incident, although Sainz was spotted rubbing his hand in discomfort.
After three years without a red flag, the F1 has now had back-to-back races featuring red flags.
Sky Sports commentator David Croft bluntly called it “absolute madness”.
The race will restart soon from a standing start. Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo is currently in sixth, while the top three spots are occupied by Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, and Charles Leclerc.
Top 10 for restart: Bottas, Hamilton, Leclerc, Albon, Stroll, Ricciardo, Perez, Norris, Kvyat, Russell
Martin Brundle said on Sky Sports: “This is a golden opportunity for Alex Albon. He’s now carrying the weight of the team on his shoulders.”
Lights out at the Mugello Circuit, and the race has immediately been thrown into chaos.
Valtteri Bottas had a wonderful start, overtaking his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton on the opening straight. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc also enjoyed an incredible start, jumping from fifth to third.
But a collision at the first corner resulted in last weekend’s winner Pierre Gasly and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen flying off the track.
McLaren driver Carlos Sainz went spinning in the middle of the track, as several rival frantically attempted to dodge the out of control car.
A safety car was called as Gasly and Verstappen exited their cars, retiring without completing a lap.
“It looks like he’s been hit from behind,” Paul Di Resta said on Sky Sports.
Meanwhile, Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel broke his front wing, and had to pit before the second lap to get the issues resolved.
“What a start to this race,” David Croft muttered.
Top three after four laps: Bottas, Hamilton, Leclerc
Before the race had even begun, disaster struck Max Verstappen and the Red Bull team.
The Dutch driver’s car was expelling a lot of smoke minutes before the race was scheduled to commence.
Mechanics frantically worked on the car with its engine cover off, in scenes almost identical to July’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
“There’s another panic on the grid for Max Verstappen before the race!” Ted Kravitz reported on Sky Sports.
“It looks like some sort of the engine or the exhaust has got a bit hot. They’ve obviously seen something they’re not happy with.
“The team say it was power-unit related in the software department, and they think they have fixed it.”
Thankfully, the Red Bull team seemingly resolved the issue a few minutes later.
Earlier in the day, Verstappen said: “I think we have a decent race car, and good top speed for once. It’s quite a tough track on the tyres so it’s not going to be easy to manage that. That is usually not a bad thing for us – but for sure Mercedes have learnt a lot from what happened at Silverstone.
“It’s not going to be easy to beat them, but we’re going to give it a good go.”
Lights out in ten minutes.
Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo has issued a warning to his rivals ahead of Sunday’s Tuscan Grand Prix.
Ricciardo was denied the opportunity to attempt a final flying lap when Renault teammate Esteban Ocon spun out in Qualifying. Therefore, the 31-year-old will start on the grid in P8.
Ricciardo vented his frustration on social media, while also promising he would return with a vengeance for Sunday’s race.
“Couldn’t get the last lap in with yellow flags,” he posted to Instagram.
“Tomorrow we go fast. So fast.”
There has been vigorous debate about the difficulty of overtaking on the Mugello Circuit, but Ricciardo is hopeful Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc will create some chaos at the front.
“I watched the F3 race and there were lots of DRS moves and it looked like they could battle and follow,” Ricciardo explained.
“I think with Charles in fifth I’m not sure he’s got a fifth-place race car so that in itself might create a little bit of a battle for that top five, so I think him qualifying there will make it exciting.
“I think from P5 back to P12 it’s so tight so hopefully we’ll have some battles today.”
British superstar Lewis Hamilton claimed his 95th pole position on Saturday, and had nothing but praise for the “phenomenal” track.
“It’s been a really tough weekend, if I’m honest,” Hamilton conceded.
“Firstly, this track is phenomenal — it’s a really challenging circuit and you saw Valtteri was quicker than me all day yesterday and even this morning.
“But I’ve been working hard in the background to improve on my lines and set up and the engineers and mechanics did a great job, so finally I got the lap that I needed.”
Hamilton also warned of several “unknowns” in the track with no historical F1 data.
“The engineers don’t know what to expect, and it’s the same for me,” Hamilton said.
“We’ve got an uphill long run down to Turn One with a headwind, we’re all on soft tyres, and we don’t know how long they’ll last. We don’t know what overtaking’s going to be like.”