Mugello (AP) – In the crash chaos on the Ferrari home circuit in Tuscany, Lewis Hamilton drove Mercedes’ 100th success since returning to the factory team a decade ago.
The Finn Valtteri Bottas in second place made the day of the Silver Arrows perfect in the wild race with several breaks in accidents. Third place went to Alexander Albon from Thailand, who won a podium for the first time in the Red Bull.
For Sebastian Vettel, it was enough for a tired greeting to the fans of his lame Ferrari. His verdict after the next Formula 1 humiliation was devastating. “There weren’t many cars that were slower than us today. That is of course bitter,” said the four-time world champion after finishing tenth in Mugello. At the 1000th Grand Prix of Scuderia, the traditional team followed the local Tifosi without a chance on Sunday. “I would have liked to win more than one point, but that didn’t work out in the end,” said 33-year-old Vettel.
With his 90th triumph in his career, Briton Hamilton extended his World Championship lead to 55 points over Bottas and in the coming race in Russia he can level with record holder Michael Schumacher (91 wins). “It was three races in one day today, it was incredibly tough. My heart is still beating,” said the Briton after stepping out of his car visibly exhausted.
In the first Grand Prix after his switch to Aston Martin became known from 2021, Vettel could hardly take advantage of serious accidents in the hopelessly inferior Ferrari. “Of course a lot happened, but everyone could say that today,” said Vettel. “We just didn’t have the pace in the race, that was all we could.”
Teammate Charles Leclerc also lagged behind in eighth place. “We miss the speed, we wear the tires too fast. It’s the whole project that we have to rethink,” admitted Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto.
The start of the Ferrari anniversary ended in confusion. Hamilton came off poorly from the 95th pole position of his career, Bottas immediately raced to first place. Behind it, the engine of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull failed, the Dutchman fell back into midfield and was then roughly pushed into the gravel by Kimi Räikkönen in the Alfa Romeo. Most recently in Monza, the supposedly strongest Mercedes fighter, Verstappen, did not finish.
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Even for Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly from France, who was a sensational winner last week, the working day was over after a few kilometers due to this accident. Because the Spaniard Carlos Sainz was still spinning on the track in his McLaren, the following drivers had to avoid it with difficulty. Vettel saw Sainz late and damaged the front wing of the McLaren. The race management intervened and let the safety car come onto the track.
After the restart Bottas drove to the top with snake lines, the rest delaying too long. As the first drivers were already accelerating at the rear, Antonio Giovinazzi crashed into Kevin Magnussen’s Haas race car in his Alfa Romeo. Sainz and Williams driver Nicholas Latifi were also involved in the accident. “Are they going to kill us?” Scolded Haas pilot Romain Grosjean.
The house straight was littered with debris, the race was halted for the time being, just like a week earlier in Monza. The Formula 1 makers probably didn’t have such a spectacle in mind when they awarded a Grand Prix to the Ferrari home circuit in Tuscany for the first time in the Corona emergency season. After all, the nearly 3,000 spectators who were admitted to a race for the first time this year were offered thrilling action.
After a 25 minute break, only 13 of the 20 pilots formed a restart. The Frenchman Esteban Ocon had to give up because of overheated brakes on his Renault.
But this time, everything went smoothly when the red lights went out. At the top, Hamilton restored normal pecking order by first sucking teammate Bottas into the slipstream and then pulling it past. Behind them, Leclerc, third, gave the hosts a little hope of a sense of achievement on the big holiday. But soon the Monegasse could no longer defend itself against the pursuers. “We’re so slow,” he radioed to the pits – and fell far behind.
Ferrari rival Vettel had no chance again. With an inferior engine, the prospect of Ferrari ending the many years of winless series is minimal at best.
On the other hand, everything is going according to plan for superstar Hamilton on his way to his seventh title. Another break in the race after Lance Stroll took a tough 45 laps at Racing Point, failed to take the Brit off the road to victory.
After missing the podium in Monza due to a time penalty, he can now match Schumacher’s record in Sochi. With 222nd place in the points, he became another record champion in Mugello.