Hamilton’s Imola victory leads Mercedes to seventh straight Constructor’s win
Mercedes-AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton spearheaded the team’s claim at its record seventh consecutive constructors’ title at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, leading teammate Valtteri Bottas and a delighted Renault DP World’s Daniel Ricciardo – but there was late race drama as Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen retired from P2 after appearing to suffer a tyre issue, bringing out a Safety Car that led to a climactic race ending.
Bottas had enjoyed a strong start to the Imola race from pole position, leading into Turn 2 as Hamilton lost out to Verstappen on the run down to Tamburello (the Corner 2-3-4 chicane) on Lap 1 and moved to third.
But Mercedes’ decision to give Hamilton a long first stint paid dividends when Renault’s Esteban Ocon retired at the side of the track on Lap 29, the resultant Virtual Safety Car allowing Hamilton to pit from the lead – Bottas and Verstappen having boxed earlier in the race – and retain P1.
But with 12 laps to go, Verstappen’s retirement at Villeneuve (the Corner 5-6 chicane) led to a full Safety Car, setting up a breathless final few laps of the race, which ultimately saw Hamilton hold on to win out from Bottas, while Ricciardo secured his second podium of the season for Renault after holding off a late charge from Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, who came in fourth as he fights for his F1 future.
Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow’s Charles Leclerc came in fifth at the chequered flag, holding off BWT Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, who had gambled with a late stop under the Safety Car. The McLaren F1 duo of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris claimed P7 and P8, while it was a fantastic day for the Alfa Romeo Racing team, taking their first double-points finish of the year, with Kimi Raikkonen (P9) leading Antonio Giovinazzi (P10), the Finn having made a 49-lap stint work to his advantage.
Meanwhile, after a brilliant effort to qualify P4, Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly suffered a coolant leak forcing him to retire from the race on Lap 8 – while in a bizarre incident, Williams Racing’s George Russell spun into retirement under the Safety Car on Lap 53.
Mercedes, though, continued to re-write the F1 history books with an amazing seventh consecutive constructors’ title. Additionally, with the fastest lap bonus point too, the now-85 point lead over Bottas also means that Hamilton’s own seventh title looks a practical certainty.
Note: Provisional results. Hamilton scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race
For the next race, we go to another F1 returnee venue, as we head to the Istanbul Park circuit for the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix on November 12-15.