2020 Tuscan Grand Prix Blog
Back in June, Daniel Ricciardo said that racing around Mugello in current F1 cars would be ‘insane’. That prophecy pretty much came to pass in a Grand Prix which was red flagged twice and saw only twelve cars finish the race.
Maybe it was a little bit crazy but in terms of excitement the Tuscan GP served up a treat for fans. The race had been underway for just two corners before a collision ended the chances of Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly, both of whom came into contact with Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo. Before all of this however, Valtterri Bottas got off to a flyer and had got the jump on Lewis Hamilton, leading the race into Turn 1.
With Verstappen’s Red Bull lying stricken in the gravel, a safety car was inevitable, and we had a procession behind this until lap seven before racing was allowed to resume. It was Bottas’ decision when to go and he opted to slow everyone down, weaving to heat up his tyres, before pulling away. The problem was cars at the back could not see this and with green lights on the boards they accelerated too early. The result was frightening, as we saw a concertina effect through the pack. Antonio Giovinazzi ran into the back of Kevin Magnuessen, which sent both cars spinning. Between them they also took out Carlos Sainz and Nicolas Latifi.
With debris strewn all over the track there was no choice but to red flag the session. Romain Grosjean did not mince his words saying over the radio: “That was f*****g stupid from whoever was at the front… They want to kill us or what? This is the worst thing I have seen ever.”
The clean-up lasted for 25 minutes or so and it was wisely decided that a standing restart would get things going again. As the cars lined up Bottas should have been feeling confident from box 1 but, as in the race start itself, box 2 proved to be the place to be. Lewis Hamilton dived into his teammates slipstream using the slingshot to lead into Turn 1.
Things returned to a little normality with Hamilton at the front of the pack and the two Mercedes pulling clear of the field. Lance Stroll was having a good race in fourth place and was chasing down the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo to try and secure a place on the podium. But on lap 42 he suffered a heavy crash at the second of the two 170mph Arrabbiata corners, a suspected puncture sending him into the tyre wall. Everyone was relieved to see Stroll climb out and walk away, but his car had been severely damaged with smoke billowing from the engine for some time afterwards. There was little choice but to red flag the race again to allow for the Racing Point to be safely recovered.
The race got back underway with another standing start, which will not have pleased Mercedes. With Hamilton now in box 1 and Bottas in box 2, would we see them reverse rolls again, or worse still come together as they raced each other into Turn 1? As it happens, Bottas made a slow getaway and Hamilton was able to retain his lead with little difficulty. Call us cynical but we wonder if perhaps Valterri was instructed to not ‘get a flyer’ this time around.
Hamilton made no mistakes from that point on and he was the deserved winner of the race, with Bottas in second spot and the Red Bull of Alex Albon filling the final place on the podium. It was a long old session and physically this was the toughest race of the season so far for the drivers. Lewis Hamilton said afterwards: “It was like three races in one day. It was incredibly tough today, obviously with a difficult start… This track is phenonmenal.”
Alex Albon deserves credit for his first podium of the season. The Red Bull driver has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent weeks and he was be delighted with how the race panned out, saying: “Obviously a while to get here – and it was a tough one. I had to work for it… I can breathe, it feels nice to be here.”
It would be amiss for us not to mention Daniel Riccardo as well. He was oh so close to winning that bet with Cyril Abiteboul about the tattoo. He was in P3 with 15 laps to go but his car just didn’t have the pace to hold off Albon in the Red Bull. A great drive nonetheless and Ricciardo should be proud of his fourth place finish.
Both Ferrari’s looked stunning in their 1,000 race special livery, which was a shade of burgundy to mimic their first F1 colour scheme used in 1950. The problem is the SF1000 has none of its predecessor’s ability on track. A P8 and P10 finish for the team, when only 12 cars finished the race, is hugely worrying for the team.
F1 will have a well-earned rest now but will return in two weeks’ time for the Russian Grand Prix. If Lewis Hamilton wins that race, then he will have equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 race victories. It is now a question of when, not if, he will surpass it.
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