2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Blog
It was the magnificent seven for Mercedes at Imola this weekend. A one-two finish was enough to secure them a 7th Constructors Championship with four races remaining. Huge congratulations to everyone involved at Brackley. This is an amazing achievement.
Before the start of the race Lewis Hamilton expressed concerns that the Emilia Romagna GP could be dull due to a lack of overtaking opportunities around the historic but tight circuit. In the end we were treated to a wild race with numerous changes in the pecking order.
Valtteri Bottas may consider himself the unluckiest man in F1 right now. He put in another strong Qualifying performance to take pole and then made no mistake at lights out with a clean getaway. Leading into Turn 1, Bottas must have fancied his chances, especially with Max Verstappen out dragging Lewis Hamilton to take second at the first corner.
We love sport due to its unpredictable nature, but nobody would argue that Lewis Hamilton got lucky with how the pitstops played out in this race. Max Verstappen pitted first to try and undercut Bottas. This triggered a round of pit stops, with Mercedes bringing their driver in one lap later to cover the move. Lewis Hamilton was one of the few who did not come in, choosing instead to do a long first run and reeling off a sequence of fastest laps. The gods were smiling on Lewis when Esteban Ocon’s Renault broke down on track prompting a Virtual Safety Car at the exact the moment Hamilton was coming to the pit lane entry. A ‘free’ pitstop meant Hamilton re-joined with fresh tyres and still leading the race.
From that point on it looked like the race was in the bag for Lewis and he gradually extended his lead. Max Verstappen put in a valiant effort to close him down, passing Valtteri Bottas in the process, but disaster struck with 12 laps to go when he suffered a tyre blowout. The Dutchman was sent spinning into a gravel trap and the position of his stricken Red Bull left officials with no choice but to deploy a full Safety Car.
You have to feel sorry for Verstappen, but this chain of events set up a grandstand finish to the race. Before racing was able to resume George Russell crashed whilst trying to warm up his tyres. The young British driver was clearly distraught having been racing in P10 at the time and in a position to score his first points in Formula 1. Russell said he was “so sorry” to his team and described the incident as “unacceptable”.
The race did then get back underway and predictably the two Mercedes pulled clear but we had a fascinating battle for the final spot on the podium with the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo defending a late charge from the AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat. The Australian driver held out, proving that winning his bet with Cyril Abiteboul was no fluke. A delighted Ricciardo said afterwards: “Two podiums in three races! I’m very happy and I didn’t forget to do the ‘shoey’ this time… No second tattoo this time round though, I think Cyril’s suffered enough!”
Kimi Raikkonen drove an excellent race to steer his Alfa Romeo home in ninth place. A huge stint on his first set of tyres allowed him to take advantage of the Safety Car period with a fresh set of tyres. He is clearly still a favourite of the fans and was voted ‘Driver of the Day’. The Iceman was typically unemotional, saying: “In the end, we had good race pace and we were able to be in the right place to gain from the opportunities that arose. We have been closing the gap lately, there’s obviously still much we can improve, but we keep working hard for that.”
Red Bull will feel hard done by the way things panned out over a weekend which promised so much. Before the start of the race no points was an unthinkable outcome, but that is what they ended up with. Christian Horner commented: “We’ve had three races in Italy this year and three DNFs for Max so it’s not been kind to him.”
Formula 1 will have a well-earned weekend off now, but returns with the Turkish Grand Prix on 15th November. We have fond memories of our trips to Istanbul. It is a great track for F1 cars, especially the multi-apex Turn 8, and hopefully we are in for a thrilling race.