After another outbreak of Covid-19 in Victoria saw the Winton SuperSprint cancelled, the Supercars championship returned to the track for the first time in a month and since The Bend SuperSprint in South Australia.
A chaotic first ever Formula One grand prix at Mugello saw Lewis Hamilton take his 90th career win from teammate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Alex Albon, amid two red flag stoppages and almost half the field out of the race.
Bottas led his teammate Hamilton off the start, after the championship leader made a slow getaway. Also making a strong start was Charles Leclerc from fifth into third, while Max Verstappen bemoaned a lack of power for his poor start.
Though Verstappen’s race only made it as far as Turn 2, as a multi-car incident ensued involving the Dutchman, Monza race winner Pierre Gasly and Kimi Räikkönen. While partial contact from Lance Stroll on Carlos Sainz sent the McLaren into a spin, which then saw Sebastian Vettel arrive on the scene. He tried to avoid contact but did tag the Spaniard.
The Safety Car immediately deployed while the wrecks of Verstappen and Gasly were cleared, as well as the debris. A restart was attempted on Lap 7, before another Safety Car neutralised the race due to another multi-car pileup occurred on the main straight which saw Sainz, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen and Nicholas Latifi all crash out.
A red flag suspended the race on Lap 9 as drivers became vocal over how slow the leaders were at restarting. Bottas at the front of the pack upon the Safety Car leaving the track, is in control of the restart – though it appeared the cars in the midfield were already at racing speed before the leader accelerated, leading to an unfortunate concertina.
The race then proceeded to a standing restart like at the Italian Grand Prix last week, with Bottas initially getting the better getaway. However, Hamilton had the better traction coming out on the outside of San Donato to take the lead.
Mercedes then managed their lead into the middle part of the race, as the jostling for positions took place behind Hamilton and Bottas. Leclerc didn’t last long in third, as Stroll relegated the Ferrari – before Ricciardo and Perez also dispatched the two-time grand prix winner.
The battle for third then saw Renault pulling the strategic trigger on Lap 28 and pitting Ricciardo to undercut Stroll. This was achieved on when the Canadian pitted on Lap 31, as the Aussie now was ahead of the Racing Point and Albon in the Red Bull.
Bottas sought to undercut his teammate on Lap 32 by going onto the hard tyre, however Hamilton on the next lap was able to switch over to the same compound and re-join the race with a 7-second lead. Something which left the Finn fuming.
A second red flag suspended the race on Lap 45 following a high-speed crash from Stroll at Arrabbiata 2. The Racing Point driver claimed to have picked up a puncture on the kerb, before completely losing the rear and spearing off into the barrier. All drivers bar Leclerc pitted under the Safety Car prior to the red flag also – which gave the Ferrari track position ahead of Russell.
On the restart, Hamilton light work of Bottas to lead away – while the Finn lost a place to Ricciardo before taking second back a lap later. Ricciardo then on Lap 50 conceded his podium opportunity to the faultless Albon who collected his first podium in Formula One.
A poor restart for George Russell saw him drop from ninth to twelfth, though with Kimi Räikkönen earning a 5-second time penalty for a pit-lane infringement – there was hope for the Williams driver to score his points. This did not eventuate however, as Räikkönen was relegated to ninth in between the two Ferrari drivers – finishing eighth and tenth for their 1000th grand prix as a Formula One constructor.
A real test of survival across the 59-laps of the Tuscan Grand Prix, which in the end saw championship leader Hamilton extend his lead in the standings over Bottas; who’s own title prospects seem to have faded after this latest failure to win.