Hamilton wins drama-filled Tuscan Grand Prix

BOITUMELO RANTAO

FERRARI marked a major milestone, Mercedes stole the show and Red Bull celebrated a debut podium.

That encapsulates the high drama at the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix at the Mugello Circuit, which saw two red flag restarts after crashes and ultimately a 90th win for defending champion Lewis Hamilton, who withstood a strong challenge from teammate Valterri Bottas, finished the race in 2nd position.

The win means that Hamilton is now 55 points ahead in the world championship table and is within one win of matching F1 legend Michael Schumacher’s record. “It was a bit of a daze. It was like three races in one day. It’s crazy to be here and have 90 Grand Prix wins,” Hamilton said.

Bottas, who had a fantastic start to the race, beating Hamilton, was disappointed when the world champion returned aggressively after the first red flag stop.

 “It’s disappointing because I had a dream start to the race. Once I lost position at the second restart I didn’t have any opportunities,” Bottas said.  “I’ll keep pushing – it has to turn out well for me at some point”

Red Bull, who were devastated after ace driver Mark Verstappen had a bad start and crashed out early in the race, celebrated the first podium finish for Alexander Albon, who drove like a man possessed to pass Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo with a few laps left after the third restart.

Albon was pleased with his historic feat. “It took [us] a while to get here! It was a tough one. It feels nice to be here,” he said.

Ricciardo’s 4th position is Renault’s best ever F1 finish and earned him the driver of the day title mantle.

Hosts Ferrari, celebrating 1000 F1 races, could not get the performance to put on icing on a weekend of celebrations. After a great start which saw him running third before the first safety car stop,Charles Leclerc slipped back as he could not match the pace of Red Bull, Renault, and Racing Point.

A series of special events took place in Tuscany to mark Ferrari’s historic weekend. On Saturday after qualifying, the drivers and team principal headed for Florence’s Piazza della Signoria for a special evening. On Sunday before the race, the F2004 with which Michael Schumacher took his seventh title, his fifth with the Scuderia, was back on track. At the wheel was his son Mick Schumacher, himself a Ferrari Driver Academy student, currently second in the Formula 2 championship and he too had a special helmet for this occasion.

In line with Covid-19 restrictions, a limited number of fans – 2880 – were allowed into the grandstands to be witnesses to history.