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I am lucky to be alive, says Hamilton after rival’s tyre landed on his head

BOITUMELO RANTAO

THE rear right wheel of his rival’s car landed on the safety Halo, just above his head, and seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who escaped with a headache, knows that he is lucky to be alive.

There was drama in Lap 26 of the Monda F1 race when Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen battled into the tight Variante del Rettifilo. Hamilton had just pitted and Verstappen was making his way to the front after a horrific 11 second pit stop.

With none of the drivers prepared to give room, Verstappen car ended on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes, ending the race for both drivers.

Hamilton said: “It’s days like today, I am reminded of how lucky I am. It takes a millisecond to go from racing to a very scary situation. Today someone must have been looking down, watching over me! #TeamLH: I’m so thankful for each and everyone of you, you are truly the best. Still we rise!”

The world champion added: “Obviously disappointing for me to end the race in the manner that it did. I though the Team did a great job with the strategy, and we were in a good position until that collision on Lap 26. From what I remember, after I came out of the pits, I saw Max coming and I made sure I left a car’s width on the outside for him. I went into Turn 1 and I was ahead, and I was ahead going into Turn 2, and then all of a sudden, he was on top of me. All in all, not a great end to the weekend for me but it was good to see that Valtteri carried the Team with his amazing recovery drive. Coming from the back all the way to the podium on a track like this is not easy. The Team did a great job and coming away with more points than Red Bull is definitely positive.”

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: “The Halo definitely saved Lewis’ life. I don’t even want to think about if we wouldn’t have had the Halo.”

This is what Verstappen said about the accident: “We were racing for position today but you need two people to work together to make the corner and Lewis just kept squeezing until there wasn’t room anymore for two cars and that’s when we crashed. When he exited the pits, he started to squeeze me going into Turn 1 so I had to use the green part of the track. It was very tight but there was room for me to go around the outside and then I was pushed onto the orange sausage kerb. I was there to try and race hard but fair. I don’t fully agree with the penalty as I believe it was a racing incident. It’s very unfortunate what happened today but we are both professionals and so we will move on.”

The FIA stewards found against Verstappen and handed him a three place grid penalty. The incident marks the first occasion that Verstappen and Hamilton have both failed to finish the same race.

The dramatic crash competed for attention with the historic feat by McLaren who achieved their first win in nine years and first double podium in 11 years. 

Daniel Ricciardo did a “shoey”’, drinking champagne out of his boot, after he led every lap and recorded his victory. He dramatically overtook Red Bull’s Max Verstappen going into the first corner of the first lap and held on to win the race, which was characterised by high drama and five “DNFs”.

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Riccardo’s teammate Lando Norris, drove like the rising star he is, and held on to finish behind Ricciardo. Through the first half of the race, Norris had to fend off seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton who started in fourth.

SHOEY MOMENT: McLaren boss Zack Brown enjoys a “special drink ” of champagne from race winner Daniel Ricciardo’s shoe. Pic: Supplied

Riccardo’s first podium and his maiden win for McLaren earned him driver of the day and he was beyond excited with his achievement.

The Australian driver’s first words after he had taken the chequered flag were: “For anyone who thought I left – I never left. I just moved aside for a while.”

Later in an interview, he said: “About time. It worked well for me yesterday and to be honest even if we got the start it was never a guarantee we’d lead the whole race. I was able to just hold firm out front [in] the first stint. I don’t think we had mega speed but it was enough to keep Max [Verstappen] behind.

“To lead literally from start to finish – I don’t think any of us expected that. There was something in me on Friday – I knew something good was to come.”

Verstappen remains three points ahead of Hamilton in the world championship table. 

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Valterri Bottas, in his last season for Mercedes, drove like a man possessed. He started from the back of the grid and earned the last place on the podium, which he got after Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who crossed the line in third, lost two places because of a five second penalty.

Ferrrari were competitive in their home race but did not pose a threat whatsoever to the front runners. 

RESULTS:

PosDriverTimePts
1D. RicciardoMcLaren·#31:21:54.36527
2L. NorrisMcLaren·#4+1.747s18
3V. BottasMercedes·#77+4.921s18
4C. LeclercFerrari·#16+7.309s12
5S. PérezRed Bull·#11+8.723s10
6C. Sainz Jr.Ferrari·#55+10.535s8
7L. StrollAston Martin·#18+15.804s6
8F. AlonsoAlpine·#14+17.201s4
9G. RussellWilliams·#63+19.742s2
10E. OconAlpine·#31+20.868s1

By The African Mirror

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