Emilia Romagna GP: Bottas falters, Hamilton dominates, Merc champs

Lewis Hamilton racked up his 93rd Formula 1 victory on Sunday, winning the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix comfortably after the challenge from his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas fizzled out when the Finn damaged his car early in the race.

The result confirming Mercedes as 2020 F1 constructors’ champions for the seventh time in a row.

From pole, Valtteri took the lead as Lewis was slow off the one, dropping to third behind the feisty Red Bull of Max Verstappen who grabbed second, splitting the front row starters.

It remained this way until the leading Mercedes pitted early to defend an undercut by Max. It worked as the black car emerged ahead of the blue one after their stops, but Lewis stayed out and did so for another 15 laps and setting fastest lap’s in the process as he engineered the overcut perfectly.

A VSC around his pitstop window played into the champ’s hands.

Lewis stopped and emerged in the lead while Valtteri struggled with floor damage which allowed Max to close in and overtake before the Red Bull’s right rear-tyre exploded to bring out the safety car.


This, in turn, changed the script of the race for some, George Russell – who was running in the points – lost it behind the safety car. The kid was devastated.

The next casualty was Alex Albon, running fourth at the frantic restart, he was caught out when the backend of the Red Bull stepped out and that was that. What might have been a podium went begging for the Thai driver. Excuses for this one from his team will be interesting.

Back at the sharp end, the black cars led nose-to-tail with third place up for grabs, for someone other than Max, as they spent several laps behind the safety car. Once unleashed, Lewis kept ahead and stayed there until the end, winning by 5.7 seconds.

Lewis said afterwards, “It was an exhausting race, the speed we were having to go. I had a poor start and it’s just very overwhelming right now.

“I look at my crew, this team here, and I know all the guys and girls back at the factory and Brixworth, they are the unsung heroes. They are the ones who have grafted away and never given up. Just continued to push and elevate and innovate.

“People watching may feel we’re used to this, but it always feels like the first with this team and that’s because of the spirit. So I’m forever grateful to be a part of it and breaking a record like this. No one has ever done it before.

“It’s unbelievable… Seven-times champs, that’s something I’m going to be able to tell my grandchildren one day,” he added.

Bottas gave his side of the story, “I think [the damage] made quite a big impact today. The start was good, that was one of the main things to get right today.

“Out of Turn Seven there was the debris, I didn’t have time to avoid it – I saw it in the middle of the car, I tried not to run over it with the tyres but obviously it caused some damage that made the car tricky to drive.

“I was pushing hard to avoid Max getting through. I had to push over all of my limits which led to a few mistakes. Unlucky.”

Mercedes thus wrapped up their seventh successive F1 constructors’ championship; they are 2020 Formula 1 World Champions yet again. The double at iconic media a memorable venue to do the deed, for the sport’s perfect team.

Behind the Mercs, Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri), Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and Sergio Perez Racing Point) had survived the attrition and were slugging it out for the final podium step with the finish in sight.

But Daniel kept his head and scored a second podium in a row for Renault. A second tattoo for Cyril Abiteboul?

The big smiling Aussie said afterwards, “It was a bizarre one, I’m not sure what happened to Max but that put us in the fight for a podium. Kvyat had a charge late on but I managed to hold him back, it was fun out there! [Team boss] Cyril [Abiteboul] will not be getting another tattoo though.”

Kvyat was fourth, delivering a strong race on a day in which his AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly started from fourth on the grid but a technical issue sidelined him early.

Ferrari pride was saved by Leclerc once again with fifth place, followed by Perez. Notably, their respective teammates, Sebastien Vettel and Lance Stroll were out of the points. Both enduring, increasingly familiar, a bad day at the office.

McLaren duo Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris were seventh and eighth, ahead of Alfa Romeo pair of Kimi Raikkonen in ninth and Antonio Giovinazzi rounding out the top ten.

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