NASCAR Race Weekend Central
Lewis Hamilton (Photo: ©Rolex/James Moy)

F1 Review: Lewis Hamilton Benefits from Red Flag Restart at the Tuscan Grand Prix

­Lewis Hamilton made the most of his do-over at the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix on Sunday (Sept. 13).  Racing for the first time on the track, Formula 1 enacted an unusual show for the second consecutive weekend and this time Hamilton made no errors.

Last weekend at Monza, Hamilton lost the race when a safety-car caution closed pit lane and he missed the signs and pitted anyway.  The ensuing penalty sent him to the back of the grid and he failed to find his way to the top spot again.

This weekend, Hamilton benefitted from a red-flag period.  Sitting in second place after losing the lead at the start to his teammate Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton made good on the second standing start that came at the quarter mark of the race.

Hamilton used the slipstream behind Bottas to pip his teammate into the first turn and then managed the race from there … until a second red flag came out on lap 44.

Lance Stroll suffered an unusual puncture that sent him off the track at Arrabiata 2.  The meaning of the name means spicy and angry and Stroll found himself in the unfortunate position of banging of the track in a terrible spot.

With his Racing Point ride destroyed, the track officials called for the second red flag – meaning that the Tuscan GP would be graced with a third standing start.

Hamilton made a clean getaway, Bottas bogged down, and Daniel Ricciardo moved into third heading into the first turn. From there, Hamilton cruised to win like he has so often done in his outstanding career.

With the win, Hamilton now has hit 90 and is one win away from tying Michael Schumacher for first all time.

For the season, Hamilton extended his points, having 190 to Bottas’ 135 – a two-margin and change.  Max Verstappen is third with 110 and Lando Norris is in fourth but whatever, his points total is about one-third of Hamilton’s and there is no way he is somehow winning the title.

The Race

To call this race peculiar would seem apt.  The writers of The Twilight Zone probably do not envision oddities like this one.  After going three years without a red flag, there have been three in the past two weeks and two at Mugello.

The first came shortly after the first-lap collision collected a group of drivers after Verstappen failed to get going.  His slide through the field brought a curious reaction from his competitors and the ensuring calamity sent him and Pierre Gasly out of the race.  Sebastian Vettel made it through but had to fetch himself a new front win.

Bottas, after stealing the top spot from Hamilton led the field after the safety-car period.  In his attempt to avoid Hamilton stealing the position, Bottas kept the field compacted and at minimum speed as the safety car pulled off. Though Bottas and Hamilton sped away cleanly, the back section of the field heeded the lights rather than the drivers in front of them and created a mess of carbon and metal on the front straight.

Some drivers complained that Bottas was to blame but Bottas did nothing that they would not do if they were in the lead.  The wreck collected Carlos Sainz, Nicholas Latifi, Antonio Giovinazzi, Kevin Magnussen, and Esteban Ocon.

Only eight laps into the race, the field had nearly been halved by attrition.

By the time that Hamilton again enjoyed crossing the line first, all the drama had been stolen away.  Hamilton continued on his record-setting career.  Bottas raced past Ricciardo and into second and stayed in that position.

Filling in for Verstappen, Alex Albon made his way to the podium for the first time in his career.  Ricciardo would up a respectable fourth with Sergio Perez finishing fifth.

Lando Norris managed to earn a sixth-place finish after a poor qualifying effort, while Daniil Kvyat took seventh. Charles Leclerc made Ferrari look somewhat respectable with his eighth-place finish and former Ferrari champion Kimi Raikkonen slotted in at ninth. Sebastian Vettel grabbed the last points-paying position, meaning that Ferrari actually gained double points for the first time in 2020

LEWIS HAMILTON WINS WRECK-FILLED TUSCAN GRAND PRIX

The Good

– Chalk this one up to looking at the brighter side of things.  If a driver managed to avoid both incidents in the first 12 laps of the race, then they stood an 83% chance of finishing in the points.  That’s great odds.  So hooray for chaos theory.

– While Williams may have failed to earn any points, they still look to be improving with George Russell taking 11th.

THE STEADY RISE OF WILLIAMS RACING

The Bad

– There’s nothing positive that comes from having two safety car stints in the first twelve laps.  While the allure of the new circuit likely added to the usual adrenaline flowing through a driver at a GP, the fact that the race came as the third on three-consecutive weekends may also have influenced things.

Whereas the Italian GP brought unexpected and fascinating results, the Tuscan GP showed that things rarely deviate from the norm for too long.  The week off before heading to Sochi will be a welcome time for everyone to clear their heads.

Kevin Magnussen, as of this posting, still has a job.  But Magnussen has now recorded five DNFs for Haas F1 this season.  His teammate Romain Grosjean has often been the target for scorn the past couple seasons, but Magnussen’s form is now certain to bring up questions – and possibly open a seat.  Perhaps for Sergio Perez?

– Charles Leclerc made a great start, twice, and managed to drive his Ferrari into the third spot.  And then the realization set in that he was driving a 2020 Ferrari and he fell through the field like Ferrari had forgotten to attach a spark plug.

Leclerc is not the problem.  But on what was supposed to be a glorious celebration of Ferrari’s 1000th race, the team found itself happy that it finished in the points.  The lovely maroon livery may have dazzled but the car continues to be nothing more than lackluster.

The Questionable

– Max Verstappen looked to be the car that triggered the first accident of the race.  Starting in the third position, Verstappen never reached the expected speed and he dropped through the field like he had half an engine.

Red Bull had quipped in recent weeks that something was amiss with their Honda engine and the mapping programs; a statement meant to indicate that Honda either needed to up their power output or something about the CPU is not meeting their expectations.

An instance like this one brings memories of the acrimony that developed between Red Bull and Renault when that latter supplied the power units.  While the two organizations have maintained friendly relations thus far, if this becomes a trend there is sure to be some wonder about Red Bull moving on.

Quotable

Charles Leclerc deserves credit for his honesty.  When describing his Ferrari he said, “we were just slow.”

On securing the first podium finish of his career, Thai-British driver Alex Albon said, “on the mediums, we were strong, so I knew the pace was there, but I was a bit afraid with another red flag as I was happy to be in that position. The Renault was strong at starts, Racing Point, too. It fired me up when we lost another position off the start, but I knew we had the pace.”

Valtteri Bottas offered a defiant explanation of his re-start that many thought created a dangerous accordion wreck.  “I’m not at all to blame for that. Everyone can look at everything they want but I was doing consistent speed until I went. Yes, I went late but we start racing from the control line, not before that, so the guys behind who crashed because of that, they can look in the mirror. There’s no point whining about it.

Tuscan Grand Prix Results – Mugello (Sept. 13)

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 59 2:19:35.060 26
2 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 59 +4.880s 18
3 23 Alexander Albon RED BULL RACING HONDA 59 +8.064s 15
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo RENAULT 59 +10.417s 12
5 11 Sergio Perez RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 59 +15.650s 10
6 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN RENAULT 59 +18.883s 8
7 26 Daniil Kvyat ALPHATAURI HONDA 59 +21.756s 6
8 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 59 +28.345s 4
9 7 Kimi Räikkönen ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 59 +29.770s 2
10 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 59 +29.983s 1
11 63 George Russell WILLIAMS MERCEDES 59 +32.404s 0
12 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 59 +42.036s 0
NC 18 Lance Stroll RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 42 DNF 0
NC 31 Esteban Ocon RENAULT 7 DNF 0
NC 6 Nicholas Latifi WILLIAMS MERCEDES 6 DNF 0
NC 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 5 DNF 0
NC 99 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 5 DNF 0
NC 55 Carlos Sainz MCLAREN RENAULT 5 DNF 0
NC 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 0 DNF 0
NC 10 Pierre Gasly ALPHATAURI HONDA 0 DNF 0

 

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About Ava Ladner

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As an editor, Ava works through some of the site’s biggest columns while writing one of her own on F1 each week. “Stranded” on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, the aspiring college professor also helps anchor other coverage while coordinating Pace Laps, our multi-series news update.

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