Lewis Hamilton avoided all incidents in an action-packed Tuscan Grand Prix that was red-flagged twice at Mugello, as well as setting the fastest lap.
The Briton finished ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, while Red Bull’s Alexander Albon joined the Mercedes duo on the podium – his first time in the top three in F1.
There was early drama as Bottas made the better start, getting ahead of his teammate, but Max Verstappen, who had a power unit issue on the grid, struggled to get away, leaving him down the order.
Pierre Gasly and Kimi Raikkonen tangled a couple of corners later, with the Finn also colliding with the back of Verstappen’s Red Bull, putting the Dutchman and last week’s race winner out of the race on the opening lap, and bringing out the safety car.
Romain Grosjean was also caught up in that incident, having been alongside Gasly when he and Raikkonen touched. The Haas driver was sent into the gravel, but managed to keep his car moving and rejoined the track.
In a separate incident, Carlos Sainz spun after being tagged by Lance Stroll, and Sebastian Vettel clipped the McLaren while trying to avoid contact, leaving him with a broken front wing.
The safety car was out for several laps, and eventually pulled back into the pit lane, leaving Bottas to control the pace at the front of the field.
The Mercedes driver took a slow approach to the restart, bunching up the field, particularly towards the back of the pack. The pace triggered a massive shunt towards the rear of the field, as Kevin Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Nicholas Latifi and Sainz all came together, sending Sainz and Magnussen into the wall, while Giovinazzi and Latifi came to a standstill further on after both being left a wheel short.
The level of debris on the track resulted in a red flag for the second race in a row, just nine laps into the race. While proceedings were halted, Renault announced Esteban Ocon wouldn’t be able to take the restart due to a braking issue, leaving just 13 drivers in the race.
Hamilton’s brakes were smoking on the grid, but the reigning champion made a lightning fast start, getting ahead of his teammate at the first turn. Albon struggled off the line, losing out to both Racing Points and Daniel Ricciardo.
Charles Leclerc sat third at the restart, and held on to the final podium position for several laps before starting to fall back, with Stroll, Ricciardo and Albon all passing him in quick succession. The Ferrari man defended hard to try to keep Sergio Perez behind as well, but couldn’t hold off the Mexican, resulting in him making an earlier than expected pitstop for fresh tyres.
At the front of the field, Bottas instructed the team to give him different tyres to Hamilton at the pitstops, giving him a chance to challenge his teammate towards the end of the race. After complaining of vibrations, Bottas came in to the pits for hard tyres, while Hamilton continued at the front for a further lap. However, when bringing Hamilton into the pitlane, Mercedes also put hards on the championship leader’s car.
In the battle for the final spot on the podium, Ricciardo pitted ahead of Stroll, and made the undercut work to gain a position. Norris had passed Perez on track prior to coming into the pits, but dropped back a couple of positions after being caught up in traffic in the pitlane.
Raikkonen also had a slow pitstop, as there seemed to be come confusion amongst his mechanics, keeping the 2007 champion stationary for over 12 seconds.
The safety car was out again with 15 laps remaining as Stroll reported feeling a puncture, before being his car spun, sending him at high speed into the tyre barrier, and ultimately leading to a second red flag period.
Bottas lost out at the restart as Ricciardo got ahead off the line, but the Mercedes driver fought back, slipstreaming past the Renault to regain second, with the Australian soon coming under pressure from Albon behind, and the Thai driver soon passed with a move around the outside of turn one, looking to secure his first F1 podium.
Towards the back of the field, George Russell pressed for the first points of his F1 career, sitting around six seconds adrift of eighth-placed Raikkonen, who had a five-second time penalty for a pitlane entry infringment. The Williams driver had both Ferraris ahead of him in the final two points positions, and tried to close the gap to Vettel, but he couldn’t quite get close enough, just missing out on a spot in the top 10.
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
3. Alexander Albon (Red Bull)
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
5. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
6. Lando Norris (McLaren)
7. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri)
8. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
9. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
10. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
11. George Russell (Williams)
12. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
Esteban Ocon (Renault)
Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
Max Verstappen (Red Bull)