Art of winning: Lewis Hamilton sketched his 90th triumph in Tuscany, will he continue at Sochi?
After yet another win, though this time at classic Mugello, Hamilton is all set to equal Michael Schumacher’s giant tally of 91 wins. The German’s mighty haul has been undisturbed for all 14 years of the Briton’s career. And astonishingly, it could take a future challenger even longer to surpass his and Hamilton's accomplishments. Consistency has been the core strength of both these legend’s careers.
At the Tuscan Grand Prix, which was Ferrari’s 1000th Formula 1 race, Valtteri Bottas initially seemed to have dialled into the circuit’s non-stop, flat-out character, better than Hamilton. Having led all through Friday’s practice sessions which were the first for any F1 car at this venue, the Finn was marginally quicker through Q1, too. However, in the crucial Q3 phase of qualifying, Hamilton delivered the required lap time and sealed pole.
But Mugello’s long 1.141-kilometre pit straight disadvantaged the lead car as it offered a big slipstreaming opportunity into Turn 1. To make things worse for Hamilton, he had a mediocre start at the lights, quickly losing P1 to Bottas. Bottas’ lead though was short-lived, as a tussle involving the cars of Kimi Raikkonen, Pierre Gasly, Romain Grosjean and Max Verstappen brought out the Safety Car. But when the Safety Car peeled away and the race re-started, a dramatic crash further down the back brought out the red flag!
This crash saw a multiple wreck of cars that included Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Mclaren’s Carlos Sainz. The race was then re-started, and roles reversed when Hamilton now had Bottas’ tow into the first corner. He stole the lead back never to surrender it again.
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo seemed to be on the right strategy to hold onto P3 behind the Mercedes duo, but Red Bull’s Alex Albon was keen on stealing that final podium place. It was his time to shine in the spotlight as both, Pierre Gasly whom he replaced and Max Verstappen whose shadow he’s constantly under, were out of the running. Just when the race had settled into a familiar rhythm, on lap 42, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll went pummeling into the barriers. A puncture was suspected to be the cause and the race red-flagged again!
The championship moves to Sochi this weekend. Mercedes have mastered the art of winning there completely. It’s Russian roulette time Valtteri!