Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 November 2020

Lewis Hamilton 'exhausted' after winning chaotic Tuscan Grand Prix

Mercedes driver victorious again after coming through crash-littered race unscathed to extend his lead in the drivers' championship

Lewis Hamilton won a chaotic, crash-littered Tuscan Grand Prix on Sunday, extending his lead at the top of the Formula One drivers' championship.

Reigning champion Hamilton finished ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to claim his 90th F1 victory in a race which only 12 drivers finished, moving the Briton to within one win of equalling Michael Schumacher's all-time record.

Hamilton, 35, is now on 190 points, some 55 ahead of Bottas and is also on course this season to equal Schumacher's record of seven world titles after claiming his sixth win in nine races this year.

Alex Albon finished third, claiming his first podium finish for Red Bull, after a thrilling drive to compensate his team for the early exit of Max Verstappen in the first of two multi-car collisions in a race of three Safety Car interventions.

Hamilton got away poorly from pole position and lost the lead to Bottas, but the safety car was deployed after just two corners when Pierre Gasly became the meat in a Kimi Raikkonen-Grosjean sandwich.

Verstappen, who was sliding back through the pack after losing power, was punted from behind. He ended up in the gravel with Gasly.

Sebastian Vettel also lost his front wing after he could do little to avoid a spinning Sainz.

The race was first stopped on lap nine following a jaw-dropping four-car pile-up.

Bottas was controlling the pace to avoid Hamilton from getting a slipstream into the opening corner.

But the drivers behind were too eager to get on the accelerator pedal. In the middle of the pack, rookie Nicholas Latifi jumped on the gas but then had to brake dramatically.

A concertina effect followed with Antonio Giovinazzi slamming into the back of the Williams driver. McLaren's Carlos Sainz then hit Giovinazzi with the Italian driver sent airborne.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was also taken out, fortunately, the quartet escaped without injury.

"That was stupid from whoever was at the front," Romain Grosjean yelled over the radio. "They want to kill us or what? This is the worst thing I have ever seen."

The first red-flag period led to a standing start but after a poor getaway first-time round, Hamilton made no mistake on the second, moving into Bottas' slipstream before assuming the lead round the outside of the opening bend.

At the front, Hamilton was in control and looked on course for an easy win after building up a seven-second lead over Bottas – but on lap 43 the race was stopped for a second time.

Lance Stroll lost control of his Racing Point through the second Arrabbiata, and crashed into the tyre wall. Stroll, running fourth, sustained serious damage to his car in the accident – which was caused by a left-front puncture – but the Canadian emerged unscathed from his cockpit.

Stroll's stricken car was removed, the tyre barrier was repaired, and after a 23-minute stoppage, there was a third standing-start on this most frenetic of afternoons.

Hamilton raced away from his blocks to retain his lead but Bottas slipped behind Daniel Ricciardo. The Finn made it back past Ricciardo on the next lap but his best chance of beating Hamilton to the flag was over.

"Definitely one of the craziest races I have had," Hamilton said. "Three races in one day. I am pretty exhausted to be honest. Obviously I didn't do a good start first time. The second start was better. I had a seven second gap and was pretty comfortable with that gap. Then another one.

"Anything can happen from those starts. If I made any mistakes he would have had the slipstream on me on the straight. Physically and mentally it was one of the hardest days I have experienced. It is an incredible circuit. I would like to come back."

The race took two hours and 25 minutes to complete, with the spells behind the Safety Car adding up to 76 minutes.

Updated: September 13, 2020 09:04 PM

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