LEWIS Hamilton scored the 90th win of his Formula 1 career, but the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello was a fiery affair, peppered with crashes, two red flags and, for Daniel Ricciardo, a fine fourth place after starting from 8th on the grid.
Hamilton finished nearly 5 seconds clear of Valtteri Bottas in the other Mercedes with Alexander Albon third.
Hamilton also got a bonus point for the fastest lap to increase his lead in the drivers’ standings to 55 points.
Only 12 cars finished.
The race was stopped on the first of its 59 laps when Max Verstappen in the Red Bull had a power unit failure on the start line that dropped from third on the grid to the back.
Here he fell victim to a collision between last week’s Italian Grand Prix winner Pierre Gasly and Kimi Raikkonen, and was then tagged into the litter by Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo.
Out came the safety car, but seconds after the race got underway again, there was another massive pile-up midfield – and the race was red-flagged for the second consecutive week.
Out of action after the crash were Latifi in the Williams, Magnussen (again) in the Haas, Alfa Romeo’s Giovinazzi and Carlos Sainz in the McLaren.
Valtteri Bottas was controlling the pace to prevent Hamilton from getting into his slipstream into the opening corner.
But the split-second delay between Bottas trying to keep Hamilton a bay and the green lights coming on had the drivers behind on full throttle, resulting in a domino effect that took a quartet of them out — and led Haas’s Romain Grosjean to accuse Bottas of “wanting to kill” him.
Sainz exclaimed: “Oh my god, that was dangerous” after his McLaren sent Latifi’s Williams flying.
“When suddenly you go to 250km/h and you find cars stopped in the middle of the track, it is a very, very dangerous situation that should not be repeated,” he said later.
“What is clear is that in the rear half of the grid we thought the race had been restarted, or someone has believed it, and then we had to brake and there was a domino effect.”
Grosjean was more explicit: “That was f***ing stupid from whoever was at the front,” the Frenchman yelled over the radio.
“They want to kill us or what? This is the worst thing I have ever seen.”
After the second re-start, Hamilton was on course for an easy win after building up a strong lead over Bottas, but on lap 43 the race was stopped again.
A front tyre of Lance Stroll’s Racing Point blew and the Canadian crashed heavily into the tyre wall.
The race was red-flagged once more, and at the re-start Ricciardo made a blinder of a getaway, shooting past Bottas and Albon to snatch second place.
However, Bottas got past again on the next lap and Red Bull’s Albon battled his way past Ricciardo with eight laps remaining.
Ricciardo finished fourth, ahead of Sergio Perez in the Racing Point and Lando Norris in the surviving McLaren.
Seventh came Daniil Kvyat in an Alpha Tauri, and Charles Leclerc inherited 8th for Ferrari after Kimi Raikkonen was hit with a five-second penalty for his part in the first of the shunts.
That put Raikkonen 9th, with the final point going to Sebastien Vettel in the other Ferrari.
It was Ferrari’s 1000th race, and not its most illustrious with 8th and 10th places.
Ricciardo took the chequered flag just 2.3 seconds away from third place.
“I’m really happy with today’s race and we’re so close to the podium again,” the Australian ace said.
“It was a long day, a long race with the stoppages and incidents, but the main thing is that all the drivers are okay.
“It looked like we were on for third towards the end of the race, so it’s a shame to come so close.
“We got Valtteri [Bottas], but he and Alex [Albon] were just too quick to hold on.
“It hurts not to be on the podium after that, but fourth is still a big result.”
Teammate Esteban Ocon retired early with his car’s rear brakes on fire.
Team principal Cyril Abiteboul neatly summed up Renault’s feelings:
“It’s good to be disappointed with fourth,” he said.
“Daniel drove a great race to finish where he did.
“It’s also been a fantastic first event at Mugello, a great track for the drivers and their machines.”
Next round is at Russia’s Sochi Autodrom on September 27.
|3||23||RED BULL RACING HONDA||59||+8.064s||15|
|5||11||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||59||+15.650s||10|
|9||7||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||59||+29.770s||2|
|NC||18||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||42||DNF||0|
|NC||99||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||5||DNF||0|
|NC||33||RED BULL RACING HONDA||0||DNF||0|
Note – Hamilton scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Raikkonen received a 5-second time penalty for crossing the line at pit entry.
CHECKOUT: Ricciardo’s take on a modern Mugello