Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas enjoyed a near-perfect day for Mercedes, though Bottas might be left wondering what could've been. Alexander Albon secured third place after a strong final 10 laps following second race stoppage.
The Tuscan race at Mugello kicked off with Bottas taking the lead thanks to a solid start. This time, it was Hamilton who had a troubled start, though he still managed to maintain second place, despite lots of fighting going on behind him on the long run to the first corner.
Leclerc had a strong start up into third and benefited from an apparent issue on Verstappen's car. The Dutchman got off the line well, but soon lost accelleration and was down to 10th even before the first corner.
One corner later, Raikkonen got squeezed in between two others, causing the three of them to bump into Verstappen, and send him into the gravel trap to retire. Last week's winner Pierre Gasly was also involved and similarly got stuck in the gravel trap with nothing else to do but to retire.
Sainz also spun. He stayed on track and managed to get back into the action, though by that time, Vettel had clipped his front wing against the McLaren, requiring the Ferrari driver to pit for a new nose.
To clean up the mess, a safety car was brought out on track for the next 6 laps. Behind it, Bottas led the race, ahead of Hamilton, Leclerc, Albon, Stroll, Ricciardo, Perez, Norris, Kvyat and Ocon. Russell navigated well through the crashing cars and ended up 11th, followed by Magnussen, Latifi, Giovinazzi, Sainz, Grosjean, Raikkonen and Vettel.
On the restart, Bottas went slowly until the finish line, and accelerated from there on, leaving the pack close behind him.
In the back, this caused trouble as cars were acceleration before realising everybody ahead was braking again. Romain Grosjean came up on the radio saying "This is terrible from the guy in front. They want to kill us or what?". And there's truth in that, as the resulting crash involving Latifi, Magnussen, Giovinazzi and Sainz could've been terrible for some involved. All four retired, and with the damage left out on track, the race was stopped, and cars stopped in the pitlane.
During the stoppage, Ocon was withdrawn as Renault discovered a terminal issue on the rear brakes. This meant a restart with just 13 cars left and with Williams's Russell up in 10th, followed by Raikkonen, Vettel and Grosjean - who during this stoppage held the fastest race lap.
44 minutes after first start, the cars got moving again as they left the pitlane behind the safety car to take place on the starting grid for a standing start. The leading Mercedes notably switched to new sets of medium compound tyres, while the next 6 cars kept their softs. Kvyat switched from medium to new soft while Russel changed a set of used mediums to new mediums.
The restart saw nearly perfect getaways for everybody, and a position switch at the front as Hamilton's slipstream towars the first corner helped him to get past Bottas in Turn 1. Hamilton's brakes were notably smoking on the starting grid, indicating the Brit got them hot during the warmup lap to be able to brake later into Turn 1.
The first racing move came thanks to Daniel Ricciardo as he snuck past Perez at the end of the main straight. It moved the Renault driver up into 5th place while Leclerc and Stroll in front were already fighting each other for third.
On lap 18, Stroll eventually made it past Leclerc, dropping the Ferrari right into the path of Ricciardo. A single lap later, Ricciardo decisively made his was past Leclerc as well. Albon by than had cleared Perez and punched on to pass Leclerc, followed by Perez the next lap, leaving Leclerc in 7th.
The Ferrari driver pitted the next lap to switch to hard tyres and was soon seen passing Grosjean with a comfortable speed advantage.
Lap 28 saw a first "normal" pit stop as Ricciardo pitted to change to mediums. Almost everybody followed up in the next few laps, with Bottas the first Mercedes to pit. The Finn switched to hard tyres after reporting "front tyres are dead" and "vibrations are crazy". In the laps before that, Hamilton had extended his lead to 5.5s, up from the 2s that as the difference between them during most of the stint.
Hamilton pitted one lap after his teammate and similarly changed to hards, despite Bottas asking for an opposite tyre strategy. The Finn was later explained on the radio that the mediums from the previous stint weren't in a good enough condition anymore to be sure this compound would last for the even longer third stint.
With 15 laps left on the board, Stroll had a hard crash that completely relegated the pink Racing Point to the scrapyard. In what looked like a left-rear puncture in a high-speed right-hander, Stroll immediately lost control of his car and went into the tyre barriers, fortunately without personal harm.
After a single lap behind the safety car in which most pitted, the race was red-flagged again. The stoppage was once again quite lengthy, and before getting started again, Raikkonen and Grosjean were sent out first to allow them to unlap themselves.
Next up was another standing start after a warmup lap. This time, everybody had switched to sets of used soft tyres to complete the remaining 11 laps.
This time, Hamilton had a great start again, with Ricciardo moved up into second spot, ahead of Bottas. Bottas would sort that out one lap later, but it did mean that Hamilton was unthreatened at the start.
Albon meanwhile punched past Perez and soon went on his way to challenge Ricciardo. On lap 50, the Red Bull driver passed the Renault round the outside of Turn 1. In fact, Albon soon also reduced his deficit to Bottas while Ricciardo was simply unable to match Albon's pace. Bottas had none of it though, and responded with fastest lap to instead put the pressure on his race-leading teammate.
At the back, Russell had a bad restart and dropped down from 9th to 12th. The Williams driver soon passed Grosjean again, but then faced an uphill battle against Vettel in 10th and Raikkonen in 8th, who, thanks to a penalty, would get 5s added to his finishing time.
At the very end, Hamilton took fastest lap and eased to victory as Bottas backed off to settle for second. Albon completed the podium and Ricciardo once again just missed out on a podium finish.
|3||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing Honda||59||+8.064s||15|
|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|
|9||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||59||+29.770s||2|
|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||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|