A 1-2 finished at Imola ensured Mercedes AMG F1 of yet another Constructors World Championship title. Lewis Hamilton took victory, with Bottas second and Ricciardo scoring a second consecutive and surprising podium for Renault.
The beautifully old-school track of Imola provided excitement as of the start, with the narrow track making it look like a traffic jam across the field, as the entire fields tried to work their way cleanly through Turn 2, the left hander at Tamburello.
Bottas was first to dive in there after a solid start, followed by Verstappen. Hamilton lost a position to third, and while defending to Gasly on the right, he was also initially undear threat from Ricciardo. The Renault driver didn't make it past the Mercedes, but slotted into 4th.
Gasly had to back off a little but slotted into the queue ahead of Leclerc, only to retire on lap 9 with a "terminal situation on the car". This moved Albon up into 6th and Kvyat in 7th. Both McLarens followed up, with Sainz making his way past Norris on lap 6.
Further back, Vettel bumped Magnussen into a spin on the first lap, both escaping without damage. Stroll meanwhile was a bit too enthousiastic as well and broke his front wing on Ocon's right rear, requiring him to make a stop for a new nose cone and a tyre change to the hard compound Pirellis.
A large series of pitstops followed between lap 12 and 18, with most drivers switching to hard tyres. Both McLarens opted to go for mediums.
When Verstappen pitted for hard tyres on lap 18, Mercedes responded by pitting Bottas while Hamilton quickly went on to set a fastest lap, saying to his engineer "I'm picking up the pace now, don't stop me". In fact, while Bottas was told laps later he had floor damage, Hamilton kept on lapping faster, discussing with his engineer if they could extend the first stint another 10 laps.
By lap 28, Hamilton had 26.5s in hand over Bottas, with Verstappen around a second behind the second Mercedes. Next up are Vettel, Raikkonen and Latifi, all going for a longer first stint on mediums as they too hadn't pitted yet.
One lap later, Ocon retired from the race at Variante Alta, and after 30 seconds of yellows, the race directory decided to start a virtual safety car period, right at the time when Hamilton came up to the pitlane. Hamilton pitted and switched to hard tyres, and emerged as leader with still 4 seconds in hand. The VSC coincidentally ended moments later.
Hamilton subsequently eased away from Bottas and Verstappe, where it became ever more clear that Bottas struggled more and more, and Verstappen seemed to have a lot more pace in hand. Having fended off some overtaking attempts before, Bottas's wide exit out of Rivazza at lap 43 was one too many, and Verstappen made perfect use of the next DRS zone to move up into P2.
On lap 50, Magnussen pitted to retire from the race, with moments later Raikkonen pitting for a switch to soft tyres. The Finn was running in 4th thanks to a very long first stint on medium tyres. Raikkonen rejoined in 12th, one second behind Russel, who on his turn was 10s behind 10th placed Lando Norris.
Sadly for the Finn, just two laps later, Verstappen crashed out after an apparent right rear tyre failure. The safety car that came up next was exactly what Raikkonen need to make a surprise finish.
During the SC, many pitted, including third placed Perez, who as a result dropped to 6th. Hamilton and Bottas also pitted without position losses, bringing Ricciardo up into third, ahead of Leclerc and Albon, as those three opted not to pit, and continue on their hard tyres.
Moments later, Russell crashed out from behind the safety car, spinning off as he tried to warm up his rear tyres. The Williams driver was at the time in tenth place. Kimi Raikkonen, who followed just behind, therefore moved up into 10th.
Also at the same time, Lance Stroll came in too quickly into the pit box and hit the front jack man. The Canadian excused himself, but that certainly wasn't one of his finest moments. An anonymous race for him today continues in last place.
The SC left the track on lap 58, and it was action all over again, as Perez immediately went past Albon. The Red Bull driver then stepped on the throttle too early and spun off, leaving him at the back of the pack, rather than in a solid points scoring position. The Red Bull driver pitted to attempt fastest lap, but another flyer from Lewis Hamilton denied him that one.
Kvyat then moved up into 4th, making his way past Leclerc as the Ferrari driver then soon got company from Perez in the pink Racing Point. The Russian put the pressure on Ricciardo in the closing laps, but the Australian kept calm and secured Renault's second podium of the season.
This 1-2 for Mercedes secured the team's Constructors Championship, as an image from after the race revealed how Bottas had to cope with a handicapped car as a piece of Ferrari debris was stuck in his car for nearly the entire race.
|4||26||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri Honda||63||+15.141s||12|
|6||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point Bwt Mercedes||63||+19.652s||8|
|7||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||63||+20.230s||6|
|8||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||63||+21.131s||4|
|9||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||63||+22.224s||2|
|10||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||63||+26.398s||1|
|11||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||63||+27.135s||0|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point Bwt Mercedes||63||+29.163s||0|
|14||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||63||+32.935s||0|
|15||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing Honda||63||+57.284s||0|
|NC||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||51||DNF||0|
|NC||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||50||DNF||0|
|NC||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||47||DNF||0|
|NC||10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda||8||DNF||0|
Grosjean received a 5-second time penalty for exceeding track limits.