Chaos, Heartbreak and Triumph. These could perhaps be the three words best used to describe the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas crossed the line first and second to secure Mercedes’ seventh consecutive world constructor’s championship which breaks the record for most consecutive world constructor’s championships. Joining the silver arrows at the podium was Daniel Ricciardo grabbing his second podium and this time the Aussie didn’t forget the ritual of the shoey and he even had the reigning world champion indulge in it as well.
The race started with the Mercedes in a front row lock out but after the first series of corners Hamilton dropped from second to third while Max Verstappen who all season long has been Mercedes’ fiercest competitor moved up into second place.
Giovinazzi who started from last on the grid at his home race preserved his long standing tradition of making up places on the opening lap. While he moved forwards several other drivers dropped backwards with Lance Stroll who has been having a terrible season since standing on the podium in Monza went all the way to the back as he was forced to pit due to front wing damage.
Within a few laps it was heartbreak for Pierre Gasly who was forced to retire from the race due to issues related to cooling fluids in his car, having been stellar throughout the weekend it felt an unfair turn of events. The next retirement was of fellow Frenchman Esteban Ocon who also succumbed to mechanical failure. This in turn triggered a safety car which fell beautifully into the hands of Lewis Hamilton.
Max Verstappen went into the pits early to attempt an undercut on race leader Valtteri Bottas whose race pace was compromised due to debris he’d collected in lap two. This prompted Bottas to pit in order to cover the threat of an undercut and Bottas came out of the pits ahead of the Dutchman. The two pitstops meant that Lewis Hamilton moved to P1 although he was yet to pit but instead of immediately driving to the pits the Briton opted to stay out and attempt an alternative strategy. It was during this time that Ocon retired triggering the virtual safety car thus affording him a cheap pitstop that allowed him to preserve first place.
Kevin Magnussen was the next of the retirees due to what is presumed to be a medical related as the driver complained of a headache during the race.
Bottas continued to struggle as the collected debris in his car which turned out to be an end-plate from Sebastian Vettel’s front wing compromised the Finn’s downforce and this came to a head when he strayed off the track a little bit providing Verstappen an opportunity to overtake, an opportunity that the Dutchman seized. Verstappen’s triumph however was short lived as his rear right tyre blew out suddenly sending him into the gravel trap and effectively ending his race. The safety car was deployed and several drivers dove into the pits to put on a set of fresh soft tyres while others opted to stay out and maintain track position. Sergio Perez who was running in third after Verstappen’s incident lost out as he was relegated to seventh while Daniel Ricciardo who opted not to pit was a beneficiary as he moved up to third.
The safety car was further extended as George Russell crashed into the barrier due to losing control of his car when trying to keep his tyres warm by swerving left and right. Russell had been in tenth place and was on course to his first formula 1 point when he crashed.
As the safety car ended Lewis Hamilton broke free from the pack while Daniil Kvyat who was now running in fourth was keeping third placed Ricciardo honest and he did so to the end of the race to finish in fourth place. The Russian who’s future in the sport seems yet to be determined made a case to Alpha Tauri to retain him with a great finish at the team’s home turf.
Further down the order Alex Albon‘s race wasn’t up to the standards of the Red Bull team and a few laps before the chequered flag he spun round and dropped all the way to the last of the classified runners further compounding his problems and making it seem less and less likely that he will retain his seat going into next year.
Whilst it may have been a heartbreaking race for Redbull as they failed to score a point in today’s race it was a triumphant one for Mercedes as they etched their name into the history books and further asserted their dominance.