Lewis Hamilton has won a Tuscan Grand Prix marred a number of frightening crashes in which only 12 cars finished.
Hamilton celebrated his 90th Formula One win, one short of Ferrari great Michael Schumacher's all-time record, after a crazy race on Sunday that twice had to be stopped and re-started.
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The six-times world champion’s Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas completed the Mercedes one-two in a crash-strewn race at the Ferrari-owned Mugello circuit north of Florence in central Italy.
Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, whose Dutch teammate Max Verstappen retired in the gravel after a second corner collision, took third place for his first career F1 podium.
The race was stopped eight laps in following a collision among back-markers who sped up too early when the safety car had peeled off with Bottas leading and controlling the pace.
Debris was scattered across the main straight after McLaren's Carlos Sainz piled into the back of Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi with Haas's Kevin Magnussen and Williams' Nicholas Latifi also caught up.
On-board footage showed a number of cars ploughing into the back of rivals at frightening speed.
“That was f****** stupid from whoever was at the front,” Haas driver Romain Grosjean said.
“Do they want to kill us or what? This is the worst thing I’ve seen, ever.”
Luckily none were injured.
“Oh my God, that was dangerous,” Sainz could be heard saying on team radio.
“Everyone in front of me thought the race was going and we were all flat out until someone realised the race was not on,” the Spaniard added after the race.
“It's definitely not a nice feeling to do 280km/h and suddenly find three cars in the middle of the straight.”
The safety car had been deployed initially after Italian Grand Prix winner Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri was launched into Max Verstappen's car after contact with Grosjean's Haas and Kimi Raikkonen's Alfa Romeo.
The retirement was Verstappen's second in a row and third of the season.
The front wing of Vettel's Ferrari was also damaged in contact with Sainz, his replacement at the Italian team next year.
The race was red-flagged again with 13 laps remaining when Canadian Lance Stroll crashed his Racing Point at the second Arrabbiata turn after a puncture, leaving the car a wreck.
As catastrophic as the crashes at the Tuscan Grand Prix were, it’s worthy of marvel that these cars are so well engineered that nobody sustained any sort of injury. Those crashes were shocking and horrific, but everyone walked away. Good Job F1 on their car safety.— Gavri’el HaCohen גבריאל הכהן ✡️🕎 (@GavrielHacohen) September 13, 2020
The onboard 📹 shot from #CarlosSainz showed a horrific shots, it was very dangerous to see how the #F1 drivers escaped such an accidents 😱😲😳... @F1 show investigate & note such incidents doesn't occur in future #TuscanGP 🇮🇹 https://t.co/cesIqmwINO— Sahitya S. Shikrenayak (@sahityashikre) September 13, 2020
Happy they all walked away, this could have been devastating 🙏— JDiLuci 🌺🌊🌺🌊🌺 (@JDNewEngland) September 13, 2020
Lewis Hamilton moves closer to Schumacher record
Hamilton’s sixth win in nine races this season sent him 55 points clear of Bottas, with eight rounds remaining, and the Briton also took an extra point for fastest lap at a circuit making its F1 debut.
“It was all a bit of a daze. It was like three races in one day,” gasped Hamilton, who finished 4.880 seconds clear of Bottas for a record 222nd points finish in a race with three standing starts.
“All those restarts, the focus that's needed during that time, it's really, really hard,” said the Briton, who started on pole but lost out to Bottas initially.
He turned the tables at the first standing re-start and retained the lead at the second.
The race was Ferrari's 1000th championship grand prix but the best the sport's most successful team could manage was eighth for Charles Leclerc while team mate Sebastian Vettel finished 10th.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo was fourth for Renault, after looking good for a first podium since he joined the French team from Red Bull at the end of 2018, with Racing Point's Mexican Sergio Perez fifth and McLaren's Lando Norris sixth.
Mercedes, celebrating their 100th win in the modern era, are now 152 points clear of second-placed Red Bull in the constructors' standings.