Lewis Hamilton spearheaded Mercedes claiming their record seventh consecutive constructors’ title at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, leading home team mate Valtteri Bottas and a delighted Daniel Ricciardo – but there was late race drama as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen retired from P2 after appearing to suffer a tyre issue, bringing out a Safety Car that led to a climactic race ending.
Bottas had enjoyed a strong start to the Imola race from pole position, leading into Turn 2 as Hamilton lost out to Verstappen on the run down to Tamburello on Lap 1 and moved to third.
But Mercedes’ decision to give Hamilton a long first stint paid dividends when Renault’s Esteban Ocon retired at the side of the track on Lap 29, the resultant Virtual Safety Car allowing Hamilton to pit from the lead – Bottas and Verstappen having boxed earlier in the race – and retain P1.
But with 12 laps to go, Verstappen’s retirement at Villeneuve led to a full Safety Car, setting up a breathless final few laps of the race, which ultimately saw Hamilton hold on to win out from Bottas, while Ricciardo secured his second podium of the season for Renault after holding off a late charge from AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, who finished a brilliant fourth as he fights for his F1 future.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc came home fifth, holding off the Racing Point of Sergio Perez, who’d gambled with a late stop under the Safety Car. The McLaren duo of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris claimed P7 and P8, while it was a fantastic day for Alfa Romeo, who took their first double points finish of the year, Kimi Raikkonen leading Antonio Giovinazzi in P9 and P10, the Finn having made a 49-lap stint work to his advantage.
Meanwhile, after a brilliant effort to qualify P4, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly suffered a coolant leak that forced him to retire from the race on Lap 8 – while in a bizarre incident, Williams’ George Russell spun into retirement under the Safety Car on Lap 53.
For Mercedes, though, there were scenes of jubilation, as they continued to re-write the F1 history books with an amazing seventh consecutive constructors’ title.