Not always does one see a race so saddled by accidents as determined by pure race. The ninth round of the 2020 Formula 1 season saw the contingent arrive at the land of Renaissance, as Italy gave us yet another contest to remember, albeit not one that could, in any way, have been predicted.
As one saw yet another triple-header, but one that ended with a Lewis Hamilton win, the ninetieth of the stalwart’s racing career, Mugello might have produced a Mercedes victory, but ensured that key highlights belonged to moments beyond the speculations of any racing pundit.
Such as both Ferrari’s ending inside points in the struggling team’s 1000th Grand Prix, Max retiring for the third time this season albeit bringing up his first back-to-back DNF (starting Monza), or for that matter, Daniel Ricciardo notching up the drive of the day, even as he failed to re-catch the valiant Alex Albon.
But a race that was just as thrilling in the end with Hamilton first coming under pressure from Bottas, whom he’d defy by over 4 points in the end, was equally thrilling from the start, with several retirements occurring inside the opening lap.
Nano-seconds after Lewis Hamilton, who clawed his way to a sensational 95th pole on Saturday, lost his place to a charging Valtteri Bottas (even before turn 1), the back of the field came to tangle in the run down to the first chicane.
It was mayhem at the start, one that would eventually result in several eventual retirements, Verstappen, Grosjean, Sainz, Raikkonen, Vettel, and Gasly all collecting damage as part of a strange skirmish in this twisty track.
But what moments, thereafter, defined the context and fortune of the maiden Tuscan GP?
5 Big Moments From The Maiden Tuscan Grand Prix
No fewer than 8 retirements
Not that safety car deployments fail to make a contest a level-playing field. But what followed the imposition of the first safety car at Mugello was in no way funny and left a rather scary after-thought for there was yet more drama to follow immediately.
As if the shocking retirement of Verstappen, who took a big hit in the gearbox wasn’t enough, the period after the Safety car went out was marked by yet more action reminiscent of a John Wick gun-slinging motion picture.
Max and last week’s winner Gasly had already retired, leaving 18 cars on the grid.
On Lap 6, with much of the grid weaving deliberately to kick in some temperature in the tyres, there was absolute chaos owing to an unforeseeable and utterly weird string of crashes that took place in the midfield.
Kevin Magunussen apparently too slow at the restart, possibly due to Bottas, out in the lead taking his own sweet time to get going, prompted the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi to run into the Haas’ rear. Even as Nicholas Latifi took immediate corrective action, avoiding Magnussen by a split-second as he shunted his Williams onto the left, he’d be collected by the crashing Alfa Romeo. Three more drivers consumed at the re-start.
But was that all?
As a result of the sudden bump in fortunes of several drivers, the man who emerged P2 at Monza too, found himself dragged into the unanticipated tussle. What was scary was to see Sainz emerging with a shaky right-hand. Had the incident been any more serious and we could’ve seen something gross at Formula 1’s maiden run at Mugello.
The entire drama prompted the race to be red-flagged, for the second time in a row this season.
But finally, as the action again got underway on Lap 10, it was business-as-usual for Lewis Hamilton, who’d retake the lead, going wide outside of Bottas on Turn 1, storming to the track position exhibiting unfettered authority out in the lead.
With Bottas in second and Ricciardo looking ever so resilient, it was going to be a cracker of 49 laps. And so it was.
Although, Renault lost Ocon in the red-flag period owing to a mechanical malfunction.
So close, yet so far for George Russell
George Russell finished eleventh (P11) in the race, his first-ever taste of going racing at the land of Tuscan wines, which, one reckons, he must get some measure of having driven yet another commanding race, where he started the race from eighteenth on the grid.
Even though he couldn’t make to his first points in Formula 1, having looked at one stage so capable of getting there, as he positioned himself on ninth upon the second restart, Russell drove a race to remember.
The sentimental favorite of the day, the young British driver, didn’t have the race pace to challenge the Alfa Romeos and struggled against Vettel in the en
But his fans may surely have loved that bold move on the outside of Grosjean on the straights to execute a clean overtake, one of the defining moments of the 2020 Tuscan GP.
A driver who, they say, may soon find himself in Bottas’ seat, seeing that determination and consistency, George Russell’s best days are clearly in front of him.
Leclerc the saving grace for Ferrari
The 1000th Grand Prix is quite a massive occasion for any team, and obviously calls for something massive when it concerns the most popular marquee in Formula 1’s checkered history.
And even though, Ferrari didn’t quite experience a massive moment, none of the drivers managing to collect a podium, having known the team’s woes this season, it was quite a relief to finally spot both Leclerc and Vettel inside the top ten.
While on his part, Leclerc, who stormed to a memorable fifth in Qualifying a day earlier would feel a chance lost given his eventual race position (P8), it wasn’t too atrocious for Sebastian Vettel, who claimed a tenth (P10).
But this was not before Vettel losing a part of his front wing of the SF 1000 early on after which he’d find a way to soldier on until the end.
Leclerc, on the other hand, found himself in business, breaking into the top-three all thanks to sensational acrobatics around the outside of Verstappen inside Lap 1.
But the fine race-pace with fresh tyres at the start would soon wither away, the Ferrari driver pitting twice even before half-way time to explain just some of his difficulties.
But emerging on top of his teammate, yet again, shouldn’t hurt so much- right?
Raikkonen finally gets off the mark
Going point-less in eight Grands Prix before he arrived at the very venue where he’d first tested an F1 car (back in 2000), Kimi Raikkonen finally scored some this season this weekend.
And what a mighty long wait it has been for the oldest man on the grid to finally get underway?
But once again, the only Alfa Romeo running in contention of scoring points, it didn’t take long for Kimi to prove why he’s still got it; moving up on George Russell upon the second restart, but not before he emerged unscathed despite losing some bodywork in the opening lap scramble.
The latter half of the incident-marred Grand Prix saw a quicker, more resolute Raikkonen, who despite finding himself strapped with a 5-second time penalty owing to making his way to the pits when the window wasn’t open, wasn’t going to yield.
Much better on the daunting Mugello straights than he’d been at Monza, Kimi sandwiched the two Ferraris in the end, and emerged ahead of his former Ferrari teammate.
At one point it did seem the Alfa Remeo was all set to get Daniil Kvyat’s Alpha Tauri but the Russian Torpedo held on well to defy Kimi with only a few laps to go.
Nonetheless, the unflustered Iceman would see the Tuscan GP drive as a win-win and shall now even see the remainder of the season at scoring some more points, his qualifying pace supporting his talent and endeavor.
A day Alexander Albon shall never forget
Alexander Albon arrived at the maiden Tuscan GP with a mighty fine qualifying performance where he claimed a strong fourth (P4) in qualifying, landing himself just behind teammate Max Verstappen.
But in the latter part of the race, as more and more drama and thrill livened up the Mugello contest, Albon raised his game, vying eventually for that podium spot.
His awesome move over third-placed Daniel Ricciardo with the Thai-British driver going wide outside the Aussie saw the Red Bull driver claim the third spot on the grid, a position which he’d tightly hold onto as if his life depended on it and truth be told, in the context of his Red Bull future, it even did.
But while glory belonged to Lewis Hamilton, who claimed the Grand Slam of this entertaining Grand Prix, the most glorious moment, it could be said, belonged to Albon for his brave third, his patience finally rewarded in the end.
Lest it is forgotten, this was the second race where Albon’s was the only Red Bull that finished the race, with Max retiring. Does that tell us something about Albon being a dependable driver- not too hard to guess, right?