Lewis Hamilton completed a remarkable recovery drive to finish on the podium despite finding himself running last on lap five after an action-filled start to the race.
Valtteri Bottas suffered wheelspin in the heavy rain at the race start, losing position to the cars around him on entry to the first corner. He locked brakes and collided with Lando Norris, sparking a multi-car accident with several cars suffering damage and a number of retirements, including Bottas. Meanwhile, Hamilton was unscathed out-front.
The race was red-flagged and upon the standing restart, the team chose to keep Hamilton out on the Intermediate tyre and start from the grid, while the remainder of the field behind opted to pit for slick tyres and start from the pit lane.
On a rapidly drying track, Hamilton was forced to pit just one lap later to fall in line with the other cars and found himself emerging from the pits 14th and last, with a mountain to climb.
Hamilton carved his way through the field with a number of impressive overtakes to climb to fifth with a little over 10 laps to go, before encountering a stubborn Fernando Alonso who defended strongly and cost Hamilton precious time.
Eventually, Hamilton made the pass on Alonso and quickly dispatched Carlos Sainz thereafter but ran out of laps and was forced to settle for a heroic P3, joining debut-winner Esteban Ocon on the podium alongside Sebastian Vettel in P2.
Later, Vettel was disqualified for not having enough fuel to take a sample, which moved Hamilton up to P2.
Incredible Recovery From Lewis Hamilton
As he sat alone on the grid for the re-start, it looked like being an awful day for Lewis Hamilton. However, the 7-time champion forced his way through the field to take a podium place, and reclaim the lead in the 2021 Formula 1 Driver’s Championship.
‘First of all, I want to say a quick congratulations to the Alpine Team and to Esteban – he’s been a shining star for some time now so it’s been a long time coming and I’m really, really happy for him. It’s great to see Aston Martin up there with their best result so far and I know there’s more to come from them. We’ve had an amazing crowd this weekend and I’m grateful for the support.
‘Today was definitely tough, it’s crazy to think we were the only ones on the grid at the start, but these things happen in an unpredictable race, and we will learn any lessons that need to be learnt. I gave it everything today and I had nothing left at the end. I came into this weekend not knowing how we would perform and considering the circumstances today, I’ll take P3!’ said Hamilton.
Disaster For Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas was cast in the role as the villain after his crash with Lando Norris took them both out of the race, and also caused serious damage to Max Verstappen’s car.
‘I had a poor start with lots of wheelspin off the line, lost a couple of places and then into turn one, I was right on the gearbox of Lando and locked the wheels. I misjudged the braking point – it’s always difficult starting a race in those conditions, you’re always ‘guesstimating’ grip levels and today I got it wrong. I’ve spoken to Lando and Checo to apologise, it was my bad today and sometimes you have to hold your hands up,’ added Bottas.