Formula 1 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix - Lewis Wins Chaotic First Race at Mugello

Grand Prix

Sep 17th, 2020

Formula 1 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix - Lewis Wins Chaotic First Race at Mugello

The Formula 1 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix was held at the Mugello Circuit located in the city of Florence, Italy. It was the 9th race of the 2020 F1 season, the first-ever grand prix to be held at the Mugello. The circuit, which boasts of high-speed corners and requires high downforce, was opened in 1974. Scuderia Ferrari bought the track in 1988 and offered it to host this round to mark the Prancing Horse’s 1000th race.

A special ceremony was held by the government of Florence to celebrate the milestone achieved by the Red Team, which changed their livery from the traditional red to burgundy for this occasion. 

Mercedes W11 was the fastest car around the track and dominated the event from Friday till the very last lap on Sunday afternoon. Alexander Albon finally clinched his first podium by finishing 3rd. 

Pre-Race Preparations Thursday: Perez reveals 2021 plans as the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix begins  

The weather outlook was as good as the Mugello track itself. Friday was expected to be sunny with some rain in the afternoon. Saturday and Sunday were both meant for plenty of sunshine plus strong winds to unsettle the cars.

Sergio Perez dropped the bomb that he will finally leave the team after driving with them for seven years. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel from next season onwards on a multi-year deal will replace him. The Racing Point will become Aston Martin Racing from next year after Lance Stroll’s father Lawrence Stroll who is a major shareholder in Aston Martin Automotive brand bought the team.

Carlos Sainz will be driving for Ferrari in the 2021 F1 season, with Daniel Ricciardo taking his post in the McLaren team. Returning two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will take the wheels for Renault, and so goes just a few of the team changes for next year. 

Friday Practice: Mercedes team quickest on the Ferrari track

The hills of Tuscan, in the city of Florence, were rocked by the sound of the twenty V6-powered F1 cars. This was an exciting day for everyone. The drivers loved driving around the classic high-speed track with some famous corners like Arrabbiata 1 and Arrabbiata 2. Mercedes set the benchmark during both the session on Friday. Data analysis showed that the Silver Arrows had an advantage of 0.7sec/lap on Red Bull in the qualifying trim. The Racing Point was farther behind by two tenths but ahead of the main competitors. Renault, Alpha Tauri and Ferrari completed the top 5 fastest teams on short-run pace. 

Race run simulation results showed Mercedes advantage cut down to Red Bull by six tenths. Racing Point appeared to be third quickest, while things were looking a bit rosy for the home team Scuderia Ferrari. Alpha Tauri was 5th on the table but equal in pace with Renault. They were both lapping more than a second slower than the Mercedes. 

Saturday Practice: Red Bull wedges its way between the two Silver Arrows

Max Verstappen stepped in between the two Mercedes drivers giving hope that it will not be a straight fight between the two drivers. The upgraded Racing Point was again 4th fastest and was looking like it will start the race from the second row. Pierre Gasly, last week's race winner, hooked up a good enough lap to pit his Alpha Tauri in the top five.

Qualifying: Lewis grabs pole from Bottas 

The first ever-qualifying session at the Mugello circuit was a battle between the two Mercedes drivers. Bottas finished the Q1 session on top ahead of his teammate. Pierre Gasly was the biggest upset of the session and was knocked out along with the two Williams, Alfa Romeo’s Giovinazzi and Hass’s Kevin Magnussen.

Sebastian Vettel could not go any further into the qualifying. Lando Norris failed to reach Q3 for the first time this season. Roman Grosjean, Kvyat and Kimi Raikkonen were also unable to reach the top 10 round. On the sharp end of the grid, Lewis finished ahead of Bottas for the first time during the Tuscan GP.

Q3 started with Mercedes stretching their advantage from the rest of the field, including Max Verstappen. Lewis clocked in a 1:15:144 time to take provisional pole position by 0.06 sec from his teammate. Max finished third but was 0.4 sec behind.

On the final hot laps of the session, Renault's Esteban Ocon went off the track in sector 1 and hence denied Bottas any chance to take pole position, since Lewis had already finished his final lap. Lewis took his 95th career pole ahead of Bottas, Max, Albon, Leclerc, Perez, Stroll, Ricciardo, Sainz and Ocon.

Sunday Race: Lewis wins 90th career victory, only one win behind Schumacher

It was yet the most chaotic and action-packed race of the season, with some fast racing, huge crashes, safety cars, red flags, standing restarts - and through all of that emerged one winner. Bottas made a strong start from his grid box and took the lead going into the first corner. Verstappen made a good start and was briefly into second before an engine problem left him with no power and he started dropping down the order. 

Gasly got sandwiched between Raikkonen and Grosjean and crashed into Raikkonen who hit Max from behind, and all three cars drifted into the gravel trap. Only Grosjean managed to get out of the gravel. Behind this crash, Sainz and Stroll made contact resulting in Sainz spinning around and colliding with Vettel. The safety car was deployed on lap 1 and continued until lap 6.

Lap 7, the safety car was called in, and Bottas was controlling the restart. The home straight is more than a kilometre long, so he tried to start the race close to the start line to minimise the tow effect. In the midfield couple of cars thought the leading pack has bolted which in fact didn’t and, as a result, a huge 260 km+ crash happened between Magnussen, Latifi, Giovinazzi and Sainz. A perilous situation but luckily everybody was safe. The safety car was deployed again on lap 7, and later the session was red-flagged. 

The race restarted on lap 10 when remaining cars lined up on the grid. Lewis picked up the tow from Bottas and jumped into the lead, and that proved to be the race-winning move. By lap 21 the order was Hamilton, Bottas, Stroll, Ricciardo, Albon and Perez. Bottas pitted on lap 31 for hard tyres, and Lewis did the same on the next lap. At the end of the second round of pit stops, Hamilton was P1 ahead of Bottas and Ricciardo.

Lap 43, Lance Stroll picked up a puncture while going through the Arrabbiata 2 and crashed heavily into the tyre barrier, damaging the front layer that held the tyres in place. The safety car was again deployed and later converted into a second red flag to repair the damaged barrier. 

Lap 47, the 12 remaining cars lined up on the grid for a third start of the day for a 12-lap sprint to the flag. Lewis maintained his lead into the first corner, but Ricciardo jumped Bottas and slotted into P2. Bottas later regained the position to move back to P2. Lap 59, Lewis crossed the line and took his 90th career race win and first at Mugello. He is now only one behind the record of 91 race wins by Schumacher. Bottas finished a respectable second, and Albon finally achieved the first podium of his career, becoming the first driver from Thailand to do so in the history of F1. Ricciardo placed 4th, Perez 5th, Norris 6th, Kvyat 7th, Leclerc 8th, Raikkonen 9th, and Vettel 10th.

Russian Grand Prix 2020: Russia beckons

F1 travels to Russia for a race at the Sochi Circuit built through the Winter Olympics Venue. It’s another happy hunting ground for Mercedes since the start of the inaugural Russian GP. Will Hamilton win his 91st in Russia? Let’s follow the next race in the F1 2020 season and see it happen!