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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Lewis Hamilton Wins Inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix

Photo Credit: Wolfgang Wilhelm/Mercedes AMG 


With the initial 2020 Formula 1 schedule, there was going to be two new race courses added to the tour. A visit to the Hanoi Street Circuit for the inaugural Vietnamese Grand Prix as well as the series’ return to the Circuit Zandvoort for a new Dutch Grand Prix were ultimately scrubbed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Introducing a modified 2020 calender, Formula 1 has still able to infuse some fresh flavour to race audiences and teams through the addition of several new venues. A visit back to Portugal racing for the first time at the Portimão Circuit and a return to Intercity Istanbul Park for the Turkish Grand Prix are among tracks newly included on this year’s revised schedule. Serving as the first special track appearing for the 2020 Formula 1 season is the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello.  

Hosting the first-ever Tuscan Grand Prix in a famed Italian region, the Ferrari-owned race course functioned as the second Formula 1 event commemorating a milestone for the motorsport series’ 70th year. While the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix (the second race at Silverstone in July) celebrated seven decades of Formula 1, the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello marked the 1,000th grand prix entry for the storied Ferrari marque. In addition to Ferrari running special commemorative colours on their race cars for the Tuscan Grand Prix, the brand’s celebration in Formula 1 at Mugello was marked as the first race in the 2020 Formula 1 season to be run with fans in attendance. 

Though the second Italian race for the 2020 Formula 1 season was billed as a celebration for Ferrari’s milestone event, the continuing dominance of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team spoiled the party for the Prancing Horse. The 20-car field for the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix started with Lewis Hamilton on pole with teammate Valtteri Bottas locking up the front row. While the Mercedes at the front of the grid at a new Formula 1 track brought concerns of a potential dull outing, Sunday’s 59-lap race on the 5.245-kilometer course was anything but a timid event.

In less than a minute after the start of the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix, a multi-car incident occurred heading into turn two. Jockeying for positions in the first lap, Romain Grosjean, Pierre Gasly and Kimi Raikkonen headed three-wide towards the Luco corner until the wheels of Gasly’s AlphaTauri and Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo touched. As the field slowed down for turn two, the AlphaTauri race car collided with the rear of the Red Bull Racing entry of Max Verstappen. The Honda-powered Red Bull was pushed off track and came to rest in sand trap where the Dutch driver was unable gain traction to rejoin the race. The Tuscan Grand Prix was the second consecutive DNF result for Verstappen who had been second in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship a few races prior to the tour’s trip to Italy. A race after an upset win at Monza, Pierre Gasly and his AlphaTauri car were relegated to early retirement. Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo and Romain Grosjean’s Haas F1 car were able to continue running. Carlos Sainz Jr. and Sebastian Vettel were also involved in a separate turn two mishap. Though the cars of Sainz and Vettel suffered damage, both competitors were able to be quickly repaired.  


Photo Credit: LAT Images/Mercedes AMG



The opening lap incident immediately drew the safety car that lasted until the end of lap six. An action that escaped attention due to the first lap accident was that Valtteri Bottas successfully beat Lewis Hamilton off the starting grid. Bottas led the field as the safety car returned to pit road taking the field across the start/finish line in a strategically slow manner. The #77 Mercedes AMG driver’s restart caused a bottleneck deeper through the race field resulting in another multi-car collision. The Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi and the Ferrari-powered Haas VF-20 of Kevin Magnussen collided within the accordion effect.  McLaren of Carlos Sainz Jr. as well as Nicholas Latifi’s Williams were also casualties of the front stretch accident having to ultimately retire their vehicles. This time, the major incident required a full race stoppage. For the second consecutive Formula 1 grand prix, a red flag put a stop to race action and brought cars to pit road. 

After a roughly 30-minute delay, the Tuscan Grand Prix was sent back to green with a standing start for lap nine. This second standing start for the event fell into the favour of the #44 Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton rushing past his teammate at the entry of the first corner. Following two multi-vehicle incidents, the race at Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello was finally able to proceed beyond a single lap without interruption. 

Though the Mercedes AMG team cars gained a healthy advantage over the rest of the competitors, there would be a heated battle for third place. Charles Leclerc held the spot until lap 18 as the Racing Point of Lance Stroll was able to pass his Ferrari. Running with new aerodynamic upgrades, Stroll fought from a sixth place starting spot to third place in the early stage of the race at Mugello. Returning to the race track in fourth place following a lap 31 pit stop, the Canadian driver and his #18 Racing Point car began to chase down the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo. Leaving the pits nearly three seconds behind Ricciardo, Stroll closed to within 1.1 seconds by lap 43 just before the day turned bad for the Racing Point driver. Believed to be caused by a sudden tire puncture, the pink Racing Point lost control and flew through the sand trap in Mugello’s turn nine colliding hard with a section of the track’s retaining barrier. The Stroll was able to leave his wrecked Racing Point machine without injury but the incident forced a safety car that evolved into a second red flag for the Tuscan Grand Prix. 

Following the third standing start of the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix, the race concluded with the Mercedes AMG team showing the way in Italy. Crossing the line first was Lewis Hamilton who won his 90th career grand prix by 4.88 seconds over his teammate Valtteri Bottas. In addition to the winning the inaugural Formula 1 event on the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello, Hamilton also locked up the fastest lap of Sunday’s Tuscan Grand Prix registered at 1-minute, 18.833 seconds. Finishing in second place, Bottas attempted to find an edge over his teammate by requesting an alternative pit stop strategy from the Mercedes AMG crew. However, since the Finnish driver pitted prior to the leading #44 machine, Lewis Hamilton was able to simply counter by opting for the same tires one lap after what was the one and only competitive tire change during the race.   


Photo Credit: LAT Images/Mercedes AMG


Joining the two Mercedes AMG drivers on the podium was Thailand’s Alexander Albon. The result for Albon is his first career Formula 1 podium a little more than a full year after being called to drive for the Red Bull Racing team. 

Once again this season, Daniel Ricciardo showed some promising pace with the Renault F1 Team climbing from an eighth place qualifying position in a quest for the pairing’s first podium. Ricciardo finished just short of the hotly-contested third place spot at the Tuscan Grand Prix taking fourth. Finishing fifth, Sergio Perez salvaged Racing Point’s race after his teammate dropped out in spectacular fashion. Perez was also racing in Mugello with the public knowledge that the Mexican will not be returning to the ride he raced with since 2014. Overshadowed by their teammates’ performance in Monza, Lando Norris and Daniil Kvyat posted solid point-paying positions at Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello finishing sixth place and seventh place respectively. 


Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.



Although this season continues to be a struggle for Scuderia Ferrari, the combination of their 1,000th race and running on their home turf may have presented a moment of minor fortune for the team. For only the third place in 2020, both Ferrari race drivers finished in the top-10 of a grand prix’s running order. Starting strong in fifth place, Charles Leclerc rose to third place in the early stage of the Tuscan Grand Prix. However, tire degradation on the #16 Ferrari ultimately led to Leclerc settling for an eighth place result after 59 laps. Sebastian Vettel recovered from minor damage suffered early in the grand prix to take tenth. Between the two Ferrari cars, former long-time driver for the Italian team Kimi Raikkonen finished ninth place. The event on the Ferrari-owned race track was the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion’s first points during what has been a difficult 2020 season with Alfa Romeo Racing.


Photo Credit: Ferrari S.p.A.


George Russell came just short of a scoring a championship point with Williams Racing operating through its first event under new team management. The #63 Mercedes-Benz powered Williams finished in 11th place roughly 2.4 seconds behind Sebastian Vettel. 

Two multi-car accidents and several additional retirements in the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix concluded with just 12 cars crossing the finish line. Romain Grosjean’s Haas F1 Team car being the last to take the chequered flag. Ferrari and Mercedes AMG were the only teams to have both cars survive 59 laps at Mugello on Sunday.

The next race for the 2020 Formula 1 tour is the Russian Grand Prix set for September 27th. 



2020 Formula 1
Tuscan Grand Prix
Race Results






Mercedes Masters Mugello: Hamilton Starts On Pole For Tuscan Grand Prix

Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.


Qualifying for the 2020 Formula 1 continues to be a time that the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team has embraced as a personal playground. For all but two grand prix events, Lewis Hamilton has been the dominant driver in the dominant organization claiming  pole position at the end of the traditional Saturday time trial session. Adding to impressive career statistics at well-known, historic Formula 1 tracks such as Spa-Francorchamps and Silverstone in 2020, Hamilton faced a unique challenge as the tour arrived at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello for the first-ever Tuscan Grand Prix.

Despite the 5.245-kilometer Ferrari-owned circuit being a personal testing course for the Prancing Horse, the Mercedes AMG team held ownership of the three practice sessions ahead of Saturday’s qualifying with Valtteri Bottas leading in all three prep periods. However, Lewis Hamilton emerged supreme at the end of qualifying for the Tuscan Grand Prix taking pole with a top Q3 time of 1-minute, 15.144 seconds. The 95th career pole position for the British driver is the fastest competitive lap set on the Mugello track. 

Lewis Hamilton narrowly beat teammate Valtteri Bottas for the top spot in the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix by a margin of just 0.059 seconds. Fastest in practice sessions, Bottas missed out on a last minute opportunity to outdo Hamilton’s when the Renault of Esteban Ocon spun on track causing a local yellow. 

Directly behind the Mercedes AMG team that occupies the front row for the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix is the two cars of Red Bull Racing. Max Verstappen has shown promising pace against the Mercedes throughout the race weekend and mustered a third-fastest time in Q3 a little more than 0.3 seconds slower than Bottas. Verstappen expresses optimism in ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a post-qualifying press release stating, “A Mercedes is never easy to overtake but we will give it all we have and I love this track so I'm really looking forward to the race." Recording the fourth-quickest effort for Sunday’s main event, Alexander Albon posted his most impressive qualifying results in his young Formula 1 career. 

The Tucsan Grand Prix holds a great deal of importance to the Ferrari team. Not only a race being held on their own testing track, the Mugello Circuit’s 2020 race serves as the 1,000th Formula 1 appearance for the Italian auto brand. Wearing special commemorative colours for the occasion, Charles Leclerc gave Scuderia Ferrari it’s best showing in Saturday qualifying with a fifth-fastest lap time. Leclerc will be the only Ferrari-powered entrant among the top 12 cars on the grid. Kimi Raikkonen driving a Ferrari-propelled Alfa Romeo grabbed 13th one spot ahead of the second Scuderia Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. 


Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.


With an uncertain Formula 1 career for 2021 after Racing Point (set to become Aston Martin next year) selecting Sebastian Vettel to pair with Lance Stroll next season, Mexican driver Sergio Perez was sixth-fastest in qualifying beating his teammate by 0.045 seconds. Perez and Stroll will effectively switch grid positions due to a one-grid place penalty assessed after an incident in the second Friday practice session. Race stewards ruled Perez was at-fault for contact with Kimi Raikkonen during the second practice when the Racing Point joined the race circuit from pit road. 

From 8th through 11th place starters for the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix are Renault-powered race cars. Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault F1 Team entry will start alongside Sergio Perez. The fifth grid row will have the McLaren driven by last week’s runner-up finisher at Monza Carlos Sainz Jr on the same row as Esteban Ocon. Lando Norris in the second McLaren is starting Sunday’s race in 11th place.

The Tuscan Grand Prix is the first race in the 2020 Formula 1 season that will run with fans in attendance.


2020 Formula 1
Tuscan Grand Prix
Starting Grid






Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Grand Day for Gasly: AlphaTauri Driver Wins Memorable Italian GP

Luca Bruno - Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images


A race course celebrated for its age and speed, the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is now known for a surreal 2020 Italian Grand Prix. After 53 laps, series of misadventures by Formula 1's currently established front-runners and some opportune placement by other entrants led to a very different podium topped by a surprising yet popular victor. 

The grid for the Italian Grand Prix assembled somewhat routinely for a 2020 Formula 1 with Lewis Hamilton on pole and Mercedes AMG teammate Valtteri Bottas starting beside him. Without any awareness for what will occur in this year’s Monza event, the race started with Hamilton shooting out to a major advantage. Bottas, on the other hand, struggled immediately on the opening lap of the Italian Grand Prix falling to sixth place by the time the black Mercedes completed a full circuit around the track. The weak start by the #77 Mercedes AMG allowed the two McLaren cars of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo driving for Renault to make early gains. 


Photo Credit: LAT Images/Mercedes AMG


On lap 19, the race was slowed by a safety car period when the #20 Haas F1 Team machine driven by Kevin Magnussen stopped along the edge of the track ahead of the pit road. A power unit issue was cited as a reason for Ferrari-powered race car. Initially appearing as a simple recovery of a stopped vehicle, the safety car appearance ultimately reshaped the entire race. Entering the Parabolica turn just as the Mercedes-AMG GT R safety car was being deployed, leader Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes AMG team attempted to use the more than 14-second gap to make a pit stop. However, due to the full-course caution period, pit road was closed meaning Hamilton’s stop was against the rules. Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi was also caught pitting as the start of the safety car period. Both drivers were given a 10-second stop-and-go penalties in their pit stalls eventually being served on lap 30. 

Viewed as a home race for Scuderia Ferrari F1 team, the Monza, Italy circuit is seen as a venue of heightened pride where the squad has an additional incentive to perform. Unfortunately, this year’s grand prix performance for Ferrari was another situation compounding what has been an overall dreadful 2020 season; in fact, it required a very short time for the afternoon to go badly for the Ferrari team. After just six laps, the #5 car of Sebastian Vettel encountered massive brake system failure on track requiring to German to make an uneasy trip to pit road and retirement from the Italian Grand Prix one lap later. Charles Leclerc’s Monza race also came to a premature end only in more dramatic fashion than his teammate. Shortly after the race resumed under green after the safety car period to retrieve Kevin Magnussen’s car, the #16 Ferrari lost control through the turn 11 Parabolica corner and slammed hard into the barriers on lap 25. Escaping major injury, Leclerc was unable to defend his 2019 win at the grand prix.


Photo Credit: Ferrari S.p.A.


The recovery of the crashed Ferrari and the repair to the track’s safety barrier required a red flag on the Monza track that span almost 30 minutes. A second standing start would be employed on lap 28 in order to send the race back to green with all teams were allowed to place new tires on their cars prior to the event’s resumption. Well-timed early pit stops by Pierre Gasly and Kimi Raikkonen elevated them up the racing order. Having not pitted in the Italian Grand Prix up to the second safety car period, Lance Stroll and the #18 Racing Point was granted the enviable grid position of starting alongside the Mercedes AMG of Lewis Hamilton who had yet to serve his penalty. Similar to Valtteri Bottas’ start in the second grid spot, Stroll has a terrible launch dropping from second to fifth place near the end of lap 28. 

From third place on the grid, the AlphaTauri in the hands of Pierre Gasly obtained second place just prior to Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes attending pit road to serve his stop-and-go penalty. As Gasly maintained the lead of the Italian Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz Jr. would eventually pass Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo for second place. Although the Alfa Romeo Racing team was able to place Raikkonen in a runner-up position for lap 30, the red and white #7 car slid down the standings and would finish the race in the 13th place spot. 

Into the final laps, Sainz began to close on the leading AlphaTauri closing within a one-second on lap 52. With a gap of 0.415 seconds, Pierre Gasly held off the McLaren driver to win the 2020 Italian Grand Prix. 


Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.


The first-ever Formula 1 win for the 24-year-old Frenchman, Pierre Gasly comes in his third full season in the sport that included last year split between Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso (now known as AlphaTauri). Ecstatically taking his first podium at the Brazilian Grand Prix last season, Gasly was on top of the world. The French driver was equally as emotional celebrating victory in the 2020 Italian Grand Prix. Immediately following Pierre Gasly’s win, the news was greeted with resounding positivity from his fellow drivers and other teams. Rebranded from Toro Rosso this year to advertise energy drink company Red Bull’s fashion line, the AlphaTauri is now the third team that has found victory in the 2020 season in addition to Mercedes AMG and Red Bull Racing.  


Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.



One week after a Belgian Grand Prix where he wasn’t even able to start the main event due to an exhaust issue, Carlos Sainz Jr. narrowly missed scoring his first Formula 1 victory in Monza. “It’s obviously impossible to be too disappointed with P2, but I wanted that win!” Sainz stated in a post-race release from McLaren. Both McLaren drivers managed to complete the 53-lap race high in the finishing order as Lando Norris crossed the line in fourth place. McLaren believed a certain win may have existed for their team if not for the second safety car and red flag period that would have broke a winless streak stretching back to 2012.

Crossing the line in third place, Lance Stroll and Racing Point captured his second career podium finish in Formula 1 at the Italian Grand Prix while some analysts believe a higher position or perhaps a win would have been possible on the day. The 21-year-old Canadian cited considerable wheel spin on the second standing start as hindering a better result. The finish by Stroll is the first podium for the Racing Point team since the ownership consortium led by Lawrence Stroll purchased the operation from Force India in the middle of 2018.


Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.


Unable to improve his position while in traffic, Valtteri Bottas settled for fifth place in the Italian Grand Prix. Used to leading, the usually dominant Mercedes AMG race cars appeared humbled. Dropped to the back of the running order after attending to his stop-and-go penalty, Lewis Hamilton would put on a worthwhile show as he charged back into the top 10. By the end of lap 53, the Brit was able to salvage a seventh place result. Hamilton still holds a commanding 47-point lead in the 2020 drivers’ standings after eight races. Bottas is now second place in the overall standings aided by Max Verstappen dropping out of the race after lap 30 when his Red Bull Racing car suffered a power unit problem. 

Renault F1 Team drivers finished favourably in Italy with Daniel Ricciardo taking sixth while Esteban Ocon took the chequered flag in eighth place. The final two top 10 spots in the Italian Grand Prix were claimed by AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez. 

Finishing outside of the points, the Williams Racing team’s showing at Monza carried weight for being the final event that the organization would have found Sir Frank Williams as well as deputy team principal Claire Williams serving in an official capacity. Sold to an American-based investment firm, Williams Racing will continue to feature the team’s past glory including the name of its founder. Canadian Nicholas Latifi crossed the finish line at the Italian Grand Prix in 11th place while George Russell achieved a 14th place run. 

For what will be the third weekend in a row where Formula 1 cars will compete, the Tuscan Grand Prix on Italy’s Mugello Circuit will provide a unique, new competitive venue for the tour with a race scheduled on September 13th. 




2020 Formula 1
Italian Grand Prix
Race Results





Sunday, September 6, 2020

Mercedes Motors at Monza: Hamilton Takes Italian Grand Prix Pole

Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.



Considered one of the fastest circuits on the current Formula 1 calender, the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is a track that benefits low downforce and massive engine power. With what is known of the 2020 season as well as other prior years in the open wheel racing series, qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix on the high-speed race course was understandably seen as another playground for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team. However, a rule change targeting the German-based squad had the potential to shake up Saturday’s time trials.  

The Italian Grand Prix is the first event where the Formula 1 sanctioning enacted rules against the Mercedes AMG team’s use of a special engine mode for qualifying. The so-called “party mode” setting was incorporated to allow a driver to have access to a brief performance boost from the power unit meant to gain extra pace in qualifying. Although the Mercedes AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance vehicles were cited for using the engine setting exploit, other Formula 1 teams have acknowledged having the capacity of utilizing an effect similar to party mode. Starting with the Italian Grand Prix weekend, teams will be required to operate through a single engine mode in qualifying and race conditions.   

Despite the new engine mode rule, the Mercedes AMG cars rolled to secure an easy front row for Sunday’s main race at Monza. Collecting his 94th career Formula 1 pole, Lewis Hamilton came out on top in qualifying with a 1-minute,18.887-second lap time. The performance by Hamilton eked-out his teammate Valtteri Bottas for pole by just 0.069 seconds. Both Mercedes AMG drivers able to record lap times under 1-minute, 19 seconds and eclipsed the previous lap time record around the 5.793-kilometer circuit. Bottas’ top Q3 lap was more than 6/10ths of a second faster than the third-place runner.


Photo Credit: LAT Images/Mercedes AMG


Missing out on starting the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend due to an exhaust issue, Carlos Sainz Jr. is in a prime position for glorious recovery in the grand prix at Monza. The Spaniard will start third in his Renault-powered McLaren alongside the Racing Point of Sergio Perez. The third row of the 2020 Italian Grand Prix’s starting grid is shared by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and the second McLaren race car driven by Lando Norris. Outpaced by their engine customer McLaren, the Renault F1 Team piloted by Daniel Ricciardo will launch from seventh place on Sunday. Lance Stroll, Alexander Albon and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top-10 in the final round of qualifying.


Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.




In recent years, qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix on the Monza circuit has become a chaotic affair. The final round of qualifying for the 2019 event concluded with a farcical outcome where a majority of cars moved so slowly in the final moment of Q3 that time expired by the time they reached the starting line. Attempting to gain the valuable slip-stream equating to extra speed on the track’s long stretches, drivers want to follow rather than lead to get an ideal time. Smaller instances of slip-streaming gone wrong appeared to cost several drivers including Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen from posting their best lap times. The Q1 session also had a number of lap times disallowed due to exceeding course limits around the sweeping turn 11. Lance Stroll, Alexander Albon and Charles Leclerc all had lap times deleted in qualifying after their right wheels drifted above white line.


Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A.


One of three Italian-based races part of the 2020 Formula 1 schedule, the Italian Grand Prix is a homecoming experience for the Scuderia Ferrari team. After a difficult outing in Spa, the Ferrari race cars are continuing to struggle with an addition sting of competing at a home country event. Charles Leclerc was only able to muster a 13th place result in qualifying while Sebastian Vettel is starting 17th after failing to break out of the initial Q1 session. 

The start of the 53-lap Italian Grand Prix is set for 3:10 p.m. local time or 9:10 a.m. Eastern time.


2020 Formula 1
Italian Grand Prix
Starting Grid