Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Hamilton and Mercedes Celebrates Big Victory At Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.


The 2020 Formula 1 schedule’s thirteenth event presented another wild card of sorts for the improvised season. Returning to Imola’s Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari for the first time since 2006, Formula 1 teams converged for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. 

Despite returning to a classic race complex, this particular grand prix presented a number of new ingredients. Firstly of all, the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix would be held on a 4.909-kilometer track layout that was assembled after the final 2006 San Marino Grand Prix took place at the venue. The Formula 1 series as a whole has also changed a lot since the last competitive race at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari. Turbo-Hybrid power units, DRS detection zones and the ban on in-race refuelling are some of the differences in 2020 grand prix events. The majority of the current drivers on the Formula 1 grid have been able to familiarize themselves with the current track competing in lower tier racing series such as the Formula 3 European Championship as well as the GP2 Series. Kimi Raikkonen is the only active competitor in the field for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix who had raced at Imola with a Formula 1 car.

Sunday’s 63-lap race at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari consisted of 20 drivers led by Valtteri Bottas. Joined by Mercedes-AMG teammate Lewis Hamilton on the front row for the start of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Bottas launched successfully to hold an early lead. While Valtteri Bottas capitalized on his pole, Hamilton’s #44 car fell to third place at by the first corner as the Honda-powered Red Bull of Max Verstappen found his way around current World Championship leader. Both Bottas and Hamilton entered the weekend with the intention to pilot their W11 EQ Performance race cars to their Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s seventh consecutive Constructors’ Championship. 

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Although a relatively tame first lap of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, two separate incidents occurred complicating the days for two drivers. After only a few corners in the race, Lance Stroll’s #18 Racing Point lost a piece of its front wing as the Canadian made slight contact with the rear of Esteban Ocon’s Renault while negotiating the traffic at the start on the narrow Imola circuit. Stroll continued to the run but be out of contention for scoring points settling for 13th place. Later on the same lap, the Haas F1 Team car of Kevin Magnussen partially spun coming out of turn seven. Magnussen lost some ground with the rest of the field but quickly recovered. The #20 Haas F1 Team machine would be retired later in the event.  

Though Lance Stroll and Kevin Magnussen survived their mishaps in the early stage of the race, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix would claim its first casualty on lap eight. After a magnificent fourth-place qualifying effort, Pierre Gasly dropped out of the event when an apparent coolant issue caused the Frenchman to park his AlphaTauri race car. 

Pitting one lap after Max Verstappen on lap 19, Valtteri Bottas surrendered the lead of the race to Lewis Hamilton. Holding the lead through the initial laps, it was later reported that the driver of the #77 Mercedes-AMG race car had hit a piece of debris on the event’s second lap. As his crew was unable to remove the debris during Bottas’ pit stop, the Finnish driver would experience a growing difficulty with handling as the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix progressed. 

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

While the Mercedes-AMG team has shown incredible pace throughout the year, Max Verstappen and his Red Bull Racing team has been capable of presenting a meaningful challenge to the German-based group. A Red Bull Racing versus Mercedes-AMG team fight for second-place emerged during the mid way point of the race. Verstappen zeroed in on Bottas and was able to apply some major pressure on the #77 Mercedes. On lap 42, the Honda-powered Red Bull race car pressured Bottas into over-driving turn 17. On the start-finish stretch, Max Verstappen was able to use the additional momentum of DRS to propel pass Valtteri Bottas.  

After making his impressive pass for second place on the tricky Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Verstappen’s efforts would be all for nothing in the final results of the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Heading towards turn 5 on Lap 51, the right rear tire on the #33 Red Bull Racing RB16 race car suddenly failed sending the Dutch driver into a gravel trap. A safety car period was called to recover the now-retired Red Bull machine causing many teams and drivers to choose to make pit stops. During the safety car period, Williams driver George Russell joined the retirement list after losing control of his vehicle coming out of turn 10 on the smooth race track hitting a wall. A visually dejected Russell left his car following the single-car incident commenting in a post-race team release “I came out of the corner and the tyres were too cold and I just lost the car, and I was already in the wall. It is absolutely gutting, and I am really sorry to the team. We were having an amazing race up until then, we were pushing really hard every lap and the pace was good.”

Photo Credit: Honda North America

A last sprint to the finish of the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix resulted in the #44 Mercedes-AMG machine of Lewis Hamilton rolling to his 9th victory of the season. The Imola track becomes the recently-crowned all-time winningest Formula 1 driver’s latest addition to circuits where he has taken the chequered flag in first. This year, Hamilton has previously added victories at the Ferrari-owned Mugello track as well as Algarve International Circuit to his growing list of career conquests.

Crossing the line 5.783 seconds behind teammate Lewis Hamilton, second-place finisher Valtteri Bottas was able to celebrate the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s group accomplishment of securing a seventh-consecutive Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship. With four races remaining, the German-based team has established a large enough gap between them and Red Bull Racing. In the same event where Red Bull Racing fell from mathematical contention to capture the 2020 constructors title points, the team failed to score a point. In addition to Max Verstappen’s before-mentioned retirement, Alexander Albon would slip in the late stage of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to finish 15th. 

For the second time in 2020, Daniel Ricciardo has placed his Renault race car into a podium position. While the two Mercedes-AMG drivers completed the 63-lap distance of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with a two-pit stop strategy, a number of drivers elected to choose track position instead of softer compound tires during the race’s late stage. Ricciardo was the top-placed driver to operate on only a one-stop plan over 63 laps at Imola. Ricciardo’s third-place finish has allowed the Renault F1 Team to move up two positions in the constructors’ standings placing it third overall with one-point ahead of McLaren and Racing Point. 

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images/Pirelli

Achieving his best finish since the German Grand Prix in 2019, Russian Daniil Kvyat’s fourth place run on the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari is a much-needed bode of confidence late in the 2020 Formula 1 season. Kyvat is currently fighting to secure a place on the grid for the 2021 tour as his team has yet to announce the second driver joining Pierre Gasly. 

For the second consecutive race, Charles Leclerc claimed a top-5 finishing position for Ferrari thanks to a single pit stop strategy. Leclerc’s teammate Sebastian Vettel crossed the line at Imola in 12th place sandwiched between Canadian drivers Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll. 

Though promoted to third place immediately after Max Verstappen’s retirement, Sergio Perez would relinquish the position to pit his Racing Point during the safety car period. Perez settled for a sixth place finish at the end of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix continuing a streak of scoring points in every grand prix he entered in 2020 (noting the two races is missed due to recovering from COVID-19). The Mexican driver is still seeking a Formula 1 ride for 2021 but faces decreasing prospects as Williams Racing and Alfa Romeo Racing recently solidified their lineups for next year.

Photo Credit: Charles Coates/Motorsport Images/ Pirelli

Qualifying close together on Saturday at Imola, the two McLaren race cars finished together in the final results for the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Carlos Sainz Jr. captured seventh place ahead of Lando Norris driving for one of three teams that would place both cars into point-paying positions. Besides Mercedes-AMG and McLaren Racing, Alfa Romeo Racing ended the race in Imola with Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi scoring points for the first time in the same event this season. The veteran Raikkonen placed ninth one position above his younger Italian teammate who captured the last point of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Starting last, Giovinazzi narrowly fended off the Mercedes-Benz powered Williams race car of Nicolas Latifi for the tenth place spot.

Formula 1 teams are given a two-week break ahead of the next race in Turkey. The first Turkish Grand Prix in nine years is scheduled take place at Intercity Istanbul Park on November 15th.

2020 Formula 1
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix 
Race Results

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