Hamilton wins Emilia Romagna GP
Lewis Hamilton moved to the brink of a seventh world title with victory in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
A one-two for Mercedes with Valtteri Bottas second sealed a record seventh consecutive constructors’ championship.
In the drivers’ title chase, Hamilton is 85 points clear of Bottas, who was promoted to second when Red Bull’s Max Verstappen suffered a puncture.
Hamilton will win the title at the next race as long as Bottas does not out-score him by more than seven points.
Williams driver George Russell was on target to score his first F1 points but the Briton crashed while trying to warm his tyres behind the safety car.
Hamilton dropped behind Verstappen to third after making a poor start, but had moved into a winning position before the virtual safety car made his victory certain.
The race had been shaping up for a tense scenario, one in which the advantage was with Hamilton.
He decided to stay out longer before his pit stop – after Bottas and Verstappen had stopped for fresh tyres – to try to extend enough of a lead to stop and stay in front.
Bottas was struggling with a damaged car – a large piece of Ferrari debris was trapped in his ‘barge boards’ behind the front wheels and costing at least 0.5secs a lap – and holding off Verstappen, and Hamilton put in a string of fastest laps to extend his advantage.
The Finn had just been told by his engineer that he was “one second unsafe to Lewis” – meaning that Hamilton had enough of a lead to pit and emerge still in the lead – when race director Michael Masi called the virtual safety car to recover Esteban Ocon’s stricken Renault.
The safety car was out for not much longer than Hamilton was in the pits for his fresh tyres and he was able to emerge with a four-second lead and cruise to the flag.
Bottas appeared to have lost second place to Verstappen when he made one too many mistakes locking his front wheels into Rivazza.
On lap 42, the Finn ran wide and just slipped on to the edge of the gravel, allowing Verstappen to close up and pass into Tamburello at the start of the next lap.
But a right-rear puncture 10 laps later smashed his suspension and sent him spinning into the gravel, promoting Bottas back to second.