Lewis Hamilton is now only one win away from equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of victories in Formula 1 after the Briton took the honours in the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello on Sunday.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver initially lost the lead at the start to team-mate Valtteri Bottas but regained the position at the restart following the first red flag at Mugello, caused by a number of drivers crashing on the start/finish straight.
Hamilton survived another red flag, caused when Lance Stroll crashed heavily, to finish the race at the front for his ninetieth victory of his remarkable career, although he acknowledged it was far from a straightforward day in Tuscany.
“Today was one of the most challenging days, physically and mentally, I’ve experienced,” said Hamilton. “I’m pretty exhausted to be honest, but it feels fantastic to win such a crazy race.
“It’s all a bit of a daze and felt like three races in one day. It was incredibly tough out there, this track is phenomenal and Valtteri was pushing me hard, so it wasn’t easy at all. With all the restarts and the focus that was required, it was really hard.
“The first start wasn’t great, and I lost the place to Valtteri, but then the second start was better and I got the place back. I had a comfortable advantage after that point but then there was another red flag. Anything could have happened on those restarts but fortunately on the last one, I got my best start of the day and was able to maintain my position.
“Valtteri was always right there with me and I couldn’t make a single mistake, otherwise he’d be right there to pass me on the straight. A huge thank you to the team here at the track and back at the factories for all their hard work to make this result possible, and this is a brilliant circuit, so I’d love to come back in the future.”
“I did everything I could and was pushing really hard” – Valtteri Bottas
Team-mate Bottas agreed with Hamilton, feeling it was a ‘really tough’ afternoon as he took yet another second place, his third of the season as he slipped further behind the Briton in the championship standings.
The Finn looked to have got the jump on Hamilton at the start but he lost the lead at the first standing restart, and despite showing good pace, he was unable to get close enough to his team-mate to make a move for the lead.
“It feels like we had three races today and it was really tough out there,” said Bottas. “The first part of the race went well for me, but also was pretty short. I had a dream start and maintained my position on the first Safety Car restart.
“Once I lost the position to Lewis on the second start, it was really tricky to get it back. I did everything I could and was pushing really hard, especially in the middle stint so I could maintain the distance. But when you are behind, you need to slide the car more and that uses up your tyres.
“There weren’t many opportunities once I lost the place, but that’s how it goes, and I just need to keep pushing and keep trying to get better. And that’s what I’ll do.”