It was certainly not the Sunday Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team were expecting at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with both cars in the wall within seconds of each other, both with very different outcomes.
After taking pole position Lewis Hamilton had a big opportunity to cement his place at the top of the standings, but from the green lights it very quickly became one of Hamilton’s more difficult drives of his career. Beaten off the line by Max Verstappen and then a bumpy ride over the kerbs of turn two left Hamilton with much to do.
In changing conditions he did all he could to keep within touching distance of Verstappen, but trouble arose when Hamilton went to lap George Russell up the inside of turn seven. Hamilton was over eager to lap the Williams Racing car and went into the gravel after finding no grip on a damp patch.
Somehow the British driver after ending up facing the wall, managed to get the car back to the pits and climb back up to finish in second place with the fastest lap, thanks to a red flag interval caused by teammate Valtteri Bottas. Nevertheless Hamilton maintains his world championship lead only just, as they head to Portugal.
“Considering I was facing the barrier at one stage, then a lap down, yeah, it was a difficult day in that regard. I had some really good pace in the rain and was catching but just a little bit impatient, maybe, with the backmarkers.”
“I’m only human so these mistakes happen. I’m grateful that I was back in the race and could hunt down and get back to second. The car had a rough time today. I started first, should have been first at the finish but these things are sent to test us and we’ve got a great battle on our hands. Game on.”
“I’m okay physically” – Bottas after high speed crash with George Russell
For Valtteri Bottas it was a much bigger coming together with the wall, a crash at 190mph after colliding with George Russell on the way down to turn two, saw both cars crash heavily with the barrier.
The crash brought out the red flag, which ended up being a blessing to teammate Lewis Hamilton, for Bottas it summed up a terrible weekend. After spending the first half of the race around ninth place, the Finnish driver showed a lack of overtaking ability on cars he should cruise past.
Both drivers initially blamed each other, as tempers flared between the two after the crash Since the incident Russell has come forward to apologise.
It was a race Bottas will be looking to forget in a hurry as he too now has to prepare himself physically and mentally, for the Portuguese Grand Prix in two weeks time.
“I’m okay physically. It was a half-decent shunt but obviously could have been a lot worse at that speed. George got close and decided to go for a move. Obviously the track is quite narrow, there is only one dry line and he went for the outside, there was space all the time for two cars but he obviously lost the car and hit me.”
“I haven’t spoken to him so far: I couldn’t hear a thing what he was on about and obviously we will have a different perspective on it. It was a tough race until then, from where I started it wasn’t easy to make ground. But I need to take whatever positives I can from this weekend and move on.”