Needing only to score 11 points over Red Bull Racing, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 arrived at Imola poised to take their record seventh consecutive constructors’ championship.
With Valtteri Bottas taking pole ahead of Lewis Hamilton, it seemed a forgone conclusion for Mercedes to claim the title, still, with four races left on the calendar.
At the start, Valtteri quickly got off the line, and take the lead of the Emilia Roamagna Grand Prix, behind the Finn, Lewis Hamilton was struggling for grip. This then gave Verstappen ample space to claim second ahead of the defending champion. The Briton, who won the Portuguese Grand Prixlast week for a record-setting 92nd victory, settled for third.
Lap nine saw the first casualty of the race: Pierre Gasly got called in to retire the Alpha Tauri due to a terminal coolant failure. It was a devastating blow for the Frenchman who was out to prove that his win in Monza was no fluke.
This was followed by Verstappen diving for a change of tires a few laps later to try and undercut Hamilton. Mercedes countered by calling in Valtteri. Lewis was scheduled to dive in the following lap but the Briton decided on his own, to extend his stint and try to overcut Bottas. This move didn’t sit well with the Finn, who immediately was heard asking why he was not allowed to extend like Lewis. The pit wall immediately responded that his car suffered damage when he ran over some debris back in lap two. The #77 Mercedes was suffering and it was just a matter of time before it fell victim to the #33 Red Bull.
Lewis was asked to try and get 10 more laps on his degrading Pirelli medium tires. But as luck would have it, a Virtual Safety Car period occurred on Lap 30.
Esteban Ocon’s Renault, suffered a mechanical failure and stopped on a dangerous part of the track, this brought out the virtual safety car as marshals rushed to retrieve the stricken Renault. This gave Mercedes the opportunity to bring in Lewis for a quick swap of tires, and get him out still in front of the field. Bottas followed suit, as did Verstappen and the rest of the field.
Then surprisingly, on Lap 51, the #33 Red Bull spun off the track and onto the gravel trap, Verstappen’s right rear tire blew out, sending the Dutchman straight into retirement. With the Red Bull stranded in a precarious position, the stewards dispatched the safety car, giving everyone a free pit stop. As the field rejoined behind the safety car, it was still Hamilton out in front, with Valtteri shadowing his teammate; Daniel Ricciardo slotted up to take third, with Charles Leclerc in fourth. It was looking good for a podium finish for the Monegasque but unfortunately, Charles ran wide in turn nine, giving Albon, Perez, and Kvyat the opportunity to overtake the Ferrari.
Ricciardo weathered the charge of Kvyat to take his second podium of the year, Bottas claimed second, with Lewis Hamilton taking the checkered flag, and win the 93rd race of his storied career; Additionally, this was the 29th different circuit that Lewis had won a race, and his 72nd as a Mercedes driver.
But the biggest prize won in Imola, was Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team assuring itself of the 2020 Constructors’ champions for the seventh year in a row. The Brackley squad has won the title since 2014.
If their rivals don’t step up, chances are will take the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team its eighth consecutive title next year.