Sub-edited by Riley Taylor.
On the weekend where Mercedes were looking to clinch the constructor’s title for the seventh time in a row, Valtteri Bottas led the pack away at Imola and managed to maintain his position while his teammate Lewis Hamilton lost a position to Max Verstappen while Daniel Ricciardo gained a position at the expense of Pierre Gasly to complete the top five after one lap in.
Further down the order, Kevin Magnussen ended up spinning out after contact with Sebastian Vettel while Lance Stroll picked up damage from hitting Esteban Ocon’s right rear tyre. Antonio Giovinazzi recently announced as an Alfa Romeo driver for next year went from last to 14th continuing his good record of overtaking at least one car on each race this year.
Lap eight saw Gasly forced to retire the car with a cooling leak with a few early stoppers including Romain Grosjean, Giovinazzi and even George Russell trying to undercut the front runners. A two-stop strategy was not particularly advisable, with Imola being the longest pit of any race on the calendar this year, losing 27 seconds.
LAP 9/63— Formula 1 (@F1) November 1, 2020
🎧 “Pierre, we have to box, we have to box – we have a terminal situation on the car”
After such a promising weekend, horrible luck for Gasly and his race is over on Lap 9 🙁#ImolaGP 🇮🇹 #F1 pic.twitter.com/canq6zTfiD
Lap 14 saw a host of cars pit onto the hard compound with tyre degradation being far worse than the pre-race predictions. Pit strategy round this the track is very important since overtaking is very hard with most of the turns being high to medium speed corners meaning cars which follow too closely will lose time due to being in dirty air.
The race leaders followed the midfield on lap 19, as Verstappen pitted onto the hards, followed by Bottas a lap later. There was concern for Bottas by lap 23, with his team radio saying he had floor damage all the while Hamilton was out in clean air setting fastest laps to try to give himself a good chance of undercutting Bottas and Verstappen.
The midfield was unable to make up any ground on one another with a big DRS train following on from Magnussen. Lap 28 finally saw some cars overtaken that wasn’t pit related as Ricciardo and Leclerc managed to overtake the slower Haas. This worked wonders for Racing Point and Sergio Perez as he was able to make up several positions after pitting due to his rivals being stuck behind a slower car.
Another retirement saw Ocon retire due to a clutch problem which triggered a virtual safety car which miraculously allowed Hamilton, who was on the perfect part of the track, to pit and get out ahead of Bottas due to the safety car reducing the time lost in the pit lane by 10 seconds.
Of the three overcutters in Nicholas Latifi, Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, it was Latifi who pitted first and put himself in 15th position.
Verstappen was putting immense pressure on Bottas almost managing to overtake the Finn on lap 37 but thereafter unable to close the gap enough to force a position change.
Lap 40 saw Vettel finally pit and with the time he gained via the overcut, the four-time world champion was looking rosy to gain some positions and possibly put himself amongst the points, only for a terrible 13-second pit stop to dash those hopes bringing him back out in 14th.
Bottas finally crumbled under the pressure from the Red Bull and the floor damage which dipped his car onto the gravel just before the DRS straight which allowed Verstappen to overtake at the end of the straight.
Magnussen, complaining of pain when completing upshifts finally retired with 15 laps to go. Meanwhile, Raikkonen the last of the overcutters, re-joined in 13th.
Lap 50 saw a full safety car as Verstappen’s rear right completely folded on him, spinning the Dutchman out leading to the majority of the pack pitting in order to get onto fresh tyres.
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 1, 2020
Under the safety car, Russell was running in 10th but as he weaved to keep the temperature in his tyres, he crashed out at Acque Minerali, once again condemning the young Brit to another no points race and leading to an extension in the safety car period.
Perez pitted onto softs causing him to lose track position from third and drop down to sixth with the DRS train of Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon not pitting leaving them third, fourth and fifth on old tyres while Perez, Daniil Kvyat and the McLarens pitting onto softs for the last stretch of the race.
As racing got back underway, Albon had a torrid time, losing out to Kvyat and Perez before spinning out. Kvyat, quietly having a strong race got past Perez and around the outside of Leclerc putting him in fourth, looking for his fourth career podium and his last since Germany 2019. To do that though he would need to overcome Ricciardo who had benefitted hugely from the previous events.
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 1, 2020
As the chequered flag flew Mercedes secured the 2020 constructors title as Hamilton and Bottas took a one-two finish, with the final podium position secured by Ricciardo, justifying the decision to not pit the Australian under the safety car. Kvyat, Perez, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi made up the top 10.
With the constructors a foregone conclusion for most of the season it was a given that Mercedes would be number one. The real battle for the other teams is who can take second. This season the battle for third has been the most interesting part of the season and today’s results continue to show why. With just one point separating Renault in third on 135 points from McLaren and Racing Point in joint fourth on 134 points.Embed from Getty Images
The driver’s championship saw some movement as Ricciardo pushed himself up to fourth with Leclerc moving up to fifth at the expense of Perez. Norris and Sainz now find themselves seventh and eighth respectively. With Albon and Gasly dropping down to ninth and 10th while Kvyat’s fourth-placed finish put him up to 13th, consequently pushing Vettel down to 14th.
Remind yourself what happened in round 12 here.