Sunday, 01 November 2020 16:18


Photo Credit:Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton moved to the brink of a seventh world title with victory in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Hamilton was comfortably leading from Verstappen before the Red Bull driver, following a long-awaited pass on Bottas, dramatically span off into the gravel to bring out the Safety Car on F1's Imola return.

Hamilton then kept his nerve to secure maximum points from Bottas - who struggled with damage from the second lap of the race he started on pole - while Daniel Ricciardo secured his second podium in three races for Renault.

Mercedes, who were pushed hard by Verstappen, clinched their record seventh straight Constructors' Championship with the result, while Hamilton, 85 points clear in the standings, can wrap up his seventh title at the next race in Turkey.

"Guys, what an incredible achievement from all of you," said Hamilton on team radio. "I'm so proud of all of you."

It has been plain sailing for Mercedes in F1 2020, but it certainly wasn't that for Hamilton despite the familiar finish.

Hamilton,starting second, lost a place to Verstappen on the start and then was stuck behind Bottas and the Red Bull through the first stint of the race.

But he then ran longer than his two rivals and with Bottas struggling for pace and Verstappen unable to pass him, had built up a big enough gap to overcut his rivals before he was given a further helping hand by a Virtual Safety Car, caused by Esteban Ocon's stoppage.

He emerged from the pits with a big lead, which he extended, and was 13s clear of Verstappen after the Dutchman overtook Bottas on the main straight. Soon after, Verstappen's Red Bull failed and went spinning into the wall at the Villeneuve corner, leading to that late Safety Car.

Both Mercedes pitted, but Hamilton once again streaked clear of the driver who is now the only man who can stop him in his bid for a record-equalling crown.

The big battles in the closing stages instead became behind Mercedes, with Renault pulling off a masterstroke by deciding not to pit Ricciardo, who then held off a late charge from Daniil Kvyat for third place.

Charles Leclerc sealed fifth ahead of Sergio Perez, who may have been cost a podium by Racing Point's strategy, while Alex Albon endured almost as painful a finish as team-mate Verstappen.